Amazonian Struggles for Recognition

Fraser, James Angus (2018) Amazonian Struggles for Recognition. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 43 (4). pp. 718-732. ISSN 0020-2754

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Since the 1988 Constitution, forest peoples of Brazilian Amazonia have been struggling for territorial recognition. Yet studies of recognition in post-colonial contexts, based on cases with clear settler/indigenous distinctions, are highly critical of recognition, seeing it as a form of ‘neoliberal multiculturalism,’ a co-option of subaltern identities with limited emancipatory potential. I question these critiques by examining struggles for legal and intersubjective recognition of subaltern identity categories ‘Índio’ and ‘Agroextractivista’ and corresponding territories of the ‘Terra Indigena’ and ‘Reserva Extractivista’ on the Madeira and Tapajós Rivers in Brazilian Amazonia, where heterogeneous origins of forest peoples belie simple settler/indigenous distinctions. I engage a key question–the relationships of subaltern peoples with state institutions, and highlight a finding – the relevance of the state’s ‘proximity’ - often underestimated in the literature. I build a theory of decolonial recognition combining Axel Honneth’s idea of recognition as love, rights and solidarity with David Scott’s late-Foucauldian reworking of Frantz Fanon. Herein, the Fanonian colonized subjectivity is shaped by the negation of love, rights and solidarity, that is to say, misrecognition. The subject requires legal and intersubjective recognition in order to positively incorporate love, rights and solidarity into their ‘practices of techniques of the self.’ On the Tapajos, territorial struggles are more successful owing to a stronger sphere of legal recognition - the presence of state institutions - and a history of Church and union grassroots organisation, both supporting greater intersubjective recognition among forest peoples. On the Madeira, a much weaker sphere of legal recognition has resulted in a situation of intractable conflict around territorial struggles which have correspondingly less intersubjective recognition. I conclude that a theory of decolonial recognition is of considerable utility in elucidating the dynamics of subaltern emancipatory struggles for territory.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? earth-surface processesgeography, planning and development ??
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Deposited On:
20 Apr 2018 12:24
Last Modified:
28 Feb 2024 01:02