Commodifying Indigeneity

Settler colonialism and racial capitalism in fair trade farming in Palestine

Gabi Kirk
The recent proliferation of settler colonial and Indigenous studies of Palestine have addressed historical and present-day enclosure of Palestinian land, yet the question of ‘indigeneity’ is underexamined in this literature. Claims to indigeneity in Palestine straddle varied definitions: a racial category; as constructed through the colonial encounter or preceding colonialism; and as a local relation or an international juridico-political category. Using discourse analysis of a specific Palestinian sustainable agriculture initiative. I show how for Palestinians, claiming indigeneity brings into tension potential political economic gains, social relations of struggle, and discursive formations of collective subjectivity. A valorisation, commodification, and privatization of indigeniety narrows notions to the biological-cultural, offering challenges for Palestinian struggles for sovereignty. I conclude by asking what theorizing from Palestine offers to Marxist theories of racial capitalism and settler colonialism, and whether indigeneity can exceed its commodification.