This chapter offers a perspective on what makes Indigenous sociology distinctive, and why it is important. It is less concerned with “speaking back” or “up” to the sociological discipline and canon than with situating Indigenous sociology on its own terms. These terms are inherently relational. In Aotearoa New Zealand, the concept that best embodies relationality is whakapapa. Often used as a synonym for genealogy (a noun), whakapapa is also a verb that means to place in layers. The chapter explores the multiple meanings of whakapapa—and its relevance for relational sociology—in the context of a genealogical project with a hapū (subtribe) that I descend from. The chapter concludes by considering the implications of Indigenous sociology for Western sociology, in particular what it portends for transformation and decolonization.
Andrew J. Jolivétte
Gender diversity in Native American and Indigenous communities is deeply embedded in a long genealogical history of culturally rooted ontologies that inform contemporary sociological understanding of geographies of gender. This chapter defines geographies of gender as those sites of convergence where Indigenous place-making intersects with settler scripts to resist, remake, and restore tribal and urban Indian-specific notions of gender thrivance. Geographies of gender are therefore a methodological intervening in settler constructions of gender and sexuality. This chapter applies this concept within the United States, with a specific focus on the San Francisco Bay Area and Southwest Louisiana. It challenges the Eurocentric binary construction of gender through an examination of Two-Spirit history as well as by documenting the often underrepresented leadership contributions of American Indian women who engage culturally specific practices to advance Native American and other Indigenous communities. The lives of five women leaders demonstrate how geographies of gender are not only land- and place-based, but also embedded within a cultural system that is specific to Indigenous worldviews and practices.
Donna Cormack and Paula King
Colonization fundamentally disrupted Indigenous knowledge systems, establishing epistemic hierarchies that privilege Eurocentric colonial epistemologies and methodologies. In this chapter, the authors explore how epistemic hierarchies are (re)produced in the current context of “big data” and datafication, in particular for mokopuna Māori in the nation-state known as New Zealand (NZ). (We use the concept of “mokopuna Māori” to refer to and position Māori babies, children, and young people within the Māori world as the sacred reflection of our ancestors and a blueprint for future generations.) The chapter then considers the possibilities for Indigenous epistemic justice in the “zone of nonbeing” or beyond the “abyssal line.”
This chapter reviews behavioral biological analyses of ethnic solidarity and conflict. The universality of ethnic behavior, including frequent altruism, points to evolutionary origins. This chapter reviews the history of research into ethnicity by ethologists, sociobiologists, and evolutionary psychologists. The biosocial approach is unique in tracing causality back to adaptations, including brain functions and the evolutionary processes that selected them. One such selection process is cultural group strategies in which rules and beliefs adopted by a group help it replace others. The most influential biosocial theory states that ethnic solidarity is nepotism extended to the population. Ethnic nepotism theory and other insights have been fruitful in suggesting research directions. These include ethnic group dominance, superorganism theory applied to ethnic middleman groups, the idea that ethnic trust boosts economic competitiveness by reducing transaction costs, and the finding that ethnocultural diversity increases social conflict. Other research concerns national character.
This chapter provides an overview of the negotiations led by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on the renewal of a set of agreements, first struck in 2008, referred to as the “Close the Gap” agenda. It covers three years of negotiations from 2017 to 2020. In the second phase of these negotiations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (hereafter also referred to as Indigenous) organizations were included as decision-making partners. This made a significant difference to the policy reforms and accountabilities outlined in the final agreement. The chapter provides an insight into how Indigenous Peoples can negotiate power in the context of liberal governmentality.
Angela A. Gonzales and Judy Kertész
This chapter traces the emergence of “race” as a handmaiden to colonialism and the consequential racialization of Indigenous Peoples. We argue that colonialism and the ideas that inform colonial structures, such as race, not only serve to hide their existence but also to legitimate the power relations that they establish. As a consequence, the larger context of colonialism created and required “race” to justify the dispossession and displacement of Indigenous Peoples. Here, dispossession and displacement carry a number of meanings, from territorial expropriation to the usurpation and replacement of Indigenous self-identifications. The chapter also calls attention to the process of racialization and the historical legacies of racialized science to make appreciable how colonialism reinscribes both Native nations and their members as racialized subjects.
The Euro-industrial revolution, large-scale Anglo colonization, and the emergence of sociology all emanate from similar societal origins and time in history. Yet despite these shared roots, the impact of colonization on societies or on Indigenous Peoples is almost completely absent from sociological theorizing, even in colonized First Nation states such as Australia. But with colonization, the pivotal social issue for colonized Indigenous Peoples, then and now, a sociology without colonization is not an option for Indigenous sociologists. This chapter emphasizes this centrality through an embodied conceptualization and operationalization of distinctive Indigenous lived realities. Using the author’s Palawa lifeworld as the case study, it demonstrates the intertwined intersubjectivities of Indigenous peoplehood and of Indigenous colonized marginalization that make up the Indigenous lifeworld. In doing so, it also demonstrates that a sociology practiced without acknowledging colonization is, at its essence, flawed.
