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How to face the “fight of an ant against a giant”? Mobilization capacity and strategic bargaining in local ethnic conflicts in Latin America

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Since democratic liberalization, local ethnic conflicts have proliferated in Latin America—often triggered by decision-making on extractive or infrastructure projects on indigenous land. This article offers new insights on how to resolve these conflicts peacefully and particularly examines the effects of consultation and territorial autonomy rights for indigenous peoples. The proposed analytical framework refines actor-centered institutionalism with network-theoretical concepts to link the institutional level of rights with interaction-based and organization-centered factors whose effects have not yet been analyzed systematically. Empirical scrutiny builds on comparative process tracing of three exemplary conflicts: the decision-making process concerning a national park in Colombia (as an ideal case with prior consultations), the conflict over a hydroelectric dam in Panama (as a deviant case resulting in ethnic violence despite indigenous autonomy) and a mining project in Chile (as another deviant case leading to a peaceful agreement despite a least-likely setting without rights). For within-case analyses, network-analytic methods are used to examine access and bargaining mechanisms. One of the study’s results—which is of particular relevance for the scholarly discussion on multicultural legal renovations—is that regular channels of interaction of indigenous groups with public authorities foster peaceful interest intermediation. These can be created by consultation and autonomy rights but also by difference-blind decentralization reforms. The empirical analysis also shows how indigenous groups can accommodate to the bargaining logic of decision-making on their land; they do have relevant power resources at their disposal and can deploy them effectively.
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AUFSÄTZE
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12286-019-00417-5
Z Vgl Polit Wiss (2019) 13:93–133
How to face the “fight of an ant against a giant”?
Mobilization capacity and strategic bargaining in local
ethnic conflicts in Latin America
Marie-Sophie Heinelt
Published online: 8 March 2019
© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2019
Abstract Since democratic liberalization, local ethnic conflicts have proliferated in
Latin America—often triggered by decision-making on extractive or infrastructure
projects on indigenous land. This article offers new insights on how to resolve these
conflicts peacefully and particularly examines the effects of consultation and terri-
torial autonomy rights for indigenous peoples. The proposed analytical framework
refines actor-centered institutionalism with network-theoretical concepts to link the
institutional level of rights with interaction-based and organization-centered fac-
tors whose effects have not yet been analyzed systematically. Empirical scrutiny
builds on comparative process tracing of three exemplary conflicts: the decision-
making process concerning a national park in Colombia (as an ideal case with prior
consultations), the conflict over a hydroelectric dam in Panama (as a deviant case
resulting in ethnic violence despite indigenous autonomy) and a mining project in
Chile (as another deviant case leading to a peaceful agreement despite a least-likely
setting without rights). For within-case analyses, network-analytic methods are used
to examine access and bargaining mechanisms. One of the study’s results—which
is of particular relevance for the scholarly discussion on multicultural legal reno-
vations—is that regular channels of interaction of indigenous groups with public
authorities foster peaceful interest intermediation. These can be created by consul-
tation and autonomy rights but also by difference-blind decentralization reforms.
The empirical analysis also shows how indigenous groups can accommodate to the
bargaining logic of decision-making on their land; they do have relevant power
resources at their disposal and can deploy them effectively.
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (https://doi.org/10.1007/
s12286-019-00417-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Dr. M.-S. Heinelt ()
Institut für Politikwissenschaft, Lehrgebiet für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft, FernUniversität in
Hagen, Universitätsstraße 33, 58084 Hagen, Germany
E-Mail: Marie-Sophie.Heinelt@fernuni-hagen.de
K
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... Esta convergencia se ilustra en algunas definiciones encontradas, las cuales abordan el conflicto como resultado de la desavenencia entre actores, las que se anclan en diferencias valóricas y de objetivos entre grupos sociales (Ocampo et al, 2018), como situación en las cuales dos o más actores persiguen objetivos mutuamente incompatibles (Heinelt, 2019), como disputa entre grupos sociales respecto a la apropiación de los recursos naturales o el territorio (Santibáñez, 2018) o como movilizaciones físicas de poblaciones vecinas que se enfocan en el impacto negativo percibido de una industria (González & Zografos, 2017). En su dimensión socioambiental, el conflicto se entiende como una situación surgida a partir del impacto ambiental producido por una determinada acción, en torno a la cual se enfrentan tres tipos de actores: empresas que usan recursos ambientales y generan un impacto, la comunidad organizada en torno a la defensa de sus intereses y agencias públicas con responsabilidades de mediación en el conflicto (Fernández, 2020). ...
... Cabe destacar que los trabajos comparativos entre macro-regiones o entre países latinoamericanos parecen ser escasos (Heinelt, 2019;Fernández, 2020). Respecto a las técnicas de recogida y análisis de datos, la mayoría de dichos estudios de caso se basan en técnicas cualitativas, tales como observación participante, análisis de contenido de medios y entrevistas. ...
... Segundo, se podrían realizar estudios con un mayor número de casos, n pequeño o mediano (Maher, et al., 2019;Campos, 2019), o utilizar métodos cuantitativos (n grande) en vez de monografías. Tercero, invitamos también a comparar de manera más sistemática, ya que los estudios de comparación internacional son un aporte en el estudio de los conflictos extractivo-territoriales (Heinelt, 2019;Fernández, 2020). Las comparaciones permiten poner de relieve las especificidades de los casos, entender el interés empírico específico de una situación, al mismo tiempo que permite entender dinámicas globales, centrales para entender la evolución y el despliegue de los conflictos. ...
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