Indigenous Peoples and the Anthropology of Sustainability in Our Common Future

John Ødemark
John Ødemark. Photo: UiO.

In a recently published article, John Ødemark examines the construction of an exemplary and sustainable humanity based upon notions of “indigenous cultures” in the UN report Our Common Future from 1987. Our Common Future first formulated “sustainable development” as a global policy. Through a close reading of the report, Ødemark demonstrates that a combined ecological and anthropological exemplarity is associated with “indigenous and tribal peoples”, who are construed as examples of sustainable living for the global society. Ødemark contends that particular conceptions of “culture” and “ecological” wholes enable a translation between local and “bounded” indigenous cultures and earth as the bounded habitat of humanity, and, through the comment on the report from Ailton Krenak, reconnects the global scale with a very literal struggle over space inside the Brazilian nation state.