Recognising Indigenous People, The Bangladeshi Way: The United Nations Declaration, Transnational Activism And The Constitutional Amendment Affair Of 2011

Eva Gerharz

Abstract


The UN Decades on the Rights of Indigenous People have led to increased support for and sympathy with indigenous people all over the world. Networks and groups have been formed and transnational connections created, with the aim of generating possible solutions to the problems of indigenous people in countries where marginalization reaches a long way back. Many activists welcomed the UN Declaration as a document of high moral value legitimizing them to exert pressure on the state in order to recognize indigenous peoples rights.

Indigenous activists in Bangladesh and their allies anticipated the Declarations global appreciation as a window of opportunity when the government initiated the amendment of the constitution in 2010. Backed by their transnational connections and partners inside and outside Bangladesh, the demands were geared towards the recognition of the notion of indigenous people in the constitution. It was hoped that the principles of the declaration would be endorsed in the constitution and lead to greater equality through affirmative action. Initial positive responses by the government however were revoked later on: The representatives argued that the concept of indigenous people as formulated in the declaration referred to first nations only, whereas in Bangladesh the majority are regarded as more indigenous to the land than the so-called ethnic minorities.

Despite the deep disappointment resulting from the disparaging position of the government, the declaration has had positive effects on the position of indigenous people in public discourse. Moreover, cross-ethnic alliances have been strengthened which enable indigenous activists to access more powerful segments of society and polity. Lastly, the international donor community has become more sensitive towards the plight of indigenous people, which has had an impact on cooperation with the government and civil society.


Full Text:

PDF

References


Adnan, S., Dastidar, R. (2011) Alienation of the Lands of Indigenous Peoples in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Copenhagen.

Appadurai, A. (2006) Fear of Small Numbers. An Essay on the Geography of Anger. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Arens, J. (1997) Winning Hearts and Minds. Foreign Aid and Militarisation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Economic and Political Weekly 32 (29), 18111824.

Bal, E. (2007) They Ask if We Eat Frogs. Garo Ethnicity in Bangladesh, Singapore: ISEAS Publishing, (IIAS/ISEAS Series on Asia).

Bal, E. (2010) Taking root in Bangladesh. The Newsletter 53, International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Special Issue on Indigenous India, 24-25.

Chandler, D. (2013) Peacebuilding and the Politics of Non-linearity: Rethinking Hidden Agency and Resistance, Peacebuilding 1 (1), 17-32.

Gerharz, E. (2000) The Construction of Identities. The Case of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. Student Research Report, Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University.

Gerharz, E. (2002): Dilemmas in Planning Crisis Prevention: NGOs in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, in: The Journal of Social Studies 97, S. 19-36.

Gerharz, E. (2012): Approaching Indigenous Activism from the Ground Up: Experiences from Bangladesh. In: Amelina, A.,

Nergiz, D. D., Faist, T. & Glick Schiller, N. (eds.) Beyond methodological nationalism: Research methodologies for cross-border studies. Routledge, New York, pp. 129152.

Gerharz, E. (2013): Zugehrigkeitspolitiken und Entwicklung in Bangladesch Indigener Aktivismus zwischen globaler Rhetorik und lokalen Dynamiken, in: Soeffner, Hans-Georg (Hrsg.): Transnationale Vergesellschaftungen: Verhandlungen des 35. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft fr Soziologie, Frankfurt: VS Verlag.

Ghosh, K. (2006) Between Global Flows and Local Dams: Indigenousness, Locality and the Transnational Sphere in Jharkhand, India. Cultural Anthropology 21 (4), 501534.

Giddens, A. (1984) The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration. Polity Press, Cambridge.

Hale, C. R. (2006) Activist Research v. Cultural Critique: Indigenous Land Rights and the Contradictions of Politically Engaged Anthropology. Cultural Anthropology 21 (1), 96120.

Karlsson, B. G. (2003) Anthropology and the Indigenous Slot: Claims to and Debates about Indigenous Peoples Status in India. Critique of Anthropology 23 (4), 403423.

Keck, M. E., Sikkink, K. (1998) Activists beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics. Cornell Univiversity Press, Ithaca, London.

Kradolfer, S. (2011) The Transnationalisation of Indigenous Peoples Movements and the Emergence of New Indigenous Elites. International Social Science Journal 61 (202), 377-388.

Kuper, A. (2003) The Return of the Native. Current Anthropology 44 (3), 389-402.

Mohsin, A. (1996) Military, Hegemony and the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The Journal of Social Studies 72, 126.

Mohsin, A. (1997) The Politics of Nationalism. The Case of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. University Press Ltd, Dhaka.

Mohsin, A. (2003) The Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh: On the Difficult Road to Peace. Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder.

Muehlebach, A. (2001) "Making Place" at the United Nations: Indigenous Cultural politics at the U.N. Working Group on Indigenous Populations. Cultural Anthropology 16 (3), 415448.

Muehlebach, A. (2003) What Self in Self-Determination? Notes from the Frontiers of Transnational Indigenous Activism. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 10 (2), 241268.

Nederveen Pieterse, J. (2010) Development Theory: Deconstructions/Reconstructions, 2nd edition. SAGE Publications, Los Angeles; London.

Oldham, P., Frank, M. A. (2008) "We the peoples" - The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Anthropology Today 24 (2), 59.

Pfaff-Czarnecka, J. (2007) Challenging Goliath: People, Dams, and the Paradoxes of Transnational Critical Movements. In: Hiroshi, I. & Gellner, D. N. N. K. (eds.) Social Dynamics in Northern South Asia, Volume 2: Political and Social Transformations in North India and Nepal. Manohar, Delhi, pp. 399433.

Pfaff-Czarnecka, J. (2012) Zugehrigkeit in der mobilen Welt: Politiken der Verortung. Wallstein Verlag, Gttingen.

Pfaff-Czarnecka J., Bschges C. (2008) Die Ethnisierung des Politischen. Frankfurt am Main: Campus.

Roy, R.D. (2009) The ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Populations, 1957 (no. 107) and the Laws of Bangladesh: A Comparative Review, Dhaka: International Labour Organisation.

Shah, A. (2007) The Dark Side of Indigeneity? Indigenous People, Rights and Development in India. History Compass 5 (6), 18061832.

Stewart, J. (2004) When Local Troubles Become Transnational: The Transformation of a Guatemalan Indigenous Rights Movement. Mobilization: An International Journal 9 (3), 259278.

Uddin, N. (2010) Politics of Cultural Differences: Ethnicity and Marginality in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. South Asian Survey 17 (2), 283294.

van Schendel, W. (1992) The Invention of the 'Jummas': State Formation and Ethnicity in Southeastern Bangladesh. Modern Asian Studies 26 (1), 95128.

Vandekerckhove, N. (2009) "We Are Sons of This Soil: The Endless Battle over Indigenous Homelands in Assam, India. Critical Asian Studies 41 (4), 523548.

Wessendorf, K. (ed.) (2008) The Indigenous World 2008. International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Wood, N. (2008) Whose Aid? Whose Influence? China,

Emerging Donors and the Silent Revolution in Development Assistance. International Affairs 84 (6), 1205-1221.


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.