lindroth and sinevaara-niskanen on international politics and indigenous adaptation


Marjo Lindroth & Heidi Sinevaara-Niskanen, ‘Adapt or Die? The Biopolitics of Indigeneity—From the Civilising Mission to the Need for Adaptation’, Global Society 28, 2 (2014).

Indigenous peoples and indigenous lives have historically been the targets of colonial practices. In current politics, the brutal actions these entailed have changed into more subtle forms of governing. Drawing on the context of international politics (the Arctic Council and the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues), we argue that the demand/need for adaptation is one of the rationalities by which power is exercised over indigenous peoples and indigeneity today. We view this as a form of biopower that fosters and steers indigenous life. The paper highlights three concurrent and overlapping strands of the vocabulary of adaptation: a call for agency, a sustaining of authenticity and a politics of placation. Together, these signal what the adaptive indigenous subject should be like, an unceasing demand for adaptation that is subtler but no less colonial than exercises of power past.


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