Environmental governance through "Speaking Like an Indigenous State" and respatializing resources: Ethical livelihood concepts in Bolivia as versatility or verisimilitude?

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Abstract

This research addresses recent environmental governance in Bolivia through its relations to indigeneity and respatializations. It introduces and develops the concept of "speaking like an indigenous state" to examine the Bolivian state's recent use of a pair of indigenous linguistic concepts, Living Well and Earth Mother, representing the identities of citizens and their rights to resources and livelihoods. State relations to indigenous social movements highlight the use of Living Well and Earth Mother concepts through accommodation, resistance, and protaganism. Six active issues of environmental governance are examined: (1) climate change and justice movement; (2) agrarian reform, agrobiodiversity, and food justice; (3) water resources; (4) indigenous territories; (5) Protected Areas; and (6) extractive industries (mining, hydrocarbons). The usages of Living Well and Earth Mother show versatility as they have been mobilized in the respatializing of the politics and social-power dynamics of environmental issues at scales of the state, global and international institutions, and community and local levels. Analysis also reveals deployment of Living Well and Earth Mother that is discursively influential and yet conceptually reduced and unevenly applied, thus suggesting a characteristic of verisimilitude. My analysis determines that respatialization at various levels, including territorial transitions of sub-national regional spaces, are associated with the heightened articulation of environmental governance through indigeneity and "speaking like an indigenous state" amid resource nationalism. Linkages and logics operating within this conjuncture differ from the prevailing interpretation of the Bolivian state's use of Living Well and Earth Mother as solely an unwitting contradiction or instrumentalist camouflage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-324
Number of pages11
JournalGeoforum
Volume64
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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