ABSTRACT

So far, this book has discussed indigeneity through the lens of urbanisation, focussing on why indigenous peoples increasingly moved to cities and how urban indigeneity was defined and redefined by different people who operated in different historical and political contexts. It has also demonstrated how these different persons, whether urban indigenous residents, government officials, international donors, or church representatives, intended to preserve or change understandings of indigeneity and indigenous rights in such a way as to align them with their own interests and motivations. In other words, these people exercised agency, defined as the ‘ability or capacity of an actor to act consciously and, in doing so, to attempt to realise his or her intentions’ (Hay 2002: 94). These persons can, hence, be conceptualised as social actors who operate within a specific structural environment characterised by specific rules and norms but who ‘are not defined by their conformity to rules and norms, but by a relation to themselves, by their capacity to constitute themselves as actors, capable of changing their environment and of reinforcing their autonomy’ (Touraine 2000: 902).