Sub-theme 3. Indigenous peoples and globalisation
Self-recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Self-government for Responsible Territorial Management
Human history informs us that indigenous peoples have lived self-governed and self-determined long before forming modern nation-states. Their self-government systems were based on humanistic values and emancipative characters guided by customary laws and institutions. Despite centuries of colonization, both internal and external, Indigenous Peoples continue to maintain a certain degree of their self-government systems through traditional processes and consciously self-recognized, which is ‘informal governance’ in the language of the states. It continues to exist parallel to the state’s systems despite systematic suppression and control of the states. The coercive interventions of the states through militarized ways compelled Indigenous People to defend themselves with armed resistance. The acceleration of militarization from both sides often caused the misappropriation and excessive exploitation of resources in indigenous areas. On the other hand, the imposition of the state administrative systems, enforcement of modernity, and penetration of major religions have changed the worldview and the meaning of territorial governance of Indigenous Peoples. The new rationale developed along with colonized worldviews in the post-colonial contexts has disrupted the land-based indigenous relational values and principles of self-government systems of Indigenous Peoples, which led to adapting to the modern way of life. Traditionally, self-government systems are often functioned and exercised at the communal level. However, the new rationale and understanding of self-recognized autonomy and self-government transcend to the monolithic forms by devising modernized political mechanisms and narratives. Considerably, articulating Indigenous self-government systems is an adaptation of the concept of modern political and territorial autonomy systems and new ways of life in the contexts of post-colonial settings. From the Indigenous Peoples’ perspective, the assertion of Indigenous self-government is self-recognition, movement building and redefining their social norms and institutions to prevent losing control over their territories and establishing stable and responsible territorial management systems for everyone.
1. From local to local, or how to build resilience that respects vulnerable populations: a case study from Malawi
University of Geneva, Switzerland
International cooperation involves a growing number of actors ranging from non-state actors to the private sector. International aid may seem to be perfect to disconnect from local realities on the ground. Aid policies will put in place the desire to develop the resilience of the most vulnerable. The concept of resilience, a concept often criticized, aims to combat the risks of the most vulnerable populations. This concept of resilience can lead us to believe that non-state actors acting on the ground and who have suffered a disaster have the desire to empower individuals in the face of disasters. This case study work in Malawi on the implementation of actions for resilience by local actors has allowed us to establish the link to the importance of locating humanitarian and post-catastrophe aid. Indeed, this approach to resilience allows us to show that when local actors are involved, ethical resilience can emerge. With this work, we ask the following question: how does the involvement of local actors in post-disaster management enable the development of resilience among the most vulnerable? To answer this research question, we are conducting a case study by a local NGO in Malawi in addition to conducting about twenty interviews.
2. Management of local commons, gender and civil society: The Case of Tribal Villages in Odisha in Eastern India
University of Delhi, India
‘Mahila Manda’l (women’s collective) is one of the central thrusts of civil society organization, Agragamee’s strategy in the western tribal region of Odisha in eastern India. Mahila mandal is a women’s group at village level for the purpose of managing natural resources. Agragamee underlines the critical role of women in collective action for natural resource management. The resources in question are primarily common pool resources such as pastureland, community forests, degraded forest lands, village wastelands, and others. Agragamee’s mahila mandal initiative seeks to address the lack of gender equity and women’s agency in resource access, control, and management in the region. It is important to look at the impacts of mahila mandal on the agential capacity of village women and on wider structural level while assessing it. It can be stated as a fact that mahila mandal, by actively involving village women with natural resources and ecological processes, has made a positive impact on the local social relations and unequal power structures. However, actual functioning of mahila mandal demonstrates that women have uneasy negotiations with village men in the context of deep-rooted gendered power relations. On the basis of my long ethnographic fieldwork in the region, I argue in this presentation that mahila mandal plays a crucial role in local natural resource management, especially when it is associated with a local civil society organization. At the same time, mahila mandal needs to critically reflect in order to overcome certain significant weaknesses and challenges.
3. Evolving property rights among Adivasis in Kerala : Muthuvans and Forest Rights Act
Pondicherry University, India
The paper focuses on the nature of land relation among indigenous population / ‘adivasis’ in Kerala. Muthanga land struggles of the Scheduled Tribes(STs) in North Kerala is one such event which attained public attention as an adivasi social movement. The enumerated thirty-six indigenous communities in the state hold numerous identical and otherwise varied social concerns related to land and their livelihood. Here, the Muthuvans of Idukki, who were traditional shifting cultivators and now settled agriculturists have a dynamic relationship with the land. The continuum of informal-formal property rights is in existence with the implementation of forest dwellers’ act. The paper attends the intricacies of formalizing the land rights and loosing the spirit of ‘commons’ among the community.
4. Globalization impacts on Forest conservation through indigenous knowledge sharing and application: A case study of the Ogiek Community
1University of Nairobi, Kenya, 2Dimitrie Cantemir University, Romania
This paper examines the trends of Mau forest destruction and settlement by other land communities and their impacts on the conservation of the Mau forest. The paper also tries to examine the impact of globalization on forest conservation efforts against the use of common goods in the forest as relates to the Ogiek indigenous community that lay claim of the Mau Forest resources. Efforts made by the Kenyan Government and the Ogiek community in the conservation of the forest are explored in trying to understand the best options for the conservation of the forest in a sustainable manner. Field observations, focus group discussions and questionnaires will be used in the collection of the relevant information and in bridging the gap between actual situations and the expected scenarios on the ground. The results from the study are expected to highlight the implication of the forest resources extraction by both communities living near the forest and other external users. The paper proposes the strengthening of the harmonious existence of the Ogiek community with the forest by resettling the community back into the forest and allowing use of the forest resources and conservation at the same time. The indigenous knowledge by the community should be tapped by the authorities and shared with the neighboring communities and the world in general in its efforts to sustainably conserve and use the Mau forest and common resources globally.
5. ‘Jal-Jungle-Zameen’ as commons – the story of Mendha Lekha Village, India
Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bangalore, India
This paper discusses the unique efforts by an indigenous village called Mendha Lekha (Maharashtra, India) towards ensuring that their natural resources of ‘Jal , Jungle, Zameen’ ( Waters, Forests, and Lands) are governed and managed as commons.
Mendha Lekha village is well known for its declaration of Self-Rule. Also well known is its remarkable struggle for being the first Indian village that obtained Community Forest Rights (CFR) in 2009. The village residents represented by the village general assembly (gram sabha) have the legal rights and responsibilities to use, manage, and conserve the 1,800 hectares of forest falling within the customary boundary of the village.
What is less known, however, is how the Indigenous community of Mendha mobilized itself to ensure water becomes a common property even before they organized themselves around CFR. Or, how by 2014, Mendha village residents prepared themselves to apply for the Gramdaan Act of Maharashtra. Under this act legally there is no private agriculture land in this village anymore . All land belongs to the whole community or gram sabha.
These ideals of democracy and equality are now spreading to many other villages of the district called Gadhchiroli (Maharashtra State) in which Mendha Lekha is situated and from 2018 hundreds of villages in Maharashtra have started a similar journey.
This paper will present Mendha Lekha’s story of participatory democracy and village level socialism from a commons’ perspective. It will conclude by discussing the relevance today and future possibilities of such radical action not only in India, but in other parts of the world.