This chapter proposes to move towards a field of ‘critical indigenous rights studies’. The term ‘critical’ refers to an attitude of questioning the content, functioning and potential of law, going beyond a mere ascertainment of implementation gaps. Studying indigenous peoples’ rights from a critical perspective benefits from an interdisciplinary outlook as well as from adopting a realist (as opposed to an idealised) approach towards indigenous peoples.
The chapter also identifies possible new directions in indigenous rights research. They include heterogeneity, transformation and hybridity of indigenous identity; the relevance of indigenous rights for the common interest of society; the role of indigenous rights as a stepping stone towards the recognition of rights of non-indigenous groups; the effects of indigenous rights in social and cultural change; and indigenous peoples’ counter-hegemonic strategies of resistance. What all these topics have in common is a concern with breaking the isolation of indigenous rights (research). It is submitted that this would contribute to improving social justice for both indigenous peoples and societies at large.