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Baka and the Magic of the State: Between Autochthony and Citizenship

  • Alec Leonhardt


While Baka “Pygmies” are regarded as among Africa's most indigenous peoples, their autochthony seems lacking in features that would give them standing for special consideration by die state. Somehow, indigenousness does not equal autochthony. Other mobile indigenous peoples such as traders and pastoralists have also been seen as less than autochthonous. These groups lack “roots in the soil,” which makes them less subject to the authority of the state than farmers. Further, as an acephalous society, Baka political culture cannot be appropriately adjusted to interact with the hierarchical structure of the state and related institutions. For this reason the problematic autochthony of Baka is less an issue of rights within the existing structure of the state—of civil rights—than of human rights. Unfortunately, this human rights issue is not really on any policy agenda, not even that of the working group for the U.N. Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


Tandis que les Pygmées Baka sont considérés comme les populations parmi les plus indigènes d'Afrique, leur identité autochtone semble manquer certaines caractéristiques qui leur donneraient un statut particulier aux yeux de l'etat. D'une certaine manière, il semble que l'identité indigène n'est pas équivalente à celle d'autochtone. D'autres populations nomades telles que les commerçants ou les prêcheurs ne sont pas considérés comme autochtones. Ces groupes manquent de “racines dans le sol,” ce qui les rend moins sujets à l'autorité de l'état que les fermiers. De plus, en tant que société acéphale, la culture politique Baka ne peut pas être ajustée de manière satisfaisante à la structure hiérarchique de l'état et des institutions qui s'y rattachent. C'est pour cette raison que le statut autochtone problématique des Baka est moins une question de droits au sein de la structure existante de l'état—de droits civils—que de droits de l'homme. Malheureusement, cette question de droits de l'homme n'est sur aucun agenda politique, pas même sur celui de l'équipe travaillant à la première version de la déclaration des droits des indigènes de l'ONU.



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Baka and the Magic of the State: Between Autochthony and Citizenship

  • Alec Leonhardt


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