Seminar: Miranda Johnson, ‘Indigenizing Self-Determination at the United Nations: Reparative Progress in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’

When the United Nations General Assembly passed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on 13 September 2007, it introduced into the international legal lexicon a new dimension to the concept of self-determination. The declaration emphasizes indigenous peoples’ distinctive rights to land, culture, language, and collective identity, as well as their equal rights of citizenship within existing nation-states. It does not propose political independence or sovereign statehood. The distinct dimension of self-determination the declaration introduces is one that speaks of indigenous peoples’ particular colonial histories of dispossession and the restoration of their rights and identities in the present, but without rupturing the sense of continuity of colonial societies. It is reparative rather than revolutionary. It demands a different kind of story-telling and invites alternative theories of political change. In this article, I examine the construction and contestation of an indigenous right to self-determination both in relation to earlier definitions, and among and between the peoples and states who drafted the declaration.

Dr. Miranda Johnson is a senior lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Sydney. A historian of the modern Pacific world, focusing on colonial, Indigenous, and cross-cultural histories, she is the author of the prize-winning book The Land Is Our History: Indigeneity, Law, and the Settler State (Oxford University Press, 2016) and co-editor with Warwick Anderson and Barbara Brookes of Pacific Futures: Past and Present (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2018).

Venue:            Old Kirk 406 (F L W Wood Seminar Room)

Date:               Friday, 16 August 2019

Time:              12:10pm

For more information: Contact Dr Cybele Locke (; 04 463 6774).