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From proclamation to denial

Indigenous rights and political participation in Venezuela

Catherine Alès

societies and the Venezuelan State have been considerably reconfigured after the advent of the Bolivarian government and the new politics developed within the framework of the “socialism of the XXIth century”. 1 Thus the inclusion of indigenous rights into

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Changing rights and wrongs

The transnational construction of indigenous and human rights among Vietnam's Central Highlanders

Oscar Salemink

In the context of the conflict-ridden relationship with the Vietnamese state and the growing transnational interference by their vociferous diaspora, this paper analyzes particular shifts in the framing of their rights. A notion of collective group rights that are by definition particularistic and exclusive has given way to individual rights (especially religious freedom) that are universal and inclusive. Simultaneously, a localized and communal emphasis has changed to a transnational one oriented toward international fora. Local interests and aspirations thus come to be framed as universal human rights that pertain to individuals, rather than local rights that pertain to collectives. In this light, recent attempts to theorize minority or indigenous rights appear to be ineffective and will probably be counter-productive.

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Protecting Indigenous Rights from Mining Companies

The Case of Ethnological Expertise in Yakutia

Violetta Gassiy

The Arctic is one of Russia’s treasures. However, Arctic economic development means that business is invading lands that are sacred to indigenous peoples. As a rule, regional authorities are interested in tax revenues from subsoil users, prompting them to decide the culture-or-mining dilemma in favor of the latter. But this does not mean that the price of this encroachment on indigenous lands remains uncalculated. Since its establishment in 2010, Yakutia’s Ethnological Expertise Committee has developed a tool for assessing the damage caused to indigenous communities by subsoil users. The problem of getting businesses to compensate indigenous communities has yet to be solved. This article seeks answers to the problem of fair compensation methods and explores modes of partnership and cooperation on traditional lands.

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“Litigation Is Our Last Resort”

Addressing Uncertainty, Undone Science, and Bias in Court to Assert Indigenous Rights

Bindu Panikkar

questions I examine are: How are issues of concern to indigenous rights, subsistence rights, and the rights of nature addressed in state and legal proceedings? And more specifically, how are competing knowledge claims and conditions of scientific uncertainty

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John P. Ziker

This paper discusses flexibility in subsistence and exchange strategies and family and community structures in an indigenous community on the lower Enisei River in north-central Siberia. An analysis of available data on mobility, resource use, and social and economic exchanges contributes to understanding the factors that affect resilience of indigenous domestic groups and communities in the region. The historic flexibility of economic strategies and related social structure is described on the basis of data from the 1926/27 Polar Census. Data from the author's 1997 visit to the area (the Tukhard community) illustrates very similar strategies and variation in deployment of these strategies. New patterns of organization are discussed in relation to the issues of community resilience and indigenous rights.

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Invaded city

Structuring urban landscapes on the margins of the possible in Peru

Sarah Lund

In Peru, land invasions have played an informal yet prominent role in implementing agrarian reform. In the southern Andes, peasant mobilization and land takeover were used as a means to circumvent a stalled expropriation process. Strategic lessons learned in agrarian settings have application on the margins of cities as well. New “urban areas” created out of expropriated hacienda lands in Cuzco were initiated by spontaneous occupancy which gradually became regulated and standardized in predictable ways. Administrative planning becomes a response to land takeover, playing a retrospective role in situations in which internal kinds of development already are unfolding. State permissiveness towards illegal occupancy is a carefully courted prize, not to be taken for granted. Nevertheless, residents invest years of effort in building their homes and neighborhoods, in the hope of eventually prevailing, despite contradictory and frustrating experiences with changing policies and bureaucratic encounters.

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Question of Rights

A Case Study of the Bhotia of Uttarakhand (India)

Sameera Maiti

The debate over the extent to which tribals and other indigenous communities have the right to use natural resources found in and around their traditional habitat is one which continues to take place even today. The present paper discusses this very issue in the context of the Bhotia, a tribal community living in the Himalayan foothill state of Uttaranchal (India); their rights to extract and use medicinal plants vis-à-vis the country's forest policy banning it; the issue of conservation of biodiversity and the place of local communities in such endeavours; the plight of the local forest dwellers in the wake of non-recognition of their rights on the forests, and their interaction with this situation. An attempt has also been made to put forward a few suggestions to solve this continuing and nearly universal problem in an amicable way not only among the Bhotia but also among other indigenous groups facing a similar situation. The paper is chiefly based on primary data collected through in-depth interviews, discussions and observations on the selected group.

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Nicholas Parlato, Gail Fondahl, Viktoriya Filippova, and Antonina Savvinova

continually shifting center-periphery relations. Although TTPs can be seen as an expansion of state discipline and reproduction of power relations that subordinates Indigenous rights to state discretion, they are also an assertion of local interests and

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Organized criminals, human rights defenders, and oil companies

Weaponization of the RICO Act across jurisdictional borders

Lindsay Ofrias and Gordon Roecker

Abstract

This article examines how the world's arguably largest oil disaster, in the heart of Ecuador's Amazon rainforest, has become a testing ground for new global forms of corporate power and the criminalization of dissent. Following the ongoing “trial of the century” between Chevron Corporation and plaintiffs representing tens of thousands of smallholder farmers and indigenous people affected by the disaster, we look at how the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act has been applied against the affected people and their lawyers to sidestep the norm of international comity and alter the parameters for pursuing environmental justice. Specifically, we point to how the case—and a new crop of cases following suit—has threatened to criminalize the use of “lawfare” as a “weapon of the weak.”

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Introduction

Indigenous Peoples, Neo-liberal Regimes, and Varieties of Civil Society in Latin America

Edward F. Fischer

Emerging from the convergence of neo-liberal reforms, democratic openings, and an increase of interest in indigenous issues among international organizations, the growth of civil society in recent years has dramatically altered the political-economic landscape of Latin America. For a number of Latin American indigenous causes, civil society's surge in importance has been empowering, allowing access to funds, national and international attention, and in some cases increases in de facto and de jure autonomy. At the same time, the rise in the importance of civil society goes hand in hand with the rise of neo-liberal political and economic reforms that threaten the material bases of indigenous culture and expose populations to the vagaries of private funding. In this way, civil society also serves as an arena for neo-liberal forms of governmentality.