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Narrating Claims for Land: Think Local Act Global: Indigenous Land Rights as a Strategy for Conservation in Lowland Bolivia

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Lauridsen, Poul Erik
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Globalisation, the Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Conf. Date: June 17-21, 2002
Date: 2002
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/785
Sector: Global Commons
Land Tenure & Use
Social Organization
Region: South America
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
land tenure and use
indigenous institutions
resource management
Abstract: "In Bolivia, the second Agrarian Reform from 1994 recognizes the privilege of indigenous lowland groups to obtain land title for a communal territory in the area they traditionally inhabited. Since 1994, a number of communal land titles have been issued - often to land adjacent to a protected area and interestingly, environmental NGOs have increasingly supported these land claims put forward by indigenous groups. One of the reasons for the increasing support to the lowland indigenous population is that they have succeeded in arguing that sustained existence of their communities is a precondition for protection of forests and bio-diverse areas in Bolivia. In this paper I will illustrate the nature of these claims by examining how an indigenous lowland group, the Tacana, narrate and justify their land claim. The case shows how the Tacana - through representing sustainable natural resources management aspects as a feature of Tacana culture - gain access to support from environmental NGOs in their struggle for access to natural resources in and outside the neighbouring Madidi National Park. I argue that discourses of biodiversity and development has created the room for manoeuvre now being utilized by the Tacana through narrating sustainability as an aspect of their natural resources management and thus making their self-representation fit the nature conservation agenda to be found in international discourses of development. The paper examines how representation is employed in the struggle for access to natural resources, and argues that marginalized groups by the strategic use of internationally accepted narratives inevitably can exercise power by dominating a discourse."

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