Indigenous peoples pre-date the contemporary world system of nation-states, and yet are now bound with this global scheme through asymmetric power relations of colonialism. As colonial exchanges saw the expropriation of Indigenous lands and the concentration of wealth in European hands from 1492, notions of progress, private property and nationhood relied upon Indigenous reference points to conjure the image of a barbaric, romantic or simply earlier past that was ‘naturally’ succeeded in the passage to a modern world.1 The European colonial episode inflicted incredible damage on Indigenous societies, frequently pushing Indigenous peoples to the brink of extinction through genocidal violence, but it also bound Indigenous and European peoples in the generation of European self-understandings that continue to reverberate and dominate in world politics. The asymmetry of many colonial encounters certainly means that many exchanges occurred — and continue to occur — on European terms, but Indigenous peoples have consistently pushed back, troubling and haunting a Eurocentric world order from a marginal position.


Indigenous People International Relation Indigenous Knowledge Political Life Personal Autonomy 
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© Morgan Brigg and Polly O. Walker 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Morgan Brigg
  • Polly O. Walker

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