‘Strange Bedfellows? Globalization and Indigenous Systems of Communal Land Tenure


School of Humanities and Social Science

‘Strange Bedfellows? Globalization and Indigenous Systems of Communal Land Tenure in New Zealand, Fiji, Canada and Australia’

Dr Marilyn Lashley, Howard University

Friday, 3 April
10am to 11am
(with morning tea/coffee afterwards)

Cultural Collections Reading Room (near the Information Common),
Level 2, Auchmuty Library, Callaghan Campus

In the aftermath of World War II, western governments were pressured to recognize indigenous peoples’ aspirations by means of decolonization and social justice.  In many cases, well-intentioned governments endeavored to recognize indigenous peoples’ grievances and to restore, in varying degree, indigenous rights and sovereignty over traditional land holdings by allocating substantial funding as redress for the usurpation of land and other tangible assets, systematic marginalization and to improve social and economic well-being.  Yet insufficient progress has been made in alleviating or reducing poverty and providing economic uplift to indigenous communities.  Still impoverished and undereducated, with inadequate access to health services, many indigenous communities are regarded as perennial cases of failed social and economic development policy by the dominant groups in their respective societies. Increasingly western countries use such failures to justify jettisoning development policy targeting indigenous and other marginalized minority groups. For indigenous peoples, land is intrinsic to identity as self, as tribe and as nation.  Land is not merely private property but a communally held manifestation of the spiritual self where god resides.  Therefore, it is imperative that policymakers recognize that definitions and legal conventions governing indigenous sovereignty and land tenure derive from conceptualizations grounded in westphalian democratic principles, practices and goals which deprecate indigenous ways of knowing, problem solving, and identity.  The “pacific way” or “the Indian way” (customary practices) place emphasis on reciprocal and hierarchical relations, privilege elders and customary chiefs and extol deference to authority, propriety, order and the virtues of giving that often impede economic development.  Nowhere is this vexing dilemma more evident than when we compare the affects of globalization manifested by government policies sanctioning commercial use and exploitation of native/reserve lands on indigenous systems of land tenure in New Zealand, Fiji, Canada and Australia.

Marilyn Lashley is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Howard University, Washington DC. In 2007 she held the Fulbright Research Chair in Globalization and Cultural Studies at McMaster University, Ontario, and has been a Visiting Fellow with ANU, the Brookings Institution, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and the University of Chicago. Dr Lashley is currently a Visiting Fellow with the Umulliko Indigenous Research Centre at the University of Newcastle.

Staff, students and members of the public are welcome

Enquiries to:
Michael Ondaatje    Michael.Ondaatje@newcastle.edu.au Ph 4921 5219
Victoria Haskins        Victoria.Haskins@newcastle.edu.au Ph 49215221

One thought on “‘Strange Bedfellows? Globalization and Indigenous Systems of Communal Land Tenure

  1. Pingback: History Seminar Series, 2009 « UoN Cultural Collections

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