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Paper works: contested resource histories in Peru's Huascarán National Park

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Resource histories determine how particular parts of the environment come to be defined as valuable. As elsewhere, protected areas in Latin America link the governance of people, territory, and resources by reinterpreting and reclassifying practices and environments. Set in highland Peru, the article focuses on how such revisions imply contestation of both history and future. It explores particular modes of claiming space through an archeology of the claims to knowledge and legitimacy put forward by a national park and a campesino community, respectively. Claims to space entwine with social struggles about local development where territorial claims are based on different notions of history and interpretations of the esthetic and productive values of the landscape. While the park officials navigate interests of conservation, tourism, and extraction, the campesino community mobilizes a different set of values and interests based on their historical occupation of the territories. These processes of contestation over authority and legitimacy highlight different views on the role of landscapes in the history and progress of local communities. Conservation may not only dispossess people of their land and natural resources, but also of labor and territorial sovereignty. This case shows how an Andean campesino community counters such movements by a wide repertoire of legal and social actions that works simultaneously in legal and extra-legal domains. Paper works mediate claims to territorial sovereignty, people, and resources. These claims involve contestations over interpretations of history which, besides their oral forms, materialize in paperwork such as official communications, community records, and cadastral maps, as well as in visual representations, internal statutes, and deliberate history writing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWorld Development
Pages (from-to)429-440
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2018

ID: 182164885