BEYOND HEGEMONIC STATE(MENT)S OF NATURE: Indigenous knowledge and non-state possibilities in international relations

TitleBEYOND HEGEMONIC STATE(MENT)S OF NATURE: Indigenous knowledge and non-state possibilities in international relations
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsJ. Beier, Marshall
ISBN Number978-0-203-16634-5
AbstractAmong the more enduring oversights and omissions of international relations is its near total neglect of Indigenous peoples.1 In particular, the First Nations of the Americas, ensconced within advanced colonial states, have been accorded almost no attention.2 Critical reflection upon the sources of this lapse gives rise to some important insights into the concealed commitments that underwrite mainstream international relations theory and exert considerable authority in defining and delimiting disciplinary problems, prospects, and possibilities. The origins of these conceptual predispositions and of the neglect of Indigenous peoples can be traced to the travelogues of the first Europeans in the Americas, the enduring influence of which in social contractarian thought recommends their treatment as foundational texts of the social sciences. This view highlights the relevance for international relations of challenges raised against the veracity of these formative ethnographical accounts inasmuch as such re-evaluations simultaneously call into serious question some of the most fundamental ontological commitments of orthodox international theory – commitments which have their conceptual origins in the travelogues. Significantly, the neglect of Indigenous peoples is inseparable from the not inconsiderable conceptual indebtedness of orthodox international theory to these earliest writings about the peoples of the Americas. To the extent that the accounts and claims contained therein are not sustainable in the face of challenges brought against them in critical anthropological literature and cannot be reconciled with autoethnographical accounts of the peoples whose lifeways they purport to document, then, realist-inspired international relations theory becomes identifiable as an advanced colonial practice for perpetuating the erasures they effect.