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Political Research Exchange - PRX

Indigenous Studies and Constitutional Complexity

Ethnic Conflict
Human Rights
Council of Europe
Panel Number
Panel Chair
Helge Hiram Jensen
European University Institute
Panel Co-Chair
Ande Somby
UiT – Norges Arktiske Universitet
Panel Discussant
Cathrine Thorleifsson
Universitetet i Oslo

07/09/2017 09:00 - 10:40
Building: BL07 P.A. Munchs hus Floor: 1 Room: PAM SEM15
Studies of indigenous peoples has become one of the fruitful intersections between political science and political anthropology, as well as legal science and legal anthropology. This field of research has grown as a result of the search for proofs, within the ongoing institutionalization of indigenous rights within international law.

The territorial claims by indigenous movements have highlighted the actual co-existance of parallel norm systems regulating the usage of natural resources, in spite of earlier attempts by state-builders to claim jurisdictional monopoly over indigenous lands. At the scholarly level, such empirical realities have actualized recent theoretical developments in various disciplines; on the one hand, political science after the conceptual convinces of "methodological nationalism"; on the other hand, political anthropology after the "island metaphor" of coherent, bounded cultures.

While political scientists have been led re-think the theory of the state, through studies of European political integration and Latin American political movements, the political anthropologists are researching complex sovereignty and legal pluralism in various postcolonial areas. Whereas American political formations have a history of colonization from external forces, there are other indigenous peoples in Eastern Europe and Western Europe, who have experienced a history of internal colonization under the exiting states (e.g. the Nenets in North-West Russia, and the Samis under the Nordic states).

Some recent multidisciplinary and comparative research has started to exploit the potential to bring the two research fronts together. For example, recent research on the indigenous Sámi people of Northern Europe has brought together these two strands of research, e.g. in the edited volume Indigenous Politics, published at ECPR Press in 2016. This volume, as well as similar research on the Sámi, indicates that the Nordic states never were capable to impose the ideal of the unitary state/nation in practice, compared to how strongly it was claimed in theory. This is only one example of what might happen when the two strands of research are being brought together.

The indigenous rights struggle, with its recent developments in international law, has implied a search for proof within legal anthropology. As a result, legal scholars in Latin America have developed constitutional legal theory that transcend the normative / methodological nationalism / statism of the previous legal positivism (see e.g. the work of Marcello Neves and Ugo Mattei). Such research has contributed to the refinement of concepts such as “legal pluralism”, “jurisdictional pluralism” and “complex sovereignty”, which may or may not include the presence of territorially clear-cut monopolies of coercive force. The research on complex social, political and/or military systems imply novel theoretical developments in political anthropology and legal anthropology, with potential consequences for state theory and legal theory in general.

In this panel, we welcome papers about indigenous peoples within and outside Europe, e.g. the Sámi and the Nenet peoples within Europe; or the Mapuche and the Maya peoples outside of Europe.

Paper List

Title Details
Coastal Sapmi – Subsistence Fisheries, Legal Anthropology and Re-constituted State Theory View Paper Details
Family Farming Business in a Mapuche Community: Understanding (in)dependency on State-funded Programs View Paper Details
Feminist Knowledge Production: What Western(ized) Feminist Thought can learn from Buen Vivir View Paper Details
Singing for the Right to a Past View Paper Details
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