‘Indigenous peoples are not indigenous’ (Settler colonial rationales III): Oren Yiftachel, Batya Roded, Alexandre (Sandy) Kedar, ‘Between rights and denials: Bedouin indigeneity in the Negev/Naqab’, Environment and Planning A, 2016


Abstract: The paper examines the nature of indigenous identity among Bedouin Arabs in Negev/Naqab, Israel, against a background of conceptual, legal and political controversy. It traces theoretically and comparatively the rise of indigeneity as a relational concept, deriving from colonial and postcolonial settings. The concept is shown to be part of the globalization of human rights struggle, with a potential of the indigeneity discourse to empower colonized and exploited minorities, as well as provide a platform for transitional justice. The heart of the paper provides a rebuttal of several arguments made by a group of scholars associated with the Israeli state, named here “the deniers”, who have worked to reject Bedouin (and general Palestinian) claims for indigenous status, thereby denying their entitlement to a range of human and communal rights. The paper offers a systematic examination of historical and geographic evidence and reveals that “the deniers” have raised several relevant questions and dilemmas. However, these do not undermine the typical indigenous characteristics of the Naqab Bedouin Arabs. Research shows clearly that Bedouins belong within the group of indigenous societies according to accepted international definitions and norms. This understanding obliges the Israeli state to protect Bedouin Arabs from further removals, dispossession and marginalization, as well as correct, where possible, the profound damage caused by their past dispossession, eviction and marginalization.

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