Celeste Vaughan Curington and Miliann Kang
This chapter examines how racial and gender ideologies shape and are shaped by scientific understandings of beauty practices via a critical examination of the scholarly discourses on skin lightening. Based on qualitative content analysis of thirty domestic and international scholarly articles on skin lightening and whitening published between 2000 and 2017, the authors found that products in Europe and the United States marketed to white customers were likely to be framed as benign beauty products, with health risks attributed to imported products. In contrast, the use of similar products overseas, particularly in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, were depicted as higher risk and locally sourced. Further, by mapping certain skin-related pathologies onto distinct human bodies, these studies reinforce discredited biological understandings of race. Overall, scientific studies of skin whitening and lightening practices enforce the scientific validation of white/western beauty practices alongside the problematization of similar practices/products when used by non-white or non-western subjects. These studies often recognize the dominance of a white cultural ideal but, rather than tracing its structural and historical determinants, instead pathologize those who aspire to it, often neglecting the dynamics of global white supremacy, marketing, production, and distribution in the global beauty economy that fuel the desire and consumption for these products.
Aboriginal Peoples with a disability experience greater intersectional discrimination and social inequality that impacts their social health and well-being. Research has shown that interactions with animals can greatly improve human physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Rates of disability continue to be much higher in Aboriginal communities than among the general Australian population. The reasons for this overrepresentation may be due to racial discrimination, the use of a deficit model in Western interventions and systems, and the social construction of disability in Western understandings. This chapter explores how dogs may be utilized for Aboriginal Peoples with a disability to improve their health and well-being. Dogs have been proven to be effective in many fields of practice, including disability, and may be pivotal for Aboriginal Peoples in providing social and emotional support that has the capacity to circumvent the systemic racism present in (human) institutional practices of care.
In his cultural criticism and creative works, Du Bois followed premises and principles central to his social science scholarship, devoting special attention to the particular and specific uses and effects of culture in concrete social and historical circumstances. As both a creative artist and cultural critic, Du Bois put to use what he had learned about the ontology of Black life from direct empirical study of it, and he gave back to Black people works of scholarship, art, and activism that mirrored their own dignity and worth. From his perspective, works of art functioned as configurations and condensations of social experience that produced political effects and served political purposes. One principle that remained constant in his oeuvre was the conviction that creating music, literature, theatre, and visual art cannot be separated from social practice; that regardless of the intent of its auteurs, art inevitably serves political ends.
This chapter argues that Australian settler-colonial masculinity needs to be decolonized for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to freely express themselves and feel valued. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, settler-colonial masculinity is toxic. Generally, it subordinates or marginalizes those who do not possess particular traits and qualities, or who exhibit behaviors deemed other than ideal, and this is problematic. However, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, even when these desirable characteristics are possessed, settler-colonial masculinity continues to alienate and disempower. By decolonizing Australian settler-colonial masculinity to incorporate Indigenous worldviews, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men will gain greater freedom to express masculinities that are valued. To begin this process, this chapter looks toward the challenges and successes of other social movements aiming to contest gender relations, and the power held by White heteropatriarchy. Based on their experiences, this chapter proposes that the decolonization of settler-colonial masculinity can be achieved by applying an intersectional approach, by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men using strategic essentialism, eliciting support from and working with allies to enhance social change, and educating about the marginalization of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identities.
Coastal tribes are experiencing loss of land due to the cumulative effects of climate change. However, decolonization in the form of reacquiring tribal lands can be used as a tool for adapting to climate change impacts. Guided by an Indigenous worldview and in partnership with a coastal tribe in Washington State, spatial analyses and interviews were conducted to determine the effectiveness of reacquiring fractionated land, such as through the Land Buy-Back (LBB) program, on tribes’ ability to adapt to climate impacts. Reacquiring and consolidating fractionated land through the LBB program can increase the adaptive capacity for tribes impacted by climate change. Additional programs and funding for land and consolidation should be made available to tribes as a tool for climate adaptation.
This chapter examines the parallels of being a Mapuche woman in Chile and being an Aboriginal woman in Australia. Aboriginal women in Australia and Mapuche women in Chile are at the bottom of the racial hierarchy, and both are most fiercely ignored and subjugated. Indigeneity in the life context of these women is a triple burden: burdened with the gender disparity as a woman, burdened with Western feminism largely devoid of an Indigenist perspective, and burdened by the legacy of colonization and its daily reenactments. Against this sociocultural, political, and economic backdrop, Mapuche and Aboriginal women rise daily, and have done so for millennia, as storytellers, healers, and activists, sharing the Dreaming and the wisdom of ancestors. They activate, educate, and lead their communities, reclaiming culture and a oneness with nature. From the periphery of the current world order, the Indigenist female Other tells very different stories about the grand challenges that humanity faces in the 21st century. What, then, can we learn from these women? What can we unlearn from these women? In this chapter, these questions are explored by sharing what these women live by: a deep consciousness that reclaiming old ways can lead a global paradigm shift.
