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Title: Land dispossession and juridical land disputes of indigenous peoples in northern Mexico : a structural domination approach
Author: Almanza Alcalde, Horacio
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis looks at land disputes and the dispossession of Rarámuri communities in northern Mexico by examining the way dominant groups shape the structural conditions for land appropriation and its perpetuation over time. This is pursued by exploring the link between the Rarámuri communities’ decision-making power and their potential to resists land dispossession. The research contributes to a better understanding of the wide variety of dominant actors’ tactics behind juridical dispossession of indigenous landholders with ancestral ties to the land. Archive research and interviews regarding Rarámuri communities’ agrarian and juridical disputes over the 20th century provided empirical evidence to interpret dominant actors’ discourses and practices. These obscure indigenous communities’ land claims, while legitimating, normalising and allowing development-led land appropriation through the use of notions of progress, rule of law and political representation. While the lowest levels of Human Development in indigenous regions in northern Mexico have been found in the Tarahumara mountain range, development discourses and practices tend to neglect historical, relational and political perspectives of development-induced land displacement, thus, invisibilising structural inequalities and perpetuating land dispossession. The structural domination approach aims at the identification of the main structural conditions that indirectly constrain the Rarámuri’s efforts to protect their property or landholding rights from local and external elites engaged in development initiatives. Group dominance and subordination is thus highly influenced by groups’ constructed attributes and, therefore, by the position different groups occupy in the social structure. Archive research and interviews concerning Rarámuri communities’ agrarian and juridical disputes over the course of the 20th century revealed domination mechanisms for land dispossession. The thesis argues that these tactics undermine the Rarámuri’s decision-making power and, consequently, their potential to resist unwanted development interventions. I conclude that, in contrast to brokerage, self-determining practices have been shown to be more effective for securing and defending indigenous land.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available