Accepted paper:

Of Indigenous Peoples, Nationals and Cosmopolitans: Indigenous Communities Resisting Pressures from Land Grabbing, Exploitation of Natural Resources and Drug Trafficking in Northwestern Colombia

Authors:

Stefan Khittel (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

I shall argue that the strategy of choice for indigenous peoples to resist the territorial encroachments of national as well as international actors upon their territories in Northwestern Colombia is to become players in the national and international arenas.

Paper long abstract:

Northwestern Colombia has had a long history of indigenous peoples resisting the conquest by Spanish, Scottish and other European Nations. Despite the foundation of the first Spanish town on the continent (Santa Maria la Antigua) it took four centuries to incorporate the territories firmly into the newly independent nations (first Colombia then also Panama). Within the Colombian context it was there, where indigenous peoples were successfully (re-)gaining titles on their traditional land from the 1970s on. Some twenty years later the Afrocolombian population started to also receive land titles as a native people there, similarly as the Indigenous communities, but backed only by a special law for them, not by the constitution. Whereas the Indigenous communities have remained in a stronger legal position than their native Afrocolombian counterparts, from the 1980s on the real danger of dispossession came rather from other sources such as non-state armed groups, the military presence, international enterprises interested in natural resources or land grabbing mainly by national capital, sometimes in collusion with the armed groups (mainly paramiltary forces). For this paper I shall argue that the strategy to resist the territorial encroachments of national as well as international actors upon their land is to become players in the national and international arenas, to become also Colombian nationals as well as cosmopolitans. The indigenous peoples' presence in both arenas is not new, although the bare necessity to fulfil the triple act of indigenous, Colombian and cosmopolitan generates an even greater challenge for the indigenous communities.

panel P065
(Post-)colonial settling and native staying: indigeneity and land rights in the Americas [law net]