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Durham University

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Anthias, Penelope (2021). Rethinking territory and property in indigenous land claims. Geoforum 119: 268-278.

Author(s) from Durham


The recent proliferation of indigenous land titling processes has generated debate around the possibilities and limits of indigenous engagements with modern forms of cartography, territory and property. This paper makes a novel contribution to these discussions by highlighting the contradictory effects of territory and property in indigenous land claims processes. My analysis departs from a consideration of multicultural cartographies of territorially-bounded indigeneity and their awkward articulation with the racial regimes of ownership (Bhandar, 2018) that undergird settler and postcolonial property systems. The paper then examines how this tension has played out in the mapping and titling of Native Community Lands in South-eastern Bolivia. I trace how the discursive and cartographic representation of Native Community Lands as bounded, contiguous spaces of indigeneity has been undermined by the socio-spatial effects of propertisation, which has reinscribed colonial hierarchies of race and property, leaving indigenous villages isolated within discontinuous fragments of marginal land. The paper concludes by examining how the tensions between territory and property continue to haunt indigenous resource politics in the Bolivian Chaco two decades after the creation of Native Community Lands.