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FROM TERRITORIAL CLAIMS TO MEDIATED ACCESS: UNRAVELING THE ETHNOTERRITORIAL FIX IN THE PERUVIAN AMAZON
Restricted (Penn State Only)
Tubbeh Sierralta, Ramzi Michel
Master of Science
Date of Defense:
April 26, 2017
Karl Stephen Zimmerer, Thesis Advisor
Brian Hastings King, Committee Member
Jia-Ching Chen, Committee Member
Indigenous organizations in Latin America and Peru consider territorial control the paramount condition for the reproduction and manifestation of indigenous peoples’ cultural lives, in addition to the security of their livelihoods and the pursuit of autonomy. Geographers and other social theorists have deconstructed territory (Delaney, 2005; Elden, 2010; Painter, 2010), property (Blomley, 2011, 2016; Bromley, 1991; Ribot & Peluso, 2003; Sikor & Lund, 2009), and indigeneity (Anthias, 2016a; Radcliffe, 2017; Yeh & Bryan, 2015). Their theories help to make sense of the shortcomings and unintended consequences of what I label the ethnoterritorial fix: the titling of indigenous peoples’ “ancestral” lands as common property in an attempt to fix or mitigate legacies of colonization. I focus on the failure of the ethnoterritorial fix to facilitate indigenous peoples’ access to resources. After analyzing the relationships between colonization, territory, property rights, and access to timber and gold in two native communities in the Peruvian Amazon, I conclude that the encroachment of extractive economies into these spaces reduces legally titled native communities to spaces of ambivalence and dependency, instead of autonomy. In spite of their common property rights, community members endure tensions between protecting their lands and negotiating their property rights with outsiders, as a strategy for maintaining their own access.
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