• Jonathan Friedman University of California, San Diego


Since the mid-Seventies there has been a massive increase in the activities of indigenous minorities in the world. Their struggles have become global news, and they have entered numerous global organizations so that they have become an international presence. This, I shall argue, does not mean that they have been globalized and that they are just like everyone else in today's globalizing world. They have been part of many a national scene for many decades. They have been marginalized in their own territories, boxed, packaged and oppressed, sometimes even unto death. But this has changed in many parts of the world, because the indigenous is now part of a larger inversion of Western cosmology in which the traditional other, a modern category, is no longer the starting point of a long and positive evolu-tion of civilization, but a voice of Wisdom, a way of life in tune with nature,a culture in harmony, a gemeinschaft, that we have all but lost. Evolution has become devolution, the fall of civilized man. But there is a social reality to this change as well since the voices of the Other are the voices of real people struggling for control over their conditions of existence. This struggle is not about culture as such, but about social identity of a particular kind, indigenous identity, which is constituted around cultural and experiential continuities that are only poorly mirrored in Western categories, not least in anthropological categories. Fourth world struggles have been partially, and in some cases very successful, but they do not operate in a simple structure where the only larger context is the national state. They are also part of a dynamic global system, one that is multiplex and contains a number of related processes.
How to Cite
Friedman, J. (1999). INDIGENOUS STRUGGLES AND THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE. Journal of World-Systems Research, 5(2), 390-411.