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ALICE Advanced Seminar – Alberto Gomes – ALICE in Indigenous Wonderland

Video in English

Coimbra, 2013-01-24

My presentation will focus on the question of how might the ‘surprising lessons’ from the ‘strange mirrors’ of Indigenous onto-epistemology contribute to the quest for alternative epistemologies and visions for sustainable futures.  More than three decades ago, I trekked into depths of the Malaysian ‘jungle’ (my ‘rabbit hole’) as part of my anthropological project focussed on a critical analysis of capitalist-oriented ‘development’ implemented to ‘modernise’ the Indigenes and to draw them into the ‘mainstream of society’. In short, my findings revealed how and why these Indigenous communities have become increasingly marginalised as a consequence of their entanglement with modernity. In my intellectual journey, I encountered so many fascinating characters in what I will call the Indigenous wonderland.  As the exotic became familiar to me I was enthralled by the many rich lessons from this wonderland. These lessons can be considered to be what the Maori scholar-activist Makere Stewart Harawira has referred to as a gift of ‘indigenous ontologies in perilous times’. It would not be possible for me to narrate in the short time I have for my talk the many ‘surprising’ and rich ontological and epistemological lessons from this Indigenous wonderland. Instead I will focus on just two: their sacred ecology which will help us to radicalise human ecology and their historical consciousness which will assist us to ‘naturalise histories’ and challenge and re-map western historiographies which have detached in truly Cartesian way nature from human history. Anthropologists have published a great deal about Indigenous peoples and it is time for us to narrate or translate what we have learned from Indigenous peoples.