What does Globalization mean for Indigenous peoples? What effect will increased contact with the outside world have on already marginalized peoples?

Essay by nutti January 2003

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Globalization is the catchword of the twentieth and twenty first century. In essence it refers to a market driven force which propagates the exchange of ideas and knowledge across borders to all peoples. But what does this mean for Indigenous peoples? As it is the indigenous people who already suffer the most discrimination and face the most disadvantage economically, socially, politically, culturally and environmentally. What effect will increased contact with the outside world have on already marginalized peoples? It is these questions that this essay will look at.


Globalization is "a process in which the constraints of geography on social and cultural arrangements recede and in which people become increasingly aware they are receding." (Waters 1995:3) This means that peoples, nations, governments and states are no longer independent but are influenced by events and decisions that occur at a distance. This had resulted from changes in technologies, communications and economies.

In theory globalization is meant to increase international cooperation and harmony as countries that gain a mutual (economic) benefit from peace do not go to war. It is also meant to reduce material inequality as Free Trade will allow countries to specialize in what they are best at, hence achieving greater profit and efficiency. (Heywood 1997:151-2) As Newt Gingrich, previous speaker of the US House explains "There's clearly a rising general standard of living for everybody." (Globalvision 1998) Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs, also advocates the positive nature of globalization. He believes its "great beauty ... is that it is not controlled by any individual, any government, any institution. It provides people with the ability to communicate across boarders, trade across borders, raise capital across borders." (Globalvision 1998)

In reality however Globalization is a process by which the rich consolidate their power and influence. The least developed...