Indigenous peoples

Indigeneity, indigeny or indigenism?

Authored by: Geoffrey Benjamin

Routledge Handbook of Asian Law

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415659406
eBook ISBN: 9781315660547
Adobe ISBN: 9781317337409


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The terms ‘indigenous people’, ‘indigenousness’ and ‘indigeneity’ are most commonly understood to refer to tribal or endangered minorities suffering political, cultural, legal or economic disadvantages that are not borne by the majority sectors of their countries’ populations. Typically, the question of who is ‘indigenous’ and who is not arises with regard to land-rights claims, but the label is also employed on occasion by members of dominant ‘majority’ populations, as well as by dominated minorities, when asserting ethnic hegemony, cultural authenticity and other such concerns. 1 However, the ‘tribal’ sense is the generally accepted default meaning of ‘indigenous’, even though the concepts ‘tribal’ and ‘indigenous’ actually refer to different, albeit overlapping, social realities.

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