Contact Information

The Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights
Faculty of Law
P.O. BOX 4
Tel: +358 (0)29 4123140



Rights, self-determination, culture - and what they mean for 'indigeneity'

ECI Brown Bag Seminar by Professor Isabelle Schulte-Tenckhoff

Time: Wednesday 28 May 2014 at 10.15-12.00
Venue: Room P667 (Yliopistonkatu 3, Porthania 6th floor)

The event is open to everyone. Coffee & sandwiches will be provided, so please register no later than on Monday 26th May

Abstract: Rights of non-state groups are generally addressed as raising issues of individual versus collective rights. The purpose of the presentation is to reach beyond this rather imprecise dichotomy by exploring three categories of rights. These are individual human rights, minority rights (understood as individual rights exercised in community with others), and group rights or peoples' rights. All three are contained - if not juxtaposed - in the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This raises a number of issues, two of which will be addressed more in detail. The first concerns different understandings of self-determination in relation to indigeneity. The second deals with the uses and abuses of 'culture' in the debate over indigenous rights. The presentation will be illustrated with examples from the two regions that the speaker is most familiar with, namely North America and the Pacific, which may serve as points of comparison with the case of the Sámi.

Isabelle Schulte-Tenckhoff is Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. Prior to joining the Institute in 2003, she held teaching and research positions in Canada, the US, and France. Her research focuses on the right of self-determination of indigenous peoples. She is also interested in the rights of religious minorities, the cultural dimension of law, and critical multiculturalism. Her most recent book is Introduction au droit des peuples autochtones, to be published by Bruylant (Brussels) in late 2014.

The seminar is part of the project On "Glocal" governance: On the meanings and consequences of the "vernacularization" of Human Rights Concepts. The research project, funded by the Academy of Finland, aims at understanding of how minority rights are vernacularized in municipalities where inhabitants belong to different majority and minority populations.