Conflicts Over Natural Resources and Activation of Indigenous Identity in Cusco, Peru

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Abstract

This study considers the activation of indigenous identity during episodes of collective action in Peru. There has been a sharp increase in social conflict in the country in recent years, particularly over natural resources which tend to be found in territories belonging to Peru's native peoples. Several recent studies have suggested that, in this context, both Amazon and Andean Indians self-identify as indigenous. Starting from the premise that identity is a social construction, we seek to answer the following research questions: do communities involved in conflicts over natural resources in the Peruvian Amazon and Andes self-identify as indigenous; do these discourses reflect an awareness of an external context or potential allies that are favourable to indigenous demands; and how are these claims to indigenous identity received and reflected by local opinion? To answer these three questions, we study conflicts over natural resources throughout the Department of Cusco in 2008, using original data from official declarations made by social organisations, in-depth interviews, and local press archives. Our analysis stresses the importance of a contextual understanding of political identities and the perception of a favourable Political Opportunity Structure in the activation of indigenous discourses in the Andes. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

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Wright, C., & Martí i Puig, S. (2012). Conflicts Over Natural Resources and Activation of Indigenous Identity in Cusco, Peru. Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, 7(3), 249–274. https://doi.org/10.1080/17442222.2012.723905

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