Politics of Indigeneity
Recent Problems of Identity in Oceania
Publisher: LIT Verlag, Hamburg
Distributed in the USA/UK: Transaction Publisher, New Brunswick/London
Editors (Erich Kolig / Hermann Mueckler (eds.) 186 pages
paperback, price: 20,90 Euro (18,45 USD; 12,75 Pound)
ISBN : 3-8258-5915-0
Ferment and controversy in Aboriginal affairs over the last few decades have not only given rise to rhetoric and moralising, but have led anthropologists and others into attempting to conceptualise the changing nature of Aboriginal societies. One view is that a cultural renaissance has begun. The paper, which focuses on the more settled parts of Australia, accepts that there may be some sort of cultural revival, but argues that the special connotations of „renaissance” mean that it is not the right word for what is happening. The salient facts which need to be taken into account in analysis and evaluation include the decomposition of indigenous traditions and the formation of new communities. These processes were well documented by earlier anthropologists whose work has fallen into undeserved neglect.
Toon van Meijl:
The revival of Maori culture and tradition has contributed to the political successes of New Zealand's indigenous population in recent years. At the same time, however, it has brought to light that an increasing group of Maori youngsters is unable to construct a cultural identity in terms of the discourses of culture and tradition that dominate the political arena. This paper addresses the identity crisis of Maori youngsters in ceremonial settings (marae).
„Iwi“ is a Maori word commonly understood in New Zealand to mean „tribe“. Many government programmes and Treaty of Waitangi settlements transfer funds to iwi groups. Non-tribal Maori organisations have reacted against this trend claiming that iwi need to be re-conceptualised in light of current social and cultural realities. This paper examines how recent arguments about the nature of iwi have affected the meaning of this term.
Maori assertions of indigeneity in contemporary New Zealand revolve around an identity politics which incorporate both forward-looking and backward-looking discourses. This paper focuses on the furore aroused by a traditionalist Maori politician's speech suggesting that many of the problems experienced by her people in the present could be attributed to „post-colonial traumatic stress disorder“. Her use of the term „holocaust“ to characterise the effects of colonialism was even more controversial and earned her a rebuke from the prime minister. Where, then, does responsibility lie and how can the tragedies of the past be explained and absolved?
This paper discusses notions of the kind of relationship Maori traditionally are supposed to have had with nature/environment, and which now play a role in the indigenous cultural renaissance in New Zealand and form a vital part in the country's political discourse. As the authenticity of the claim that Maori in pre-European times have treated their environment with great care and consideration is now rarely challenged, a raft of strategies and privileges, such as the recognition of customary resource rights under the terms of the Waitangi Treaty, is deduced from that.
This paper explores the complexities of ethnonationalism in multicultural Fiji, where almost half the population are of Indian descent. Coups in 1987 and 2000 have been popularly attributed to racial or ethnic conflict and the protection of indigenous culture and rights. This glosses over other dynamics, especially among indigenous Fijians, including contestations over tradition, chiefly power, vanua, class, the economy, the military and the church. The paper emphasises the legacy of colonialism for ethnic identity in Fiji.
This article highlights similarities between political conditions on the chiefly level in the mid-19th century and present times in Fiji. The coup of the year 2000, carried out by George Speight, marked the open outbreak of conflicts between traditional and influential chiefly families and chiefdoms as well as between the three old confederacies. With a short overview of the historic conditions prior to the cession of Fiji to the British Empire in 1874, the bridge is drawn to the recent process of regrouping interest-groups and power in Fiji after the hostage crisis. The situation then and now seems like a chess game which was abandoned in 1874, due to the colonial influence which suppressed the continuation of sometimes century-long existing conflicts, and which is now being taken up again.
The paper examines processes of education and school curricula in New Caledonia and the growing influence Melanesian self-awareness is able to avert. Well aware of the political sgnificance of formal school education as a vehicle for French hegemony, Melanesian independentists are fighting to roll back the heavy predominance of a cosmopolitan French bias in it.
Editor: Hermann Mückler