Effect and Reaction of Globalisation


The paper deals with the analysis of globalization in the context of indigenous people of Central America, South Africa, and South India. The communities of San, Yanomami, and Toda are considered to be the elements of the global society representing its diversity as well as objects for cultural homogeneity. Incorporation of tribes into modern states is considered to be an attempt to defend national identity as well as an option for getting access to natural resources. Participation in the market economy is described to be of limited opportunities. San of Southern Africa still represents the lowest labor class. The Yanomami and Toda people are distinguished as the most resistant to external influence. Moreover, the study indicates numerous challenges of representation of indigenous rights in the national and global arena. The controversy of the problem concerns environmentalist determination of ancient societies and their attempts to become active members of market economy. On the way, political and social activity serves the arena of their self-identification.

Key words: globalization, indigeneity, San, Todas, Yanomami.

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Effect and Reaction of Globalisation

Globalization appears to be a representative feature of the rapidly developing international society. In this light, primitive cultural groups serve the last shelters of natural and cultural uniqueness. The San Bushmen hunters, Yanomami and Toda people constitute the social polygons where globalization comes in conflict with a balanced coexistence with nature. While becoming the members of the global community, those peoples learn to defend their rights for equality and land ownership. Being the synonym of sustainable development, indigenous communities are limited in their activities and actions to become nationally legitimized. Modern reactions to the external threats result in the organized public movements supported by the international efforts.

Incorporation into the Global Society

The issue of incorporation into modern nation states is closely connected with the developmentalism of the 60-70s of last century. Indigeneity became the ground for the nation self-determination of post-colonial countries while indigenous tribes constituted territorially restricted cells of the national social systems. Still, the issues had different manifestations around the world due to the regional culture policies. Often, the globalization still reinforces dispossession and intrusion making indigenous people the most vulnerable to external powers.

The 20th century’s globalization in the Amazonian jungles of central South America manifested itself in the predominant involvement of state powers in the incorporation of indigenous communities. The state activity referred to the provision of access to remote and unigue socio-ecosystems for national and international investors. As a result, Indian forest communities meet the potential environment filled in with roads and mineral resources. The Yanomami tribe became involved in the exploration process only in the 1970s with the invasion of gold miners. Together with the state authorities, they tried to generate control in and over indigenous economies. In addition, the nation-building activities were directed to provide Amazonian land with the infrastructure within limited public funding for the local population.

Another tribe of Toda people is considered to be a unique vegeterian community that struggles to stay biologically sustainable within the Indian national policy of territorial determination. Tobias and Morrison suggest that globalization might be dangerous for them since they are, in comparison to the neighboring agricultuaral communities, the last tribes living in harmony with natural ecosystems. In the beginning of the 19th century, Todas settlements were surrounded by pastures and forests. They were involved in the simple exchange between tribes without marketplaces. The policy of the British powers in the late 19th century included the village forests and pastures, and they intruded into the reservations on the basis of previous rights of ownership. The Toda community became separated from the other groups by their typical environment.

Hence, the homogenization of social and natural environment constituted an essential issue of incorporation into the global society. In particular, expansion of eucalyptus, tea, and acacias plantations in the Nilgiri Hills in South India in the 19th and 20th  centuries became one of the triggers of globalization in the region that predisposed social and economic changes for indigenous people. According to the findings by Bennett, those changes provided the generation of new socio-ecological systems governed by the local elite and settlers. Meanwhile, the wild and nomad character of the Toda people among other tribes made them the most resistant to the external effects.

Finally, territorial determination of the San Bushmen of South Africa contributed  to the controversial process of local globalization in the 20th century. The San are considered to be the most intensively transforming indigenous communities. The policy of ethnic separatism, exploitative farming, and environmentalism resulted in the apartheid reservations, resettlement camps following colonial designation of primitive humanity groups.

Market Economy and the Ancient Societies

Incorporation into national and global communities means participation in the market economy. Being primitive social communities, indigenous groups are the least competitive on the labor market. The situation concerns all the above mentioned tribes. Still, the resettled San farmers turned out to be the most vulnerable group.

Colonial rules in Southern Africa created the phenomena of Bushmen underclass and resettlement camps that are still sustained. Initially, British colonization in South Africa meant selective participation of the Bushmen in the farming established by settlers. Such peculiarities linked to the seasonal hunting and cultural stereotypes contributed to the current inequal position in the labor market hierarchy. After the independence of the South African countries, San workers became not needed as much though losing their ground for existence. The Bushmen farmers used to say “You can take the Bushman out of the bush, but you can’t take the bush out of the Bushman”. Modern conditions of decline of state support, increasing role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and liberalizing market economy presupposed new ways of corruption and exploitation of the San workforce.

Similarily to the Kalahari region, the phenomena of colonial plantations led to the establishment of market-based capitalism in the Nilgiris Hills in South India. Such a type of economy turned out to be beneficial for large land-owners and capital-intensive industries. Still, it became possible by the resource of indigenous lands that belonged to the forest ecosystems. Later on, the extensive agriculture practices and permanently rising pressure on the land in independent India caused limitations of vital space for the Toda.

