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Accepted Paper:

Remaining indigenous, becoming global: Activist trajectories and challenges on Cambodia’s margins  
Catherine Scheer (Ecole Française d'Extrême-Orient)

Paper Short Abstract:

By exploring the activist trajectories of Bunong leading figures struggling for their peoples' rights on the margins of Cambodia, we will reflect upon the complex relations between global and local scales of engagement and on indigenous activists’ challenges in fostering diverse relations of trust.

Paper Abstract:

Mediatized images of indigenous activists pleading their cases in international and national fora might leave the impression of a smooth convergence between local and global forms of political action, either through multi-skilled customary guiding figures or through complementary alliances between different types (and sometimes generations) of leaders. However, the struggle for indigenous rights that Bunong inhabitants of the Cambodian highlands have been waging for a decade and a half demonstrates the complex interplay between these different scales of engagement. Internal divisions have been exacerbated or created as external supporters, commentators and news media choose which Bunong voices to amplify and which to cast doubt on, not always appropriately or accurately. This reminds us not only that indigenous communities are far from homogenous, but also raises questions about how different scales of action influence each other, and how lines of confidence are stretched and sometimes broken.

Having followed the struggle of indigenous Bunong people to maintain access to their land and resources in the hilly margins of Cambodia for over a decade, I will draw upon the activist trajectories—the rise and, in some cases the fall¬— of several key actors as well as on conversations with them and with some of those for whom they speak. By reflecting upon the transcalar making and unmaking of indigenous activists, I wish to emphasise the challenges these actors face in fostering diverse types of relations and living up to their often-diverging tests of trust.

Panel P238
Becoming/ being an activist: reflections on a key political subjectivity of late capitalism
  Session 1 Friday 26 July, 2024, -