Indigenization is the act of making something more native; transformation of some service, idea, etc. to suit a local culture, especially through the use of more indigenous people in administration, employment, etc.
In world politics, indigenization is the process in which non-Western cultures redefine their native land for better use in agriculture and mass marketing. Due to imperialism and the impetus to modernize, many countries and cultures invoked Western values and ideals of liberalism, democracy and independence in the past. But now, along with experiencing their own share of cultural confidence, they desire to revert to their traditional cultures and values.
However, the word indigenization is also used in almost the opposite sense, it means: to increase local participation in or ownership of, to indigenize foreign-owned companies, or to adapt (beliefs, customs, etc.) to local ways.
History of the word
The word indigenization first appeared in a paper about studies conducted in India about Christian missionaries. The word was used to describe the process of making Churches indigenous in southern India. From there, it spread to The Economist where it was used to describe managerial positions and to a book by John Spencer, named English Language in West Africa, where it was used to describe the adoption of English. Indigenization is often used to describe the adoption of colonial culture in Africa because of the effects of colonialism by Europe in the 19th and early 20th century.
History of the use
Throughout history, the process of making something indigenous has taken different forms. Other words that describe similar processes of making something local are Africanization, Localization, Glocalization, and Americanization. However, these terms describe a specific case of the process of making something indigenous. These terms may be rejected in favor of the more general term of indigenization because the others may have too narrow of a scope. For example, Christianization was a form of indigenization by converting areas and groups to follow Christianity.
In this context, indigenization is used to refer to how a language is adopted in a certain area such as French in Africa. The term is used to describe the process of conveying a certain region’s culture and concepts in terms of the language that is being introduced. A common case where a language needed to be indigenized was in Africa where the ex-colonizer's language required some references to African religion and culture, even though in the original language there was no vocabulary for this. As this process is being carried out, there is usually a metalanguage created that is some combination of the original language and the introduced language. This language shares cultural aspects from both cultures, making it distinct and usually done in order to understand the foreign language in the context of the local region. Sometimes the term indigenization is preferred over other terms such as Africanization because it carries no negative connotations and does not imply any underlying meaning.
Indigenization is seen as the process of changing someone to a person of more corroboration towards their surroundings. A large part of that process is the economy of said surroundings. Indigenization has played an important part in the economic roles of society. Thanks to The Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act, black people were offered a more distinguished position in the economy, with foreigners having to give up 51% of their business to black people.China’s Open Door Policy is seen as a big step of indigenization for their economy, as it is opening its doors to the western world. This allowed different cultures to experience one another and opened up China’s businesses to the western world as well, which set China forth in a sort of economic reform.
Another big part of indigenization is social work, although it is unknown what the actual process is when social forces come into place. Indigenization is seen by some as less of a process of naturalization and more of a process of culturally relevant social work. While indigenization wasn’t the standard, it was a way to not only accustom others to a surrounding point of view, but also helping understand both where these people came from and also their heritage. However, some argue that while the indigenization of social work may work when it comes to foreigners being brought into Western cultures, it would not work as well non-Western cultures were those that were being taken in. They also argue that Western cultures seem to exaggerate the similarities and differences between Western and foreign cultures.
Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act
The Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act was passed by Zimbabwe Parliament in 2008. It is a set of regulations meant to regulate businesses, compelling foreign-owned firms to sell 51-percent of their business to blacks over the following years. Five-year jail terms are assigned to foreigners who do not submit an indigenisation plan or use locals as fronts for their businesses. The intent of the law is to ensure the country’s black members fulfill a more prominent role in the economy. Controversy rose over this intent, with opponents stating that the law will scare away foreign investors. Indigenous Zimbabweans are defined as "any person who, before the 18th April, 1980 [when Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain], was disadvantaged by unfair discrimination on the grounds of his or her race, and any descendant of such person, and includes any company, association, syndicate or partnership of which indigenous Zimbabweans form the majority of the members or hold the controlling interest".
This provision allows the minister of youth development, indigenization and economic empowerment, Saviour Kasukuwere, to keep a database of indigenous businesses from which foreign interest can pick partners from. At the time of the law passing, the ruling party in Zimbabwe was Zanu-PF, lead by the president Robert Mugabe. Saviour Kasukuwere is a member of this party, which brought up skepticism among economists who speculated that the database may be used by the party to give its allies the best deals. Mr. Kasukuwere stated that he will implement the law regardless of objections.
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