Positive and Negative Effects of Globalization

The process of globalization with numerous challenges made ancient societies adapt to the new rules of social and economic life. The tribes of Toda, Yanomamo, and San Bushmen experienced the lack of support and rights, indebtedness, and poverty. Meanwhile, the same issues made indigenous people become aware of social, political, and economic processes protecting their equality.

Marginalization seemed to be the primary negative effect of globalization common for all the tribes. Jaysawal indicates several features of globalization of indigenous societies in India. He argues that displacement, alienation, indebtedness, “deprivation of  forest rights,” poverty, and loss of self-identity are main negative effects of globalization. In particular, the Toda people have faced dangers of losing their rights for land ownership and their cultural extinction. The external environmentalist policy in Botswana also highly contributed to the displacement of the Bushmen. The foundation of Central Kalahari Game Reserve and nature reservations predisposed the loss of typical environment and ground for self-sufficiency for the San. Though such a displacement was designated for stability and economic benefits, tribal populations with no supervision remained incompetitive and humiliated. The same outcome was considered by some Europeans enough to return tribal communities to their only possible place of existence.

Being a part of cruel globalization, the San tend to become politically active. In particular, since the 1970s their activities have concerned the defense of economic and social independence. Land ownership turned out an essential challenge to defend since they acknowledged as the nomads and hunters. The problem became the most raised in Botswana, where the group initiated the set of efforts manifested in demonstrations, commercial actions, and occupation of lands to obtain full-fledged rights. Hence, the political processes serve as a positive trigger for the ethnicity to be recognized while being in the lower social  status.

The vision of the Todas as the “undifferentiated, ahistorical, and perfectly immobile” made them a necessary part of local landscapes. The 19th century’s practice of colonial forest reservomania changed with the nature protection in India supported by international players. Consequently, the imperial definition and later international ecological movement  enabled globalization to work for their uniqueness. Such conditions also may endanger the possibility of the Todas to resist. Hence, only external feeding seems to be the most significant  option for their stability.

Reaction of External Threats

External threats became the backgrounds for the international recognition. Conklin indicates that the rising interest in the environmental policies enabled the indigenous people resist to the globalization challenges. In particular, the regional struggle of Amazonian tribes for acknowledging their rights turned out to be successful in the period of international environmentalism. International non-governmental organizations (NGOs) replaced older power policy of imperialists with the human resources and financial investments, in particular in the 1990s.

On the other turn, the above mentioned processes referred to the controversy of the universalism and localism features in the defence of ancient societies. The conflict between local needs of indigenous people and outsiders’ suggestions manifested itself in the struggles for the natural resources control by national or international powers. In the light of this problem, Yanomami people faced the difficult choice of support. In particular, the defence of land rights became possible under the supervision of activists. Still, environmentalist organizations focused on the protection of natural resources within the communities  rather than self-determination of Amazonian Indians. Meanwhile, incorporation into the global market became limited because of the restricted options to offer by the protected tribes.

As a result, sustainable development and the nature protection movements turned out to be a primary threat for effective inclusion in the global support services. In the case of inconsistency of Indians’ lifestyle with ecological directives, loss or ravage of native environments, the tribe becomes an outsider in the global market.

Indigeneity is another argument for the San tribes of Southern Africa to protect their land ownership. San people are noted to distinguish themselves to be hunter gatherers while representing the land to which they organically belong. Being culturally priviliged by globalization, San groups are limited in the development by global means. The same situation happened with Yanomami and Toda people. Still, while the San reveal more interest in active participation in the global society and market, the Yanomami and Todas prefer to remain in the traditional environment with the minimal outer contacts. Natural boundaries and remote location contributes to such a position.

Despite described restrictions, international arena offered a wide space for resistance. Accordingly, tribal communities have achieved opportunities for external support, creation of regional networks, and acknowledgment of indigenous rights by international organizations such as United Nations. Advocacy teams and journalism movement appeared to be additional resources for contestation of communities’ status.  The set of supportive supranational institions arose in the 1960s as a reaction to deepening globalization. “The Minority Rights Group, Survival Intenational , the Kalahari Peoples Fund, Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Sothern Africa” are the examples of united movements. Lobbying of interests of the indigenous people constitutes an essential direction of NGOs’ activity. For example, the support of environmental NGOs in Brazil Amazon led to the recognition of Constitutional Rights and demarcation of indigenous territories. In comparison, the San activists also tend to represent the voice of indigenous people as the essential markers of African nations.


Globalization reshaped the functioning and interaction of the societies worldwide. The indigenous communities seem to be the most vulnerable elements of the global network. Incorporation of the tribes into national and global systems manifests in the spatial, social, and economical determination. The examples from the history show that the communities of Yanomami, San Bushmen, and Toda have undergone transformations to become the members of nations. Their establishment in the states often meant limitation of their rights, activities, and land. The market economy appeared to be the primary challenge of participation. Consequently, the loss of property and rights, self-identity, exploitation, and poverty are the negative results of globalization. On the other hand, challenging conditions served as the main triggers for political activity of indigenous groups. Still, specific self-recognition by the San, Todas, and Yanomami explains different levels of external activity and type of interaction with the globalized world.

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