International Law in Transit: The Concept of 'Indigenous Peoples' and its Travel between International and National Realms - The Example of the Negev Bedouin
EUROPEAN SOCIETY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, 10th Anniversary Conference, Vienna, 4-6 September 2014, Conference Paper No. 8/2014
21 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2014
Date Written: September 4, 2014
By placing law and society in discussion with one another, this paper traces the development of legal norms that travel between international and national realms. To demonstrate this phenomenon, the paper studies the concept of indigenous peoples, in particular its conceptualization and legalization, which begins in the international and then moves between the national and the local. The paper begins with an examination of the concept of indigenous peoples, which is informed by several other disciplines, before looking at attempts to define it in international law. Here, we see the evolution of the international concept is led by InterGovernmental Organizations — the United Nations, the ILO and the World Bank — that have been wrestling with a definition of indigenous peoples since the turn of the 20th century. With a basic understanding of how indigenous peoples is defined, the next part engages with theoretical and methodological questions in order to elucidate the travel of the international concept. In short, we can explain the travel of the international concept of indigenous peoples through a dual process of translation and appropriation from the international into the vernacular. Illustrative for the purpose of this paper is the case of the Bedouin in the Negev, who are increasingly using the international concept of indigenous peoples, and engaging in the indigenous peoples’ movement, transnational networks and programmatic activities. The Bedouin inhabitants of the unrecognized village of Al-Araqib utilize and mobilize the concept in Israeli courts and advocacy efforts, which, in turn, makes the concept active and effective nationally and locally. What will become clear is that the travel of law and the interplay between the international and the national not only produces inconsistencies, uncertainties and indeterminacy at the theoretical level, but also produces tensions, hybridities, frictions and new subjectivities and new legal and political dynamics at the national and international level.
Keywords: International law, sociology and anthropology; the travel of international law between international, national and local realms; the concept of indigenous peoples and its vernacularization; and the case study of the Bedouin in the Negev
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