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Introduction: Indigeneity in ‘Southeast Asia’: Challenging identities and geographies

  • Ian G. Baird
Extract

Only a few decades ago, there was not a country in Asia that recognised the existence of specifically and legally defined ‘Indigenous Peoples’. In recent years, however, that has changed, albeit unevenly. The concept of indigeneity is being increasingly accepted, both by governments and the public, although it remains highly controversial, even in countries where it has made some ground legally. For example, in the region we now frequently refer to as ‘Southeast Asia’, the governments of the Philippines and Cambodia now define particular ethnic groups of people as Indigenous, and are providing these groups with particular rights. In other countries in the region, the concept of Indigenous Peoples is still not legally recognised, but there is increasing acceptance of the concept, or at least recognition of it amongst certain groups. Questions related to the proliferation and contested nature of the concept of Indigenous Peoples were addressed during a multidisciplinary workshop organised by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in March 2015. This special issue of the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies is devoted to considering some of the conceptions of indigeneity in Southeast Asia that brought together a group of scholars and activists from various countries in Asia and the United States for the workshop, which was financially supported through a grant provided by Open Society Foundations.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Correspondence in connection with this essay may be addressed to: ibaird@wisc.edu.
References
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1 Baird, Ian G., ‘“Indigenous Peoples” and land: Comparing communal land titling and its implications in Cambodia and Laos’, Asia Pacific Viewpoint 54, 3 (2013): 269–81; Theriault, Noah, ‘The micropolitics of Indigenous environmental movements in the Philippines’, Development and Change 42, 6 (2011): 1417–40.

2 Erni, Christian, ed., The concept of Indigenous Peoples in Asia: A resource book, IWGIA Document No. 123 (Copenhagen: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs; Chiang Mai: Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact Foundation, 2008).

3 ‘Indigeneity in Southeast Asia’, ed. I.G. Baird, special issue, Asian Ethnicity 17, 4 (2016). See, in particular, Ian G. Baird, ‘Introduction. Indigeneity in Asia: An emerging but contested concept’: 501–5.

4 Micah F. Morton and Ian G. Baird, ‘From Hill tribe to Indigenous Peoples: The localisation of a global movement in Thailand’.

5 Baird, Ian G., ‘Translocal assemblages and the circulation of the concept of “Indigenous Peoples” in Laos’, Political Geography 46 (2015): 5464.

6 Baird, Ian G., Leepreecha, Prasit and Yangcheepsujarit, Urai, ‘Who should be considered “Indigenous”? A survey of ethnic groups in northern Thailand’, Asian Ethnicity 18, 4 (2017): 543–62.

7 Prasit Leepreecha, ‘Becoming Indigenous Peoples in Thailand’.

8 Michael Dunford, ‘Indigeneity, ethnopolitics, and taingyinthar: Myanmar and the global Indigenous Peoples’ movement’.

9 Thawnghmung, Ardeth Maung, ‘The politics of indigeneity in Myanmar: Competing narratives in Rakhine state’, in ‘Indigeneity in Southeast Asia’, ed. Baird, I.G., special issue, Asian Ethnicity 17, 4 (2016): 527–47.

10 Nasir Uddin, ‘The local translation of global indigeneity: A case of the Chittagong Hill tracts’.

11 Oona Paredes, ‘Preserving “tradition”: The business of indigeneity in the modern Philippine context’.

12 Noah Theriault, ‘Unravelling the strings attached: Philippine indigeneity in law and practice’.

13 Baird, Ian G., ‘Indigeneity in Southeast Asia and Cambodia: Opportunities and challenges, including those related to communal land titling’, in Indigenous places and colonial spaces: The politics of intertwined relations, ed. Gombay, Nicole and Palomino-Schalscha, Marcela (Routledge, 2019), pp. 176193.

14 Fadzilah Majid Cooke and Sofia Johari, ‘Positioning of Murut and Bajau identities in state forest reserves and marine parks in Sabah, East Malaysia’.

15 Scott, James C., The art of not being governed: An anarchist history of upland Southeast Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009).

16 Schendel, Willem van, ‘Geographies of knowing, geographies of ignorance: Jumping scale in Southeast Asia’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 20, 6 (2002): 647–68.

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Journal of Southeast Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-4634
  • EISSN: 1474-0680
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-southeast-asian-studies
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