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Organised by the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS)

Speaker: Elías Galindo-Paredes (Dalhousie University, Canada)

Unraveling Eco-Corruption: Indigenous Perspectives on Conservation Policies and Transformations in Colombia's Tarapoto Region

The Amazon River, with its ever-shifting meanders, continuously reshapes its banks, inevitably encroaching upon the region recognized as the cradle of the pink dolphins—the Tarapoto lakes. Indigenous communities residing in this area had long anticipated the river's encroachment, recognizing the ephemeral nature of their sacred lake. Nonetheless, both international and local NGOs, in conjunction with the Colombian national government, engaged in advocacy efforts to establish Tarapoto Wetlands as a designated conservation area, a mission to conserve what is “naturally un-conservable.” This collective initiative eventually resulted in its recognition as a Ramsar site in 2018. This endeavor set in motion a phenomenon which I call “eco-corruption,” whereby state and NGO actors benefited from this conservation effort, while simultaneously engendering discord among the indigenous inhabitants as it fundamentally transformed their ways of life. My ethnography amplifies the voices of indigenous fishermen and community leaders, shedding light on their unique perspectives and experiences within the intricate web of conservation politics. By delving into their narratives, my research unravels the complexities of what may appear as a well-intentioned conservation effort but, from their vantage point, emerges as a convoluted venture with significant socio-cultural and ecological ramifications. Indigenous voices serve as an essential cornerstone for understanding the multifaceted dimensions of international conservation and the nuances of ecological policies in Colombia.

Image caption: Amazon River. Altered Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed under the auspices of ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

All are welcome to attend this free seminar, which will be held online via Zoom at 17:00 GMT (UK time). You will need to register in advance to receive the online joining link. Please click on the Book Now button at the top of the page to register.

Programme 2023/24
Autumn Term

November 16 
December 7
Winter Term 
January 25
February 15
March 7

The Latin American Ethnography Seminar is a forum in which scholars who conduct ethnographic research in Latin America and the Caribbean can present their work and get feedback in a collaborative environment, as well as build connections between researchers and departments. You can learn more about it here.

The seminar is currently hosted by the ILCS Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in collaboration with the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CRoLAC) at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), the Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and the Rule of Law (CISRUL) at the University of Aberdeen, and the Institute of Literature, Language and Anthropology at the Spanish National Research Council.

It is convened by Jessica Sklair (QMUL), Denisse Román-Burgos (University of Aberdeen) and Ainhoa Montoya (SAS & CSIC).

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