Working Paper 21

Equality, group rights, and corporate ownership of land. A comparative perspective of indigenous dilemmas in Australia and Namibia.

Thomas Widlok

Abteilung ‚Resilienz und Transformation in Eurasien’

Jahr der Veröffentlichung


Working Paper 21

The issue of group rights has undergone a "cultural turn" with discussions now focusing on minority rights, indigenous group rights, and multiculturalism. This comparative analysis looks at the dilemmas faced by indigenous people in Australia and Namibia who in order to protect and defend distinctive principles of their sociality, such as equal access to land, have to violate these very principles as they become incorporated groups. This paper argues that the debate about the possible ways for Australian Aborigines and Namibian San to become incorporated bodies which allow for flexibility and autonomy is potentially relevant for any group of people living in a world that is increasingly dominated by corporate players. The conclusion drawn from comparing these diverse cases is that the question is not which or how many rights a nation state or a civil society based on liberal principles can afford to grant to corporate cultural groups but rather what a civil society would need to look like in order to accommodate open-ended processes of association and disassociation among its individual agents

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