Call For Papers
AAG 2017 Boston (April 5-8, 2017)
Session title: Territorial Articulations and Shifting Legal Geographies: Indigenous and Native Rights in the Americas
Discussant: Dr. Tom Perreault, Syracuse University
Sponsored by: Indigenous Peoples Specialty Group, Cultural and Political Ecology (CAPE) Specialty Group, Latin American Specialty Group
Please send a 250-word abstract to Sarah Kelly-Richards (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Joel Correia (email@example.com) by October 15th. Accepted applications will be notified by October 22nd.
Throughout the Americas, indigenous peoples and their allies are engaging the law to defend their rights and territories. Scholars have shown that law can be used to revive, or create, new socio-spatial and economic orders that challenge historic relations between states and indigenous peoples (Postero 2007; Blaser 2010; Anthias and Radcliffe 2015). While other scholars argue that indigenous rights can paradoxically reinforce state authority and serve the purposes of expanding neoliberal spatial governance (Offen 2003; Wainwright and Bryan 2009; Bryan 2012). Nevertheless, the interpretation of law within formal legal spaces – such as courts, state institutions and multi-national nodes of the Inter-American Human Rights System – interacts with and is informed by material, discursive, and spatial articulations of rights outside of formal sites. While international treaties such as ILO Convention 169 are ratified and legally codified by many nation states in the Americas, in practice the enactment of rights varies greatly (Perreault, 2015). From the Willimapu of southern Chile to the territory of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the Dakotas, indigenous peoples and their allies are engaging the law through diverse strategies. In this session, we seek to discuss and better understand relationships between territory, the law, and indigenous and native rights throughout the Americas in contribution to debates in legal geography, indigenous studies, and political ecology.
Indigenous and native rights embody connections across space, time, and scale. Across the Americas, these connections are producing new legal geographies, opening political possibilities, and shifting territorial claims and practices. Both legal change and territorial processes, such as the collective learning of indigenous rights, create these openings and correspondent spaces. These legal geographies and territorial claims are connected to different histories, and processes of recuperation. Roots of current indigenous conflicts are often traced to unresolved and contested land tenure histories that reach back decades to hundreds of years. Conflicts can reflect competing spatial ontologies between legal definition and territorial embodiment, yet these definitions and practices are mutually constitutive (Benson, 2012). How conflicts regarding indigenous rights are addressed within the legal sphere and articulated in territories throughout the Americans present important, timely questions. These include:
- How are different indigenous communities and their allies engaging the law to advance indigenous rights and the material practice of those rights? More specifically, how are human and indigenous rights and natural resource laws being enacted and interpreted within diverse territories?
- Conversely, how are territorial claims being interpreted in formal legal spaces from the local to the international level? In relation to what histories of dispossession and rights recognition
- What legal technologies and mechanisms of cooptation are enrolled by state and private actors, and how are these efforts received or countered by indigenous peoples and their allies?
- How does the law limit the possibility of achieving social and environmental justice in relation to human rights violations against indigenous peoples?
- How does the law exclude or incorporate the spatial conceptions that indigenous peoples use or that are related to spirituality or cosmovision?
- In what ways are legal precedents regarding territorial claims being set within different institutional arrangements of nation states and international legal mechanisms?
- What new relationships are being forged between territory, property, and legal legitimacy?
We encourage submissions by applicants who are interested in preparing their conference papers for future publication.
Anthias, P. and Radcliffe, S. 2015. The ethno-environmental fix and its limits: Indigenous land titling and the production of not-quite-neoliberal natures in Bolivia. Geoforum 46: 257-269.
Benson, M. H. 2012. Mining sacred space: law’s enactment of competing ontologies in the American West. Environment and Planning A, 44, vol. 6: 1443-1458.
Blaser, M. 2010. Storytelling globalization from the Chaco and beyond. Durham: Duke University Press.
Bryan, J. 2012. Rethinking territory: Social justice and neoliberalism in Latin America’s territorial turn.Geography Compass 6, vol. 4: 215-226.
Offen, K. 2003. The territorial turn: Making black territories in Pacific Colombia. Journal of Latin American Geography 2, vol. 1: 43-73.
Perreault, T. 2015. Performing participation: Mining, power, and the limits of public consultation in Bolivia. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, 20, vol. 3, 433-451.
Postero, N. 2007. Now we are citizens: Indigenous politics in Postmulticultural Bolivia. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Wainwright, J. and Bryan, J. 2009. Cartography, territory, property: Postcolonial reflections on indigenous counter-mapping in Nicaragua and Belize. Cultural Geographies 16, vol. 2: 153-178.