The Land and Its People: Rights, Responsibilities, and Conflicts

Saturday, February 7, 2015
10:00am – 11:15am
Jones Hall 100A Greenleaf Conference Room
Moderated by: Dr. Kris Lane, Department of History, Tulane University

Ancestral Land or Corporate Land: Conflicts over Identity and Territory in La Guajira, Colombia
Emma Banks, Vanderbilt University

In La Guajira, Colombia, indigenous, Afro-Colombian, and campesino people struggle to defend their land threatened by the Cerrejón coalmine. These communities face a common problem, but must advance their claims through three different legal regimes. The 1991 constitution recognizes ethnic territories, and provides a framework for indigenous and Afro-Colombians, but not for campesinos, to protect their ancestral territories. Furthermore, the state that guarantees these rights also supports a national economic development plan based on mining, two seemingly contradictory responsibilities. Drawing on fieldwork with communities surrounding Cerrejón and analysis of key legislation, this paper explores how both the state and corporate actors manipulate multicultural legal norms to disenfranchise communities and control territory. It also illustrates how communities propose an alternative to narrow state definitions of ethnicity. Although framed as an attempt at recognizing ethnic rights, this paper views the state’s recognition of ethnic communities as a vehicle for regulating land in La Guajira in favor of Cerrejón. Wayuu indigenous communities have successfully claimed their ancestral territories, but as a result have come under greater state control. Legislation for Afro-Colombian and campesino communities falls short in La Guajira, denying their rights to territory and self-identity. In contrast to state legislation, ethnic claim-making “from below” is an attempt to assign land a cultural value and protect it from economic exploitation. The complex struggle over both territory and identity in La Guajira reveals how powerful actors and disenfranchised minorities mobilize multicultural values for disparate goals.

Fenced in Place: Discourses and Practices around Female Workers in China’s Hydropower Projects in Ecuador
Ruijie Peng, University of Texas at Austin

This study explores re/production of social and spatial relations in the biggest ongoing Chinese hydroelectric project in the Amazon watershed in Ecuador. With China’s near dominant role in development investment in Ecuador, the paper relies both on structural analysis of Chinese investment and original and ethnographic accounts and reflections from fieldwork in order to elucidate processes of integration or segmentation Chinese projects entail in the project. Due to different labor regulations, cultural norms and natural environment, Chinese-led development project experience a set of spatial segregation and labor segmentation based on national, ethnicity and gender lines. This produces a new development and management logic that both resembles traditional capitalist insertion in local economy yet distinguishes itself with different types of labor and environmental implications. However, instead of reproducing an imperial model of resource exploitation, China’s engagement with Ecuador and Latin America in general in development has created a new realm of contested social relations and interactions. For example, up to 20% of the workers and other staff have been brought from mainland China to work with Ecuadorians under a labor regime that creates more disadvantages for Chinese labor force than its Ecuadorian counterpart. Does Chinese investment and development in Ecuador represent a different paradigm than global capitalism’s engagement in production and profit? What spaces and social relations produce and are produced by South-South cooperation in development? Reflections from this work urge state and non-state actors to rethink ways in which Chinese state-led investments, Latin American states and grassroots advocacy groups can achieve more equitable and sustainable resource development.

This Isn’t Child’s Play: Delineating Mobility and Property in the Eastern Andes, 1630-1651
Nathan Weaver Olsen, University of Minnesota

In February of 1650, a property dispute between two brothers-in-law, Lorenzo de Chavez Orellana and Juan Sanchez de Aguilera, escalated into a fistfight as the local lieutenant general attempted to give Sanchez formal possession of what Chavez claimed to be his land, in full view of the Chavez family home. Of course on one level, the fistfight, which the Lieutenant General did not mention in his official report, was simply a physical manifestation of rising tensions between the two men. But on another level, this fight in a sparsely populated valley in the eastern Andes was a battle between proxies representing different notions about the origin and meaning of property rights, local citizenship (vecindad) and personal reputation. While Sanchez temporarily won possession of Chavez’s land, he would ultimately lose out in his effort to separate Chavez from his property, and did not prevent the sale of Chavez’s land to the regionally powerful don Pedro de Cuellar Mimbreño. The loss signified a change taking place in the valley in which years of military service in defense of the frontier no longer trumped literacy, documentary evidence, and the knowledge of Spanish civil legal codes. In this talk I will discuss how changing ideas about personal property in the seventeenth-century Andes help us to better understand how frontier spaces became bordered places, and the social implications of such changes for frontier communities.

