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
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