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Government policies and indigenous rights:: a case study of the San and the Saami

Buswell, Charlotte (2004) Government policies and indigenous rights:: a case study of the San and the Saami. Masters thesis, Durham University.



Various approaches adopted by state governments towards their respective indigenous populations, as they pertain to the Saami of Sweden and Norway, and to the San living in Namibia and Botswana, have been examined, and their impact on the socio-cultural, economic and political aspects of these societies assessed. This dissertation further analyses the rationale behind the implementation of these policies and concludes that the arguments used to justify government intervention were frequently flawed: earlier policies introduced during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were based on perceptions that native populations were 'inferior' and expendable whereas more recent government strategies revealed an inadequate understanding and appreciation of the indigenous groups to which the policies were directed. As a consequence, the Saami and San were dispossessed of their lands, forcibly assimilated into the majority population, and even subjected to campaigns of sterilisation (the Saami) and genocide (the San). It is argued that, although widespread abhorrence of these policies eventually resulted in their demise, renewed threats to the cultural traditions of the Saami and the San have appeared in the form of national economic industries including tourism, energy provision and mineral extraction. The thesis asserts that these new threats have been instrumental in stimulating ethno-political mobilisation and the formation of 'grassroots’' movements amongst the two indigenous groups. Paradoxically, a degree of acceptance of government policies among these indigenous groups has led to conflicts and fragmentation within these movements resulting from the desire by some members to maintain cultural traditions and the wish by others to access the higher living standards enjoyed by the majority populations. The impact of earlier and contemporary anthropological theory on the formulation of government policies has also been examined and adjudged to have had both beneficial and adverse impacts.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:2004
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2011 10:01

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