Indigenous Peoples, National Parks, and Protected Areas: A New Paradigm Linking Conservation, Culture, and Rights

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Author: Paul Sillitoe
Date: Aug. 2015
From: Mountain Research and Development(Vol. 35, Issue 3)
Publisher: International Mountain Society
Document Type: Book review
Length: 1,262 words
Lexile Measure: 1600L

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Indigenous Peoples, National Parks, and Protected Areas: A New Paradigm Linking Conservation, Culture, and Rights Edited by Stan Stevens. Tucson, AZ: Arizona University Press, 2014. xii + 380 pp. US$ 39.95. ISBN 978-08165-3091-5.

Arguments about the extent to which conservation schemes should involve local people are long-running. They are contentious, involving controversial claims to knowledge about the natural environment and complex political issues around demands for disputed rights. This book is a recent contribution to the debate that promises a "new paradigm" or fundamental change in approach. It comprises 2 introductory chapters by the editor, followed by 9 case study chapters that focus on conservation issues in particular regions, and concludes with a chapter, again by the editor, that summarizes the "new paradigm." As is the case with most edited volumes, readers are unlikely to read the book from cover to cover but will rather pick off those chapters that deal with issues and regions of particular interest to them. The chapters that are most likely to attract the interest of this journal's readers are those that focus on mountain regions and associated conservation issues.

The first of these is Chapter 4, which concerns the rugged national parks of Southeast Alaska, home to the Tlingit people. They occur in the Northwest Coast cultural region famous in the anthropological literature for the potlatch exchange institution (the koo.eex "giving" in Tlingit), which features reciprocal ceremonial feasts and transactions of possessions between clans to validate relations and status. Thomas Thornton alights upon the recently popular idea of "inalienable possessions" --advanced by the French social philosopher Marcel Mauss, drawing partly on the potlatch ethnography --which suggests that when persons give things they maintain some inalienable spiritual connection to them that prompts the receiver to reciprocate. Thornton argues that the Tlingit have a similar attitude to natural resource exploitation, and he suggests that this might fruitfully be extended to conservation...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A432893784