Savages and Citizens

How Indigeneity Shapes the State

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Although Indigenous peoples are often perceived as standing outside political modernity, Savages and Citizens takes the provocative view that Indigenous people have been fundamental to how contemporary state sovereignty was imagined, theorized, and practiced.

Delving into European political philosophy, comparative politics, and contemporary international law, the book shows how the concept of indigeneity has shaped the development of the modern state. The exclusion of Indigenous people was not a collateral byproduct; it was a political project in its own right. The book argues that indigeneity is a political identity relational to modern nation-states and that Indigenous politics, although marking the boundary of the state, are co-constitutive of colonial processes of state-making. In showing how indigeneity is central to how the international system of states operates, the book forefronts Indigenous peoples as political actors to reject essentializing views that reduce them to cultural “survivors” rooted in the past.

With insights drawn from diverse global contexts and empirical research from Bolivia and Ecuador, this work advocates for the relevance of Indigenous studies within political science and argues for an ethnography of sovereignty in anthropology. Savages and Citizens makes a compelling case for the centrality of Indigenous perspectives to understand the modern state from political theory to international studies.
“This book is a thorough and insightful discussion of the global meaning of indigeneity as it relates to the formation of the modern state. The authors draw from global examples, many of them from the insights of Indigenous scholars, and develop further their ideas through the case studies of Bolivia and Ecuador.”—Carmen Martínez Novo, author of Undoing Multiculturalism: Resource Extraction and Indigenous Rights in Ecuador

“The book makes the reader deeply question the historical origins as well as the contemporary nature of the modern state and the international state system. Sharp, provocative, beautifully written, and underpinned by decades of ethnographic research, it is a must-read for anyone interested in critical international relations, the anthropology of the state, Latin American and Indigenous studies, and indeed the wider social sciences.”—Pedro Mendes Loureiro, University of Cambridge

"Savages and Citizens brings to light the ongoing issues of settler colonialism and the control of all things Indigenous, including how the Indigenous will be viewed by others. Many governments and their citizens benefit from a narrative that demeans the Indigenous people of the land. Savages and Citizens will amaze and inform readers by making plain that one-dimensional, one-sided histories exist because of an ongoing agenda to control the narrative. It cuts through the veil long separating the Indigenous from the settlers and truth from fable."—Kathleen A. Brown-Pérez, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Savages and Citizens
240 Pages 6 x 9
Published: November 2024Hardcover ISBN: 9780816553969
Published: November 2024Ebooks (OA) ISBN: 9780816553976

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