Habermas Revisited: Indigenous Lifeworld(s) Today


  • Jan Lüdert University of British Columbia



One result of late capitalist expansion is the socio-cultural resistance of Indigenous peoples around the world against the"forces of cultural uniformity"and the"appropriation of Indigenous peoples"sovereignty"by the modern state(Niezen 2003, 2). These grievances, with their basic assumptions, are -I argue -encapsulated in Jürgen Habermas’conceptualization of the"colonization of the lifeworld."While the social ontology of his theory is primarily concerned with the constitution of late 20thcentury society, it also provides a repository to investigate the struggle against the colonization of lifeworld(s) under which Indigenous communities within states presently find themselves subsumed. Consequently, I depart from his rather Eurocentric discussion of"archaic tribal societies" that, as he argues,"more or less approximate" an ideal typical"homogenous lifeworld."



Instead, Iaim to illustrate how Indigenous societies struggle for their distinct identity as it is affected by the pathologies following from the colonization of their particular lifeworld(s) today. Accordingly, I do not treat Indigenous groups as bygone ideal types, nor as closed social systems in which the"kinship calculus" serves as a"basic boundary setting mechanism" (Habermas 1989, 193).On the contrary, I view them as resisting collectivities and uncomfortable elements of the modern state that are often in the way of a market economy in search for (and dependent on) a"never-ending resource supply" (Mander and Tauli-Corpuz 2006, 3).

Author Biography

Jan Lüdert, University of British Columbia


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