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Reasons of IdentityA Normative Guide to the Political and Legal Assessment of Identity Claims$
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Avigail Eisenberg

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199291304

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199291304.001.0001

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Indigenous Identity Claims: The Perils of Essentialism and Domestication

Indigenous Identity Claims: The Perils of Essentialism and Domestication

(p.119) 6 Indigenous Identity Claims: The Perils of Essentialism and Domestication
Reasons of Identity

Avigail Eisenberg

Oxford University Press

Those who are sceptical of identity claiming often point to public assessments of Indigenous identity claims as especially problematic and as exemplary of two problems with identity claiming: essentialism and domestication. This chapter illustrates how essentialism and domestication are features of two key approaches to assessing indigenous identity, one of which is the ‘distinctive culture test’ used by Canadian courts, and the other is the standards used to interpret Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This chapter shows that both objections lose much of their force when examined in the context of actual conflicts. The chapter points to some of the benefits of identity claiming in contexts where Indigenous peoples are seeking self-determination and explains how the identity approach can be useful in providing a general template for developing a fair approach to assessing such claims.

Keywords:   indigenous peoples, domestication, self‐determination, essentialism, distinctive culture test, Article 27

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