Nation-states confront the global: Discourses of indigenous rights in Fiji and Tanzania

Erik W. Larson, Ronald Aminzade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


How do global issue constructions serve as resources for actors engaged in domestic political contention, and what does the appropriation of global ideas by domestic actors imply about the spread of global culture? To contribute to knowledge about conflict-based diffusion of global ideas, we examine the histories of global constructions of indigenous rights and national debates about indigenous rights in Fiji and Tanzania. While global models of indigenous rights emphasize self-determination for nondominant, culturally distinct groups at risk from the nation-state, advocates for indigenization policies in Fiji and Tanzania have argued for state policies to entrench political and economic rights for majority or near-majority groups that were well integrated into the nation-state. Although transnationally connected indigenous rights organizations have a greater presence in Tanzania than in Fiji, actors in Fiji remain more engaged with changes in international indigenous rights discourse than their counterparts in Tanzania. This difference reflects variations in the leverage global culture offered in the two cases because of its externality to national political debates. In Fiji, actors appropriated global culture as a means to internationalize a domestic dispute, while in Tanzania the impetus for indigenization came from global economic pressures. Our findings imply that conflict-based diffusion concentrates agency with respect to the use of global legal discourses in domestic actors rather than the globally connected actors and experts who carry global culture in consensus-based diffusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)801-831
Number of pages31
JournalSociological Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2007


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