Indigenous Cultures, Sustainability and Globalization

Diana Riboli


What does ‘indigenous’ mean in a globalized world? How ‘authenticity’ was and is perceived in colonial and postcolonial imaginary?  Is a sustainable development, sensitive to indigenous environmental perceptions possible? The course discusses the main threats and challenges indigenous communities over the world have to deal with, in their struggle for survival and recognition of rights.  Through critical sensitive debate and analysis, the course explores contemporary issues and debates of ecological anthropology, anthropology of development as well as the role of indigenous knowledge, practices and perspectives for sustainable development.


Important note:

 This collection of articles and extracts from academic works is meant as educational support for the spring semester course “"Indigenous" Cultures, Sustainability and Globalization”, Department of Social Anthropology, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, in accordance with Articles 19 and 21 of Law. 2121/1993 on “C

Course code: TMH520229
Category: Κοινωνικής Ανθρωπολογίας » Προπτυχιακό
CC - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives
CC - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives


Introduction. Aims of the course. What do the terms “indigenous”, “sustainability” and “globalization” mean? Does “traditional” societies exist in a globalized world?


Contacts and conflicts. Indigenous and non-indigenous cultures’ different perceptions about nature, environment and sustainability.

-Screening of the documentary “From Honey to Ashes” (Lucas Bessire, 2006, 47 minutes) and discussion.


The oppressive authenticity and the case of the New World (North, Central and South America, Australia and N. Zealand)


Ethno-tourism, sex tourism, “spiritual” tourism and the “mutual” (?) exploitation. Stereotypes and imagination about “primitive” peoples and the negotiation of native identities in ethno-tourism. The increase of sex tourism in indigenous groups in the context of postcolonial exploitation.

-Screening of the documentary “Framing the Other. When strangers meet in the name of Tourism” (Ilja Kok & Willelm Timmers, 2011, 25 minutes)


“Shamanic” tourism, ayauascha “trips” and “journeys” and the capitalist pursuit of “indigenous” spirituality.

-Screening of the documentary “In Pursuit of the Siberian Shaman” (Anya Bernstein, 2006, 72 minutes)


Indicative Readings:

Text 1. Bruner, E. M. 2001, The Maasai and the Lion King: Authenticity, Nationalism, and Globalization in African tourism, American Ethnologist 28 (4): 881-908

Text 2. Fotiou, E. 2008, Shamanic Tourism and the Commercialization of Ayahuasca, Peripheria 11: 12-15


Environmental degradation, global warming and risk.

Climate change, sustainability and globalization. How these concepts relate? Analysis of the impact of environmental disasters and environmental exploitation in indigenous cultures.

-Screening of the documentary "The Nightmare of Darwin» (Hubert Sauper, 2005, 111 minutes, with Greek subtitles)


Indigenous cultures’ perceptions and opinions on “risk”, danger and “terror”. The case of Orang Asli (Original People) of Malaysia.

- Audiovisual material.


Indigenous peoples’ suggestions on sustainability. Political awareness and the related extensive use of the media and social networks in indigenous peoples. Cooperation and conflicts between indigenous peoples and environmental organizations. Examples from around the world.

-Visit of Websites, youtube and facebook



Globalization, politics, religion.

The case of the Chepang (Nepal): Christian proselytism, Maoism and environmental changes.

-Projection of audiovisual material


The journey of the Orisha. From African voodoo to syncretic African-American religions.

-Screening of the documentary «Of Men and Gods» (Anne Lescot & Laurance Magloire, 2002. 52 minutes)


Indicative Readings:

Text 3. Riboli, D. 2012. Between the hammer and sickle and the Cross: The Crisis of Political and Religious Identity through Oral Histories of Chepang Nepal. In BAN Boeschoten, P., Bridging the Generations: interdisciplinarity and life stories in the 21st Century. Oral History Association: 153-163. (in Greek)




From world music to the ethno-cuisines. Eating sushi, drinking Coke, dancing salsa. The globalization of sounds and flavors. Influences from / on indigenous cultures.

 - audiovisual material


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