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Is Indigeneity like Ethnicity? Theorizing and Assessing Models of Indigenous Political Representation

  • Meaghan Williams (a1) and Robert Schertzer (a2)

Abstract

Within the broader literature on political representation, studies exploring Indigenous forms of representation are rather limited. Where they exist, they tend to explore how Western models of political representation include Indigenous peoples, conflating Indigenous groups with ethnic minorities. This article asks whether and how Indigenous political representation might be distinguished from the representation of ethnic minorities. Our argument is that Indigenous groups’ identities tend to be based on different claims and relationships to the state than ethnic groups, which leads to political mobilization seeking a means to respond to the colonial nation-state project. We develop a theoretical framework that identifies three principles that ought to inform an effective and legitimate model of Indigenous political representation: recognition, protection and decolonization. We then apply this theoretical framework to assess the extent to which existing models of Indigenous representation in Bolivia, Canada, New Zealand and Norway correspond with these three principles.

Dans la bibliographie sur la représentation politique, les études explorant les formes autochtones de représentation sont plutôt limitées. Lorsqu'elles existent, elles ont tendance à déterminer la manière dont les modèles occidentaux de représentation politique incluent les peuples autochtones, les associant aux minorités ethniques. Cet article demande s'il convienne de distinguer la représentation politique autochtone de celle des minorités ethniques et dans quelle mesure. Notre argument est que les identités des groupes autochtones ont tendance à être fondées sur des revendications et des relations avec l'État différentes de celles des groupes ethniques, ce qui mène à une mobilisation politique recherchant le moyen de répondre au projet colonial nation-État. Nous élaborons un cadre théorique qui définit trois principes susceptibles de guider un modèle efficace et légitime de représentation politique autochtone : la reconnaissance, la protection et la décolonisation. Nous appliquons ensuite ce cadre théorique pour évaluer dans quelle mesure les modèles existants de représentation autochtone en Bolivie, au Canada, en Nouvelle-Zélande et en Norvège correspondent à ces trois principes.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: meaghan.williams@mail.utoronto.ca

References

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