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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

Forest conservation versus indigenous forest territory rights in the Peruvian Amazon : the case of the Kechwa-Lamas village Alto Huaja and the roles of external actors

Egerlid, Josefin; Marquardt, Kristina; Bartholdson, Örjan


The current competition for land in the Peruvian Amazon is a challenge to indigenous communities without legal ownership of their customary lands. This study analyses the strategies of Alto Huaja, a Kechwa-Lamas village in the region of San Martín, to gain possession over a forest area which they consider their ancestral territory. It explores how this struggle is influenced by external actors and ideas of how indigenous territories should be governed. Through a governmentality lens, we explore two tenure arrangements under discussion in San Martín - conservation concession and title - their rationales and their possible consequences for Alto Huaja. Data were collected through observation in Alto Huaja and interviews with nine organisations (governmental, non-governmental and indigenous), connected to Alto Huaja. Findings suggest that Kechwa-Lamas' control over their ancestral lands is becoming more tied to doing conservation than gaining rights as indigenous peoples. This could turn them from farmers to conservationists.


governmentality; brokers; forest tenure; conservation concessions; deforestation; ethnicity; indigenous communities; indigenous identity; technologies of intervention; rendering technical; NGOs

Published in

International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology
2016, Volume: 12, number: 6, pages: 381-405