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Contested Indigeneity: The Development of an Indigenous Discourse on the Bedouin of the Negev, Israel


The article examines the history of the development of a discourse that regards the Bedouin of the Negev desert in Southern Israel as an indigenous people of Israel. This movement has generated a great deal of activity in recent years, particularly the submission of a petition to the U.N. by activists asking for the Bedouin to be recognized as having indigenous communal rights in 2005. The subject is examined in the context of the worldwide recognition of indigenous rights that culminated in the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted on the 13th of September 2007. The article takes account of the processes and activities of individuals who have helped lead and craft a narrative of an indigenous Bedouin identity. It also explores the rise of an indigenous consciousness movement as reflected in states, academic institutions, NGOs, and individuals across the world, with a focus on some of the implications for Israel and the region of the current struggle for recognition for indigenous rights.