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FUTURES OF INDIGENEITY: Spatiality, Identity Politics and Belonging

Workshop at Ruhr-University Bochum (RUB)
November 6-8, 2013

Futures of Indigeneity: Spatiality, Identity Politics and Belonging


Nasir Uddin
(Georg Foster Fellow of
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, RUB)
Eva Gerharz
(Juniorprofessor, Sociology of Development and Internationalization, RUB)
Pradeep Chakkarath
(Senior Research Fellow, Social Psychology and Anthropology, RUB)

Concept Note

‘Indigeneity’ is a continuously contested concept, and a site of socio-cultural (re)presentation of self and
others linked to social, cultural and political boundaries and un-boundaries. It is woven together in an
intricate web of ideas such as ethnicity, hybridity, authenticity, diaspora, nation and homeland, and the
ways those ideas are formed, developed and “owned.” It also concerns territoriality and ancestral rights
over land and hence indigeneity deals with place, space and time with its respective imagining. Once
labeled as “backwardness” and inferiority, indigeneity has now increasingly become a source of pride for
many of those who claim it as a sign of resilience and embeddedness. As a sign of deep belonging,
desired more than discouraged, proclaimed more than disguised as attachment to particular place,
culture, social category and nation, it is now an important source of personal identity. Therefore, the
sense of indigeneity begets paradox of identity as it is an encompassing concept entailing the cultural
survival of individuals, communities, organizations and nations that ascribe themselves to an idea of
belongingness. The concept of indigeneity and belonging are intimately entwined, inlaid together in
conversations about attachment to place, about nationalism and love of country whilst at the same time
they are reworked and modified in trans-local and transnational communicative and interactive
processes. Consequently, these concepts intersect with local, national and global socio-political realities
on the one hand and, on the other hand, they are confronted with the challenges posed to indigenous
aspirations by the neo-liberal agenda of nation-states and their concerns with sovereignty.

In the late 1980s, global academia started paying attention to the interdisciplinary mode of
understanding the specialty of spatiality, politics of identity and belonging in relation to notions of
indigeneity. Social, political, and cultural matters pertaining to this inter- and trans-disciplinary interest
ranging from the micro level affective nature of individual constructions to macro structures of
international, transnational, and post-national orders is fundamentally important. Therefore, the idea of
indigeneity is at the center of radical political discourse, serious academic research and public
imaginations of personhood and identity.

This workshop aims to address the theoretical, critical and radical aspects of indigeneity in
relation to spatiality, identity politics and belonging from cross disciplinary perspectives, bringing
together scholars from different disciplines, e.g. anthropology, sociology, political science, psychology,
history and literary studies. It intends to engage critically in debates on indigeneity in its ideological
trajectories to determine its theoretical and political destination. This workshop examines the current
state of the idea of indigeneity in a de-territorialized world by exploring the multi-dimensional
formations of political and national identity and critically assessing the scalar and temporal dimensions
of indigeneity’s sources, contents, and its connectedness with related concepts. Thus, the workshop will
especially investigate the inter-relationship of spatiality, identity politics and belongingness to embark
on a deep understanding of the futures of indigeneity.

Programme Layout

Keynote and Abstracts

Keynote Speaker (Hans Kilian Lecture):

Sax, William (University of Heidelberg)

List of participants (in alphabetical order):

Baird, Ian (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Bender, Cora (University of Munich)

Chakkarath, Pradeep (Ruhr-University Bochum)

Chandra, Uday (Max Planck Institute, Göttingen)

Gabbert, Wolfgang (University of Hannover)

Gerharz, Eva (Ruhr-University Bochum)

Herzog-Schröder, Gabriele (University of Munich)

Kaltmeier, Olaf (University of Bielefeld)

de Maaker, Erik (University of Leiden)

Pelican, Michaela (University of Cologne)

Rescher, Gilberto (Ruhr-University Bochum)

Uddin, Nasir (Ruhr-University Bochum & University of Chittagong)

Zehmisch, Philipp (University of Munich)


Bal, Ellen (VU University Amsterdam)

Platt, Kristin (Ruhr-University Bochum)

Sax, William (University of Heidelberg)

Straub, Jürgen (Ruhr-University Bochum)


Dill-Riaz, Shaheen (Film Maker, Berlin)