G. Cristina Mora
Racial minority markets today are now multi-million-dollar ventures, but little is known about how these markets develop. This chapter uses the case of Latino media to show how market demands interact with racial narratives to channel the development of ethnoracial market segments. In a nutshell, the case shows that ethnic entrepreneurs exploit stereotypes about racial and consumer differences to build their minority market, but these racialized understandings can also prohibit market growth in the long run. The author contends that the study of racial and ethnic markets presents an important opportunity for economic sociologists to better understand how inequality and institutionalized meaning systems structure consumer markets over time.
Adom Getachew and Jennifer Pitts
Du Bois’s understanding of the modern world order as founded on the linked phenomena of racial hierarchy, imperial domination, and capitalist exploitation constituted a radical challenge to the dominant conception of an international community of free and equal sovereign nations. He maintained that the rise of democracy in Europe and America had been parasitic on imperialism, with domestic structures, and politics, inextricable from their global context. Anticipating later theories of neocolonialism, he argued that racialized, formerly colonized states were not independent sovereigns responsible for their own fates but instead were subjected to novel forms of quasi-imperial economic and political domination. And, while warily engaging with the League of Nations and the United Nations as vehicles of reform, he pursued alternative internationalisms that endowed nonstate actors with voice and representation. He sought, in short, to overturn the democratic despotism of the prevailing order, replacing it with a truly universal “world democracy.”
The systematic dispossession of Māori land in the 19th and 20th centuries formed the basis of Aotearoa New Zealand’s capitalist economy and contributed to persistent patterns of inequality between Pākehā and Māori. Māori were, and largely remain, excluded from the land-based economy of Aotearoa New Zealand. This chapter draws on an emergent body of Indigenous critical theory that seeks to reformulate or “indiginize” Marx’s theory of primitive accumulation to better account for Indigenous experiences of colonization. It describes the settler-colonial process in Aotearoa New Zealand, including the myriad attempts of settlers and the Crown to eliminate Māori and separate us from our ancestral lands. Ultimately, however, this chapter argues that the settler colonialism in Aotearoa New Zealand is, in part at least, a failed project. Māori have not been eliminated and the umbilical connection to the lands of our ancestors has not been severed.
Andrew J. Douglas
This chapter situates W. E. B. Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction in America (1935) within the context of his evolving critical theory of global capitalism and considers the influence of Marxist theory on some of the book’s central claims. Du Bois did not seriously engage with Marx’s thought until the early 1930s, after he had already developed an independent critical analysis of capitalist imperialism and the class struggle. But his embrace of Marx during the writing of Black Reconstruction affected his analysis in three ways: it sharpened his conception of capital as a social relation of production; it emboldened his disillusionment with liberal ideology; and it reinforced his sense that the irrational contradictions of capitalist modernity could not be sustained. Ultimately Marxist theory was for Du Bois a powerful resource, one that resonated with his own revolutionary project, but it needed modification in order to reckon with capitalism’s racial violence and inequality.
This chapter explores Du Bois’s thinking on agency and how it fits into the larger landscape of social theory regarding action and practice. Covering his early work at the turn of the twentieth century through his later work on Black Reconstruction and other writings, the chapter shows that Du Bois offers four related but analytically separable conceptualizations of agency: (1) agency as social action, (2) agency as the creative use of structures in the face of oppressive conditions, (3) agency as independent free will that countervails social laws, and (4) agency as the action of subaltern actors that alters the course of historical events. Each of these reflects the distinct historical context of its emergence and the wider scholarly and political debates in which Du Bois was engaged. They stand as important contributions to social theories of action.
The Du Bois–Washington Debate: The Talented Tenth, the Tuskegee Machine, and the Clash of Black Titans
This chapter offers a critical exploration of the historic debate between W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington and the ways it enriched and expanded African American social, political, and educational thought. Washington’s work is not as difficult to present as Du Bois’s work because, by most accounts, Washington was invariably committed to his accommodationist stance, and his heyday lasted only two decades, from 1895 to 1915. By contrast, Du Bois’s thought was multidimensional and constantly changing in light of new research and novel historical times. He had an almost unfathomable eighty-year publishing career, from 1883 to 1963, and spent more than half a century preoccupied with Black leadership and Black liberation. Therefore, one of the best ways to explore the Du Boisian dimension of the Du Bois–Washington debate is to examine the main theory he created to combat and offer an alternative to Washington’s accommodationism: his classic 1903 essay “The Talented Tenth.”
Studies on the development of fat stigma in the United States often consider gender, but not race. This chapter adds to the literature on the significance of race in the propagation of fat phobia. I investigate representations of voluptuousness among “white” Anglo-Saxon and German women, as well as “black” Irish women between 1830 and 1890—a time period during which the value of a curvy physique was hotly contested—performing a discourse analysis of thirty-three articles from top newspapers and magazines. I found that the rounded forms of Anglo-Saxon and German women were generally praised as signs of health and beauty. The fat Irish, by contrast, were depicted as grotesque. Building on the work of Stuart Hall, I conclude that fat was a “floating signifier” of race and national belonging. That is, rather than being universally lauded or condemned, the value attached to fatness was related to the race of its possessor.