indigenous politics

Afterword. Special issue on Multidisciplinary perspectives on the adjudication of indigenous rights, edited by Kristen Henard and Jérémie Gilbert. Erasmus Law Review 11 (1): 86-87, 2018.

Jurificiation of indigenous politics. In Law against the state: Ethnographic forays into law’s transformation, edited by Julia Eckert, Brian Donahoe, Zerrin Olem Biner, and Christian Strümpell, 23-43. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. 

Social relations and the green critique of capitalism in Melanesia. American Anthropologist 110 (3): 288-298, 2008. In this article, I explore what a critical environmental perspective would look like in Melanesia, where the distinction between nature and culture, and the expectation that science interprets the former in terms of the latter, may not apply. I consider changes in scientific knowledge production and the shift from cultural ecology to political ecology in Melanesian anthropology, including the argument that Melanesians are neither conservationists nor environmentalists. In contrast, I show how people exposed to pollution from the Ok Tedi copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea mobilize their understandings of difference in a green critique of capitalism. I examine a strategy session of local activists, a public meeting about their campaign against the mine, and a sorcery tribunal. Finally, I suggest that Melanesian ideas about social relations provide a useful ethnographic analogy for thinking about the mobility and short temporal horizons of contemporary capitalism.

Indigenous movements and the risks of counterglobalization: Tracking the campaign against Papua New Guinea’s Ok Tedi Mine. American Ethnologist 34 (2): 303-321, 2007.  Many contemporary indigenous movements deploy strategies of counterglobalization that make innovative use of the architecture of globalization. This article examines an indigenous political movement that took legal action to obtain compensation and limit the environmental impact of the Ok Tedi copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea. Even though the campaign sought to balance the desire for economic benefits with the protection of local subsistence practices, its objectives were frequently misinterpreted. Indigenous movements that deviate from an antidevelopment position run the risk of being seen as greedy rather than green. Instead of reproducing allegories about the successful exercise of veto power over development projects, anthropologists need ethnographic accounts that analyze the complex ambitions of indigenous movements and the risks of particular strategies of counterglobalization.

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