The Afro-Brazilian Collective Land: Analyzing Institutional Changes in the Past Two Hundred Years

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2015

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Abstract

"Afro-Brazilian communities (quilombos) hold rights to a collective territory where they live and that supports their livelihoods. Historically, Afro-Brazilian smallholders have been subjected to contradictory programs and policies that either restrain traditional practices such as shifting cultivation or aim at empowering these communities. This is the first attempt to adopt the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) theoretical framework to study the historical transformation of the institutional structure in Afro-Brazilian territories of the Ribeira Valley, São Paulo, Brazil. Our results reveal a history of long-term, continuous relationships between locals and external groups, sometimes combative and at other times cooperative, reflecting tensions and contradictions. As a result, quilombo communities have gradually emerged as leaders in an institutional arrangement that is moving toward co-governance or partnerships. We believe that if these communities achieve full economic and political autonomy, they might be able to self-govern their territories and reconcile the dual goals of local development and environmental conservation."

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land tenure and use--history

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