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(Re)Possessing the Commons: Genealogies, Ancestral Tribal Lands and Conservation in Solomon Islands

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Shillington, Laura
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1440
Sector: Forestry
General & Multiple Resources
Region: Pacific and Australia
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
protected areas--case studies
NGOs--case studies
social networks
customary law
land tenure and use
Abstract: "The embeddedness of ENGOs in the nature/society binary is clearly visible in the ways in which they attempt to enrol local communities in conventional environmental discourses. This is evident in a recent (and ongoing) conservation project in Makira, Solomon Islands. Using this project as an example, I want to show how this particular project to create a protected area - an attempt to materially separate nature and human society was unable to disengage local understandings of socio-natural spaces and was forced to alter its underlying assumptions. In the end, the project on Makira is an example of how conservation (particularly biodiversity conservation) is inevitably a socio-natural project. This paper draws on recent critical work in geography and other disciplines that challenge the understanding of nature and human society as ontologically and abstractly separate.... "...To show how the Makira conservation project fails to dislodge the interwoven social and natural processes, I examine how genealogy, used as a method to identify 'appropriate' stakeholders (those with customary land right), enabled local villagers to (re)claim not only their rights to the forest commons but to also articulate an understanding of the forest as a socionatural space. To begin, however, I give a brief overview of Makira and the conservation project. Then I discuss the ways in which the project sought to reinforce nature and human society as separate and competing, and how the use of genealogy and the emergent discourses of socio-nature that led to a (re) claiming of the commons and a hybrid, socio- natural project."

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