With the ‘cultural turn’, the concept of culture has assumed enormous importance in our understanding of the interrelations between social, political, and economic structures, patterns of everyday interaction, and systems of meaning-making. In The SAGE Handbook of Cultural Analysis, the leading figures in their fields explore the implications of this paradigm shift. Addressed to academics and advanced students in all fields of the social sciences and humanities, this Handbook is at once a synthesis of advances in the field, with a comprehensive coverage of the scholarly literature, and a collection of original and provocative essays by some of the brightest intellectuals of our time.

Indigenous Culture: The Politics of Vulnerability and Survival

Indigenous culture: The politics of vulnerability and survival

‘Indigenous’ is the problematic adjective in this chapter. The noun ‘culture’ I am not so worried about. For the sake of starting somewhere, I follow the argument by Helliwell and Hindess (1999) that ‘culture’ is a meaningful category in modern projects of government. Asking why the human sciences have been so committed to the idea that humanity can be understood as a number of different ‘societies’ (discrete, self-regulating) and ‘cultures’ (the ideational unity that makes a ‘society’ possible), they answered, in part, by pointing to the governmental ambition to make populations productive.

It is the imaginary realization of this desire to harness society's resources that presents us with the fantastic image ...

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