Academic journal article Alternatives: Global, Local, Political

Moving on from the Developmental View of Humanity

Academic journal article Alternatives: Global, Local, Political

Moving on from the Developmental View of Humanity

Article excerpt

Abstract

For many Indigenous people's questions relating to development and how development should occur are commonplace. In particular, which types of institutions Indigenous peoples should privilege and establish in order to manage resources and maintain cultural and political institutions is of paramount concern. While different models of development are mooted, the notion of a developmental view of humanity is less often unpicked. The aspects of Hindess' work which I would like to explore in this article are those that illuminate the cultural and political biases and bases which underpin the notion of a developmental view of humanity and the consignment of Indigenous peoples, while in the "present," to the "past" less-advanced stage of this continuum. I use Maori corporations as an illustration to argue that they are part of a diverse economy, the existence of which challenges the developmental view of humanity.

Keywords

Indigenous peoples, development, Maori corporations

For many Indigenous people, questions relating to development and how development should occur are commonplace. In particular, which types of institutions Indigenous peoples should privilege and establish in order to manage resources and maintain cultural and political institutions is of paramount concern. While different models of development are mooted, the notion of a developmental view of humanity is less often unpicked. The aspects of Barry Hindess' work which I would like to explore in this article are those that illuminate the cultural and political biases and bases which underpin the notion of a developmental view of humanity and the consignment of Indigenous peoples, while in the "present," to the "past" less-advanced stage of this continuum.

Significantly for Indigenous peoples, Hindess' work builds on themes taken up by postcolonial scholars and creates avenues to challenge the kinds of dominant assumptions made about what Indigenous livelihoods (development) should and could be. (1) Hindess' work provides inspiration for a way of researching these issues, that is, by tracing how concepts such as development have become normalized in particular and narrow ways, and suggesting that these frameworks could be otherwise. Hindess' theorizing suggests a rethinking is required of the developmental view of humanity when it is so culturally and historically particular and yet portrayed as though it is applicable to everyone, everywhere.

In this article, I use Maori corporations (2) as an illustration, given that the corporate structure is often described as the epitome of the most appropriate model for Indigenous peoples to use to "move on" in the allegedly "correct" ways and to bridge the past-present, traditional-modern "gap." I argue that Maori corporations are part of a diverse economy, the existence of which brings in to question the distinctions between past and present, traditional and modern, and undermines views of humanity on a developmental continuum.

For many neoliberals who deploy a developmental understanding of humanity, the Maori adoption of corporate structures represents a move toward Maori becoming more civilized and more capable to govern their own affairs. Maori are told they must "move on." Maori must move on in particular ways, however, with the assumption being that once Maori have the correct modern institutions then other capabilities (moral and intellectual) will emerge or advance. I trace a history of Maori corporations in order to show that they have never simply fitted the model of civilizing Maori. Since their inception, Maori corporations have been part of a diverse economy with Indigenous, capitalist, noncapitalist, and alternative capitalist dimensions. Maori have used corporate structures for their own cultural, political, and economic aspirations, disrupting the assimilationist aims and governmental technologies of the civilizing process, thereby "moving on" in ways determined by Maori. …

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