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Book review: "In the Way of Development"

Jamie Kneen Communications and Outreach Coordinator responsible for: strategic research, social media, and public engagement; our Africa program, environmental assessment, and uranium mining.

This book is based on a collaboration of indigenous leaders, social activists and scholars. It explores indigenous peoples’ struggles to maintain control of their lives and lands in the face of increasing and accelerated encroachment of globalized industrial and commercial “development.”

The book approaches indigenous peoples caught up in these struggles not merely as “victims” or “subjects” of development aggression – although they may be such at times – but also as active agents of resistance and change, and as shaping both their own continuity and transformation. This local and culturally rooted process, which is set against imposed forces of development, is characterized as “life projects.”

“Life projects” reflect efforts by local groups to define themselves and their own place in the cosmos in the face of, and sometimes in opposition to, a complex web of marketplace pressures, state-mandated development, globalized capital and power struggles over finite resources.

The stories that illustrate the broader themes of this book are drawn mainly from North America, particularly the Cree, Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), and Chippewa Ojibwe (Anishnaabe) peoples. But there are also studies from South America and the Former Soviet Union.