Indigenous peoples and self-determination: a capability perspective
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According to the theory of the capability approach, individuals are the ends and means of development, understood as the expansion of capabilities people have reason to value. Development has therefore multiple dimensions that include social, cultural and spiritual elements. The intent of the proposed dissertation is to investigate to which extent the capability approach, a freedom-centred theory, can be applied to the development of indigenous peoples, and how it can contribute to the implementation of the self-determination of indigenous groups, intended as the ability to determine all aspects of their lives, including their economic, social and cultural development. For this purpose, the capability approach will be considered not in its individual connotation but in a collective dimension, which is central in the life of indigenous communities. The relationship between indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and the capability approach is illustrated with the case study of the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant, that is jeopardizing the survival of the indigenous communities leaving in the surrounding area. The dissertation will argue that the capability approach makes a significant contribution to the understanding of indigenous peoples’ values and to the implementation of political participation.