Challenges to Development: Education, Exclusion, and Accessibility

Saturday, February 7, 2015
1:30pm – 2:45pm
Jones Hall 102
Moderated by: Dr. Laura Murphy, Department of Global Health Systems and Development, Tulane University

Identity and the Millenium Development Goals: Consideration for the post-2015 Agenda 
Shauna Lewis, Tulane University

This paper explores the relationship between legal identity, social exclusion, and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and uses this relationship as a backdrop for evaluating whether a rights-based focus in the post 2015 agenda — with specific inclusion of citizenship-related targets — could improve development outcomes for marginalized and vulnerable populations. Widespread MDG-motivated social programs and interventions related to poverty reduction and access to health and education systems are analyzed to determine the extent to which they are accessible and relevant to indigenous groups, populations of African descent, and those without birth certificates (the argument is also presented that these first two categories are disproportionately represented in the third). The 2013 ruling of the Supreme Court in the Dominican Republic and the resulting statelessness of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent is discussed in the context of comparison of the national policies throughout the region that govern the provision of identification documents and citizenship rights to individuals. In addition, the continued struggle around birth registration and the strengthening of civil registry systems throughout the region are considered, with an eye toward distinguishing legitimate capacity challenges from exclusionary practices. The conclusions of these analyses, and of examinations of the guidelines of existing international agreements such as the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons will serve as the foundation for recommendations concerning the construction of targets and indicators for a citizenship goal addressing birth registration and statelessness.

Ciudadanía y modernidad en Memorias del subdesarrollo
Héctor Alfonso Melo Ruiz, University of Notre Dame

La efervescencia política y cultural que concentró la década de los sesenta en Cuba, producto del triunfo de la Revolución castrista, dio lugar a uno de los reductos intelectuales más importantes de la izquierda latinoamericana, europea, e incluso, norteamericana. Dos grandes debates ocupan de lleno la intelectualidad del momento: la idea de la descolonización y la idea del subdesarrollo. La descolonización de todas las estructuras sociales, económicas y culturales, como una necesidad de primer orden, ocupó sin duda la agenda revolucionaria en torno a temas tales como la dependencia, la soberanía y la libertad. Por su parte, la idea de subdesarrollo, como una condición también económica, intelectual y cultural inherente a los países “post-coloniales” reflejaba justamente el viejo paradigma colonial civilización-barbarie y lo reinstalaba ahora en el centro del contexto capitalista bajo la premisa del desarrollismo. En el ámbito de dichos debates se sitúa la novela Memorias del subdesarrollo de Edmundo Desnoes y la posterior adaptación cinematográfica hecha por Tomás Gutiérrez Alea. Novela y filme exploran la subjetividad de un habanero burgués que, imbuido en sus concepciones de clase, interpreta los vertiginosos cambios sociales que trae consigo la Revolución y su marcha hacia la construcción del hombre nuevo. La tensión entre el personaje y la sociedad (entre el individuo y la colectividad) se plantea a través de una racionalidad europeizante––representada en Sergio y su intelectualismo diletante––y las masas “subdesarrolladas” que remplazan la vieja burguesía cubana, ahora en el exilio. En esta ponencia me propongo analizar los problemas de las masas y la ciudadanía desde dos ópticas: (1) la representación de las masas desde el locus modernizador de la Revolución, y (2) la crisis del letrado frente a esta problemática modernidad.

When Teaching and Research Aren’t Enough: Extensão in Modern Brazilian Universities
Miranda Stramel, Tulane University

Article 207 of the Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988 states that universities should obey “the principle of indivisibility of teaching, research and extension,” with extensão in the Brazilian context meaning the relevance of the university to the local community, or, the ways in which universities facilitate a connection between those with access to higher education and those who do not have the same access. As described by José Ernandi Mendes and Sandra Maria Gadelha de Carvalho in “Extensão universitaria:
compromisso social, resistência e produção de conhecimentos,” Brazilian universities have suffered many transformations in the neoliberal context that threaten the purposes of education as related to citizenship and full participation in society. Ideally, universities create dialogue through presenting varying perspectives and play a social role by facilitating the sharing and co-creation of knowledge. Institutions now run like for-profit businesses, however, with goals limited to the production of a workforce for the global market, compromise the role of universities in modern Brazil. Looking at various case studies, this work investigates the purpose and work of offices of extensão within Brazilian universities and within Brazilian society to uphold Article 207 of the Constitution of 1988, and some of the ways that social activists and academics work together to solve community problems under the umbrella of extensão. Using various interpretations of Article 207 that connect the purposes of higher education to full participation and citizenship, these case studies demonstrate how the modern university can remain relevant to the larger community by fostering dialogic knowledge production.