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Indigenous Peoples and Borders: decolonization, contestation, trans-border practices

11/11/2019 - 11/12/2019

Indigenous Peoples’ sovereignty, cultural integrity, connection to the land and their overall well-being continue to be threatened, defined and constrained by borders. This symposium aims at offering a rare opportunity for indigenous (focused) scholars and practitioners to engage in dialogue in and through border studies. This burgeoning research field can enrich our global knowledge community and vice versa, stimulate border studies scholars to address topics of particular importance for the lived experiences of Indigenous Peoples. In a separate background note, we provide an overview of this increasingly diverse international research field that started with a nearly exclusive focus on physical and political border issues but has in recent decades examined social, cultural and psychological dimensions. Some of the recent interdisciplinary scholarship, often-coined as “borderology” in Scandinavia, opens up for important new contributions from the humanities, social sciences and law. The ever-evolving human rights regime has been opening up international accountability and elevating individuals, groups and peoples, including Indigenous Peoples, to subjects of international law. Hence, borders, as vessels of territorial sovereignty of states, become relativized through the emergence and broad expansion of international human rights and humanitarian law in the last 70 years. The approach of the Symposium will be a multi-dimensional notion of borders that should enable an exciting policy-relevant and intellectual occasion. The International Symposium’s priorities in terms of inquiry Given the breadth and vitality of border studies and indigenous studies the organizers hope that the Symposium can examine and debate useful specific examples (both case studies and comparative studies) on the ground that not only deepen academic understanding, but also identify some possible solutions/directions that can have positive impacts on the vexed political, legal, environmental, economic and cultural issues at hand. The organizers also hope that papers will be presented from various regions and sub-regions, including the US-Mexico border, the Canada-US border, African border regions, the borders between Bangladesh, India and Myanmar, Sápmi (transcending the borders of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia) and the regions of Central and South America where the Maya Indigenous Peoples live.

This two-day interdisciplinary Symposium is open to academics, representatives, and experts from Indigenous Peoples’ organizations and nations, states, non-governmental organizations, and intergovernmental organizations.


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Elsa Stamatopoulou