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"DISPLACEMENT-IN-PLACE": AN ETHNOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS OF INDIGENOUS BATWA PEOPLE'S LIVED EXPERIENCE WITH CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT

thesis
posted on 01.04.2022, 20:18 authored by Savannah M SchulzeSavannah M Schulze

This dissertation explores the complex relationship between conservation and Indigenous Peoples through an ethnographic study of former hunter-gathers, the Batwa, and their interactions with conservation and related development projects on the outskirts of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. Overtime the Batwa at Bwindi have experienced multiple waves of displacement. Historically, the Batwa lost forest territories to agricultural migrants, and more recently conservation policies eliminated all forest access to conserve endangered mountain gorillas and promote gorilla tourism. I investigate how the Batwa’s physical displacement from the forest and its’ resources shapes their contemporary lives on the forest edge. In addition to the Batwa’s physical displacement, I argue that current global environmental policies and conservation and development interventions are further perpetuating Batwa marginalization or “displacement-in-place” (Mollett, 2014, 2015). I explore how “displacement-in-place” is manifested at multiple scales of governance by conducting research across scales.

This project includes two years of ethnographic data collection at Bwindi (2016-2018) and collaborative event ethnography at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii. I combine participant observation, oral history interviews, and elder focus groups to understand the Batwa’s historical and current interactions with conservation and related development projects. In addition, I conducted cultural mapping exercises with the Bwindi Batwa to better understand their interactions with the landscape. Finally, semi-structured interviews were conducted with local wildlife authorities, international wildlife conservation and development organizations working in the region, along with non-profit organizations focused on Batwa issues. These data are presented in three chapters that examine 1) how conservation and development reproduce inequalities and cause new forms of displacement or “displacement-in-place” and apply the concept of motility (Weig, 2015) or capacity to be mobile as an adaptive strategy on the forest edge, 2) local Indigenous experiences with global environmental governance (GEG) to shed light on structural and systemic barriers present at multiple scales of governance, and 3) examine the Batwa’s engagement with cultural tourism and integrated conservation and development projects. Drawing on data from these two field sites, I illustrate how current conservation and development interventions are insufficient to address Batwa needs at Bwindi and how GEG can fail Indigenous Peoples by not addressing recognitional dimensions of environmental justice. In addition, I present several recommendations to improve the relationship between Indigenous Peoples, conservation, and development.




History

Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Anthropology

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Melissa Remis

Additional Committee Member 2

Laura Zanotti

Additional Committee Member 3

Jennifer Johnson

Additional Committee Member 4

Kimberley Marion Suiseeya

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