P12
Anthropologists and the struggle for land

Convenors:
Susanne Hammacher (√úbersee-Museum Bremen)
Hugh Brody (University of Fraser Valley)
Format:
Panels
Location:
Stevenson Lecture Theatre
Start time:
8 June, 2012 at 17:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

Many anthropologists have found themselves at the centre of disputes about land rights. Profound threats to tribal peoples come from rival claims to or uses of their land. This can amount to loss of resources on which they depend, or even destruction of entire territories. In some jurisdictions, it has been possible for anthropologists to work with a community on land claims - a recovery of rights to territory that can mean a new relationship to the nation state, and to the future. In most countries, however, this is not possible, and anthropologists have complex roles as researchers into the basis for defending rights and resources, or advocates on behalf of peoples whose social and economic vulnerability can be extreme. This panel brings together Hugh Brody, Jerome Lewis and David Turton, who have all had long-term roles as researchers and representatives of a tribal group they know well. It will be a chance for them to share their experience and reflect on what it has meant to be an anthropologist whose work is for and on behalf of a people, as well as a part of academic discourse.

Long abstract:

Many anthropologists have found themselves at the centre of disputes about land rights. Profound threats to tribal peoples come from rival claims to or uses of their land. This can amount to loss of resources on which they depend, or even destruction of entire territories. In some jurisdictions, it has been possible for anthropologists to work with a community on land claims - a recovery of rights to territory that can mean a new relationship to the nation state, and to the future. In most countries, however, this is not possible, and anthropologists have complex roles as researchers into the basis for defending rights and resources, or advocates on behalf of peoples whose social and economic vulnerability can be extreme. This Panel bring together three anthropologists who have all had long-term roles as researchers and representatives of a tribal group they know well. Each brings the complication and richness of experience that has given them different tasks, but always linked to the vulnerability of a people with whom they have lived. Hugh Brody, convenor of this panel, will speak about the Inuit and the Canadian Arctic; David Turton will talk about the Mursi of Ethiopia and the implications for their lives and lands of the Gibe Dams. Jerome Lewis will share his experience of land use mapping with Pygmy hunter-gatherers in the Congo Basin, where, thanks to intensive and long-term work, hunters, who do not even write their own names, are using handheld computers to identify resources they are determined to protect against industrial activities and logging on their territories. In all these cases, the anthropologist has had the task of using the results of their own research and new research methodologies to help give a voice to marginalized people and help their defend or regain stewardship over their ancestral lands. The panel will be a chance of them to share their experience and reflect on what it has meant to be an anthropologist whose work is for and on behalf of a people, as well as a part of academic discourse.