Defining Indigeneity in the Twenty-First Century: A Case Study of the Frisians

Author: Onsman, Andrys


“Andrys Onsman opens this insightful discussion on international Indigenous identity with an examination of the current indigenous identity literature and policy discussions internationally and domestically. The common threads are through ancestry, through occupations of ancestral domains and through the continuity of recognizable cultural distinction. These are the criteria that the lawyers, politicians and economists demand of indigenes and subsequently of indigeneity. He brings his discussion home with a personal yet widely significant discussion of the indigenous identity of the Fresian people who have for time immemorial resided in Northwestern Europe…..This book is bound to create discussion and perhaps even argument. There needs to be no apology for that. At the end of the “Decade for Indigenous Peoples” we ought to be a lot clearer than we actually are about who it is that we are celebrating. This book will, at the very least, frame the questions that need to be asked.” Dr. Nigel Parbury, President, Aboriginal Studies Association, Australia

“Andrys Onsman’s contribution to the growing body of scholarship about contemporary Indigenous identity is sure to have a significant impact, both locally and internationally……it tackles the question of what is really meant by the term “Indigenous”, and seeks to answer the question of who is included under that heading and who isn’t. This is one of the most fundamental questions in Cultural Studies, and one seldom tackled for fear of landing in “politically incorrect” waters. Dr. Onsman addresses the issues in a sensitive but nonetheless direct manner. His research is extensive; his arguments are solid and his conclusions are confrontational – exactly what ought to be expected from rigorous scholarship. The second aspect of this book that is worth comment is the critical ebullience with which he discusses his own people, the Frisians. This book stands up well alongside the current works on the Bretons, the Basques, the Welsh and the Saami. There is no doubt that the notion of there being no Indigenous peoples left in Europe has been dispelled, and the current work exemplifies that. The Frisians may well serve as an example of his argument, but the reader is also let with a sympathetic and colorful portrait of one of Europe’s oldest peoples. I have no hesitation in recommending this book ….” - Lyell Wilson, Lecturer, Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies, Gippsland

“Andrys Onsman’s Frisian case study of indigeneity is a significant international contribution to this ‘discourse of positioning’. This work illustrates, by direct voice, how it is possible to ‘think Frisian’, to express multiplicity of ‘Frisian links’ and to nurture ‘Frisian knowledge’ as intimate expressions of an identity that is neither fixed by its historical iteration, not defined by its resistance to ‘master identities’. – Greg Lehman, Indigenous Research Associate, Riawunna Centre for Aboriginal Education, University of Tasmania

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Acknowledgements, Gers, Grass,
Foreword, Preface
1. Introduction: What is Indigeneity
2. The Assigned Indentity
3. The Archaelogy of Identity
4. The Recognized Identity
5. The Assumed Identity
6. The Politics of Freedom
7. Identity in Language
8. Conclusions: The End of the Beginning
9. The Interviews
10. References and Further Reading