Global Indigenous Politics : A Subtle Revolution book cover
1st Edition

Global Indigenous Politics
A Subtle Revolution

ISBN 9781138946682
Published May 10, 2016 by Routledge
280 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book examines how Indigenous peoples’ rights and Indigenous rights movements represent an important and often overlooked shift in international politics - a shift that powerful states are actively resisting in a multitude of ways. While Indigenous peoples are often dismissed as marginal non-state actors, this book argues that far from insignificant, global Indigenous politics is potentially forging major changes in the international system, as the implementation of Indigenous peoples’ rights requires a complete re-thinking and re-ordering of sovereignty, territoriality, liberalism, and human rights. After thirty years of intense effort, the transnational Indigenous rights movement achieved passage of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September 2007.

This book asks:

  • Why did movement need to fight so hard to secure passage of a bare minimum standard on Indigenous rights?
  • Why is it that certain states are so threatened by an emerging international Indigenous rights regime?
  • How does the emerging Indigenous rights regime change the international status quo?

The questions are addressed by exploring how Indigenous politics at the global level compels a new direction of thought in IR by challenging some of its fundamental tenets. It is argued that global Indigenous politics is a perspective of IR that, with the recognition of Indigenous peoples’ collective rights to land and self-determination, complicates the structure of international politics in new and important ways, challenging both Westphalian notions of state sovereignty and the (neo-)liberal foundations of states and the international human rights consensus. Qualitative case studies of Canadian and New Zealand Indigenous rights, based on original field research, analyse both the potential and the limits of these challenges. This work will be of interest to graduates and scholars in international relations, Indigenous studies, international organizations, IR theory and social movements.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 -- Indigenous Politics as Global Change

Part I: The Subtle Revolution: Indigenous Rights and Politics

Chapter 2 -- The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Forging Structural Change

Chapter 3 -- Practicing Global Politics in Indigenous Ways

Part II: State Resistance to the Subtle Revolution of Global Revolution of Global Indigenous Politics

Chapter 4 – "Selective Endorsement" of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Chapter 5 – State Compliance with Indigenous Rights: Opening the Binary of Compliance/Noncompliance

Chapter 6 – Indigenous Rights in New Zealand

Chapter 7 – Indigenous Rights in Canada

Chapter 8 – The Transformative Potential of Indigenous Rights


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Sheryl Lightfoot is Canada Research Chair of Global Indigenous Rights and Politics and Assistant Professor in both First Nations and Indigenous Studies and Political Science at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests include global Indigenous peoples’ rights and politics, Indigenous diplomacy, social movements, and critical international relations.