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Indigenous Resurgence: The Drive for Renewed Engagement and Reciprocity in the Turn Away from the State

  • Michael Elliott (a1)

“Indigenous resurgence” centres on three contentions: (1) that colonialism is an active structure of domination premised, at base, on Indigenous elimination; (2) that the prevailing normative-discursive environment continues to reflect this imperative; and (3) that Indigenous peoples must therefore turn away from this hostile environment and pursue independent programmes of social and cultural rejuvenation. The principal movement advocated under the resurgence paradigm thus appears as one of disengagement with the settler order. I also argue, however, that there is an important secondary drive within the movement that presses in the opposite direction. It figures further engagement both as a longer term goal (in the form of renewed dialogue on decolonization) and as an immediate imperative (in order to expose and remove obstacles to reciprocal dialogue). I aim, here, to excavate this secondary drive and consider what it connotes in terms of settler engagement.


La « résurgence autochtone » se fonde sur trois assertions : (1) que le colonialisme est une structure active de domination ayant pour prémisse l’élimination des Autochtones; (2) que l'environnement normatif-discursif qui règne continue de refléter cet impératif; et (3) que les peuples autochtones doivent, par conséquent, se détourner de cet environnement hostile et poursuivre des programmes autonomes de rajeunissement social et culturel. Le principal mouvement préconisé selon le paradigme de la résurgence prend la forme d'un désengagement de l'ordre du colonisateur. Je soutiens qu'il existe cependant au sein du mouvement un courant secondaire important qui va dans le sens contraire. Il comprend un engagement plus poussé à la fois en tant qu'objectif à plus long terme (sous la forme d'un dialogue renouvelé sur la décolonisation) qu'en tant qu'impératif immédiat (afin de mettre au jour et supprimer les obstacles qui s'opposent à un dialogue réciproque). Je me propose, ici, de fouiller ce courant secondaire et d'examiner ce qu'il implique du point de vue de l'engagement des colons.

Corresponding author
University of the Witwatersrand, Department of Political Studies, Room 33, Robert Sobukwe Building, Ground Floor, East Campus, University of the Witwatersrand, RSA, email:
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Research for this paper was conducted with the support of the NRF/British Academy Research Chair in Political Theory. Thanks are also due to three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier draft.

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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-political-science-revue-canadienne-de-science-politique
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