War at the Margins: Indigenous Peoples in the Second World War

Date
2022-01-31
Authors
Poyer, Lin
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University of Hawai'i Press
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'War at the Margins' offers a broad comparative view of the impact of World War II on Indigenous societies. The distinctiveness of Indigenous communities offers a valuable perspective on the war, as those on the margins of states were drawn in as soldiers, scouts, guides, laborers, and victims. A global perspective connects this work with comparative history, Indigenous studies, and anthropology. Questions of loyalty and citizenship shaped Indigenous wartime roles, from integration in national armies to unofficial use of their special skills, where local knowledge became a weapon of war. Like others around the world, Indigenous men and women also suffered displacement, bombing and invasion, militarization, economic disruption, and forced labor, affecting even areas far from front lines. World War II dissolved empires and laid the foundation for the post-colonial world. Indigenous people in newly independent nations struggled for autonomy, while other veterans returned to homefronts still steeped in racism. War did not directly produce today’s Indigenous movement, but it opened new avenues to Indigenous activism. By century’s end, the Indigenous Rights movement became an international political force, offering alternative visions of how the global order might make room for greater local self-determination and cultural diversity.
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