Tradition and Modernity: An Obsolete Dichotomy? Reflection on Binary Thinking and Indigenous Peoples

Article English OPEN
Germond-Duret, CV
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Subject: GN

The debates over Indigenous peoples and development are often framed within the discussion on the shift towards modernity, the imposition of economic liberalism, and the resistance against external interventions, with a tendency to see Indigenous peoples as a possible alternative to the world economic order. However, looking at many development agencies’ discourses, the idea that Indigenous peoples would actually benefit from modernity prevails. The literature is divided along these two conflicting views and dominated by binary oppositions: traditional/modern; backward/advanced; sustainable/unsustainable, etc. This article discusses the tradition/modernity dichotomy and raises the following questions: is it relevant to think in terms of modernity/tradition in the case of Indigenous peoples? What does the use of such a dichotomy imply? What is the alternative? This article demonstrates that this binary opposition is neither relevant nor desirable, and that a new analytical framework is required. Instead, it proposes to use a Normalisation framework, which focuses on the attempts made to ‘normalise’ Indigenous peoples and encourage them to comply with existing social and economic models.
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