The Denial of Indigenous Voice and Self-determination in Political Thought
Type of content
University of Canterbury. Political Science
Bernard Williams has noted the tendency of certain types of political thought to inform past societies about their moral failings. This is certainly true of the history and political thought focussed on indigenous peoples, whether written by indigenous or non-indigenous scholars. In such writing, contemporary conceptions of justice are used to find the actions of past colonial governments immoral thus justifying the scholars conclusions as to the moral rights of rectification. Avoiding the obvious and much traversed methodological problems in the production of such histories, I focus instead on the denial of indigenous voice and self-determination that is enabled by such moralism. I do so by noting the exclusion of indigenous peoples from the basic political demands that we all have, and could expect from any political authority, indigenous or non- indigenous: in particular the enforcing of property rules, but also stability, order, the conditions of co-operation etc. I suggest that by thinking through how best to theorise an answer to those demands by indigenous peoples, political theory (and in turn, politics itself) would turn to the actual political demands of indigenous peoples, and not the moralising imaginations of scholars.