La Bestia as Transpacific Phenomenon: Indigenous Peoples’ Camps, Violence, Biopolitics, and Agamben’s State of Exception
This chapter establishes a transpacific epistemological connection through the exploration of often surprising parallels that exist between Indigenous peoples of Australia and those of Mexico and Central America. An insider, Indigenous knowledge’s framework for understanding and theorising the phenomenon, recognised and named by the people themselves as la Bestia, reveals the redundancy of modernist, neo-liberal interpretations of Indigenous disadvantage. Indigenous people in the settler colonial states of Mexico and Australia are caught by forces beyond their immediate control, overwhelming push factors, that see them abandon contexts within their ancestral country where they are no longer sustained physically and spiritually, to seek a life elsewhere. In both locations across the Pacific this process has seen the lives of many Indigenous people lived out precariously in “camps”; this phenomenon is a reflection of the nature of the modern democratic states that have developed on their lands. This is best described as living in a state of exception, following the theory of Giorgio Agamben.
I am indebted to several people in the development of this chapter, including the reviewers whose advice helped immensely. The collegial relationships I have enjoyed with scholars of the global South including Dr Vek Lewis who first introduced me to Mexico; Dr Fernanda Penaloza and Rachel Evans who assisted me to chart a course through valuable and complex comparative Indigenous research; Regrette Etcetera who has been a source of intellectual support and advice; Dr Genner LLanes Ortiz who introduced me to the depth of Indigenous cultures in Mexico in our wide-ranging conversations; Dr Sarah Walsh and Dr Fernanda Penaloza the editors of this volume whose encouragement has brought chapter to fruition. Lastly, I am grateful for the intellectual reach, activism and survival of all my relations.
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