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Original scientific paper

What are indigenous and traditional populations? A relational approach to ethnic territories and conservation in Brazil

Ana Maria de Souza Mello Bicalho ; Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Geography Department, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Scott William Hoefle orcid id ; Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Geography Department, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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This article explores the contradictory relationship between identity politics and environmental conservation in Brazil. First, the rationale for setting aside territories for ethnic groups in Brazil that have been historically discriminated against is examined and legal definitions for such traditional populations are presented. Second, ethnographic and philosophical critiques of essentialized ethnic identity are used to highlight how traditionality and conservation are conflated in Brazilian environmental policies. These policies, in turn, are related to another bundle of contradictions in Western bio-centric preservation which (erroneously) essentializes nature and excludes the human presence from within reserves. Research findings from two remote regions located in critical biomes for conservation in Brazil are presented succinctly to illustrate different kinds of contradictions between ethnic territories and conservation. In conclusion, a relational research agenda is offered which avoids the pitfalls of essentialized identity and nature.


essentialized identity, ethnic territories, environmental conservation, Amazon, Pantanal, Brazil

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Article data in other languages: croatian

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