Social Justice: Theories, Issues, and Movements

By Loretta Capeheart; Dragan Milovanovic | Go to book overview
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Forms of Justice

ONE ASPECT OF GLOBALISM AND MULTICULTURALISM is the question of indigenous peoples' forms of justice.1 Key struggles for indigenous people have concerned land, recognition, sovereignty, resources, intellectual property rights, and self-determination. With globalism, assuredly the question of other indigenous peoples will begin to become much more visible and audible. Ours is not an exhaustive list, but an introduction to some of the more glaring issues dealing with globalism, indigenous populations, and social justice.


The definition of “indigenous” in indigenous cultures precedes any discussion of historical, political, juridic, and economic effects. The very definition of the term “indigenous” is itself controversial. Existing definitions often lead to the imposition of standards of human rights that might be undermining of indigenous people's unique way of being (Niezen 2003, 18).

The United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations defines indigenous peoples in terms of “priority in time; voluntary perpetuation of their cultural distinctiveness; self-identification as indigenous; experience of subjugation, marginalization, dispossession, exclusion, and discrimination by the dominant society” (Havermann 1999a, 21). In Australia they are often referenced as First People; in Canada, First Nations; in New Zealand, Maori; in the United States, native people and sometimes American Indians (Havermann 1999a;Wilkins 1997).2

Perhaps one of the most enlightening discussions on definitions comes from Niezen (2003). He sees three ways of conceptualizing the term: (1) in legal or analytical terms—identifying distinguishing factors of original inhabitants and developing them into distinct categories;3 (2) in practical terms—the U.N. Working Group on Indigenous Populations maintains an open-door policy for any who want to participate under the name of indigenous; and (3) in collective terms—although there is a clear difference between them and the particular state within which they find themselves, there is more often identification with


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Social Justice: Theories, Issues, and Movements


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