Letting the Right One In: The Formulation & Articulation of a Rights-based Discourse for the International Indigenous Movement

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Title: Letting the Right One In: The Formulation & Articulation of a Rights-based Discourse for the International Indigenous Movement
Authors: Midzain-Gobin, Liam
Date: 2016
Abstract: At the international level, indigenous activism has increasingly taken the form of advocating for ‘indigenous rights.’ These rights-based claims are articulated through a human rights framework, exemplified by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was passed by the UN General Assembly in September 2007. Since this time, the Declaration has become the focal point of indigenous activism at the international – and domestic – levels. Proponents of the DRIP have claimed that it moves international law into a “post-Eurocentric” position, and that for the first time, the rights of indigenous peoples have been recognized by the international community. This thesis interrogates the rights-based discourse employed in international indigenous activism. Using postcolonial and poststructuralist theory, it puts forward a hypothesis of double-movement governance affecting indigenous peoples throughout the world. In this thesis, the double-movement is made up of relations between biopolitical management of indigenous lives, and neoliberal governmentality, which come together to establish the power relations within our present-day colonial system. This double-movement governance is then connected to Glen Sean Coulthard’s critique of a politics of recognition framework, on which human rights are based. Together, this theory forms my hypothesis that instead of providing indigenous peoples with emancipatory pathways out of the colonial present, indigenous rights discourses further entrench colonial norms and hierarchies within indigenous communities, and between States and indigenous peoples. Having established my hypothesis, I then test it with empirical data from the Declaration, indigenous fora at the UN, and domestic laws, agreements and policies. Taking the evidence into account, I argue that despite meaningful steps being taken to establish collective rights for indigenous peoples, a rights-based discourse does indeed continue to entrench colonial norms and hierarchies within indigenous communities and between States and indigenous peoples. This is in part because of issues of translation that occur when indigenous claims are articulated through a human rights framework, but also because a system based upon a politics of recognition – such as a human rights framework – is unable to move indigenous peoples out of the present-day colonial relations of power in which they live. Ultimately, such a system is only able to offer indigenous peoples ‘white liberty and white justice.’
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/34104
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-5961
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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