Identità “ecologiche” e aree protette: una prospettiva antropologica sulle lotte per i diritti delle “popolazioni tradizionali” in Brasile


Applying an anthropological perspective, the article analyzes the effect of the creation of socio-environmentalist protected areas on the struggles for the rights of the so-called "traditional populations" in Brazil. In this context, these populations are supposed to demonstrate to have an “ecological identity”, that is, a harmonious connection with a specific natural environment. I propose the concept of “ecological identity” to highlight how this kind of identity claim can become a political tool to gain both access to new rights and recognition of cultural specificity by a specific social group. In particular, I will consider the case of the extractive reserves, tracing their origins and developments through an ethnographic analysis of the struggle waged by the Afro-Brazilian community of Frechal against the local landowner. In fact, in order to obtain the creation of an extractive reserve, they reshaped their livelihood and ethno-cultural rights claims in an environmental fashion. Finally, I will propose a reflection on the critical elements underlying this "ecologization" of "traditional populations". I will suggest that this process may paradoxically legitimize a depoliticized image of these social groups. This means that if the acquisition of rights seems to be linked to the recognition of a “biological" relation between human communities and the natural environment, "traditional populations" will risk not to be fully recognized as collective subjects with their own political agency and cultural specificity.

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