CfP POLLEN22: Indigenous Self-Determination vis-à-vis Conservation and Climate Action

Session organizers:

Deborah Delgado1, Ana Watson2, Conny Davidsen2

1Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru

2University of Calgar


Despite growing international calls and strong evidence of their crucial roles, indigenous and local communities are still struggling to have a voice and impact in environmental governance to secure their livelihoods and territories vis-à-vis growing exploitation, violence, state neglect, and projected impacts of climate change. At the 2021 World Parks Congress, Amazonian indigenous peoples’ organizations championed the motion to protect 80% of the Amazon Forest. Similarly, at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, indigenous leaders made their case to protect not only their forests, but also recognize their rights to make decisions over territory and be key agents for climate action. While asking for conservation, their claim revolves around the protection of their territory and their rights to self-determination. This panel invites case studies considering the 7 socio-cultural regions recognized by the UN (Africa; the Arctic; Asia; Central and South America and the Caribbean; Eastern Europe, Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia; North America; and the Pacific). We look for work that examine the impacts of climate change action and conservation policies on indigenous livelihoods and territorial rights.

Typically, the politics forest conservation and biodiversity movements has paid attention to charismatic species and remote pristine areas (Pascual et al. 2021). Political ecology literature has illustrated the risks of symbolic and material displacement vis-a-vis rising neoliberal conservation practices that impose human-centered market logics, for example in Africa (Fletcher 2010; Büscher 2013; Brockington, Duffy, and Igoe 2008; Fletcher 2017; Devine and Baca 2020). Thus, suggesting the powerful interests and values of forest conservation that could contrast with indigenous rights. On the other side, Latin America decolonial scholars demonstrate the integrated nature of the decolonial and environmental agenda of indigenous people confronting the western values and extractive developmentalist projects towards their recognition (Quijano 2007; Matos Mar et al. 2016; Leff 2004; Mignolo 2011; Walsh 2007; Rodríguez and Inturias 2018). However, Latin America has been influenced by a set of different historical conjunctions that differs from the colonial-style conservation deployed in Africa and Asia. A comprehensive analysis of the various dynamics between climate and conservation practices along the lines of indigenous autonomy and self-governance projects, gender and race is still missing.

We welcome presentations that offer explorations on the power dynamics at the junction of environmental policies, conservation, collective rights and livelihoods in the global tropics, particularly as conservation narratives in the global tropics can vary greatly.

Potential contributions may focus on, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Implications of inequality and (de)colonial practices in conservation
  • Self-determination and knowledge production
  • Indigenous self-governance at the interplay of the environmental and health crisis
  • Neoliberal conservation and indigenous action amidst illegal economies
  • Gender and its political implications for, indigenous autonomies and forest conservation
  • Power relations on conservation practices involving peasant and indigenous communities, NGOs, state institutions and / or international organizations.

Keywords (maximum 6 keywords): Indigenous self-determination, autonomy, forest, conservation, climate action

We invite contributions from academic researchers, practitioners and activists from the Global South and North. If you are interested in contributing to the session, please send a title and

an abstract (max. 250 words) and your affiliation to by December 12th.


Brockington, Dan, Rosaleen Duffy, and Jim Igoe. 2008. Nature Unbound: Conservation, Capitalism and the Future of Protected Areas. London: Earthscan.

Büscher, Bram. 2013. Frontiers of Conservation. Transforming the Fronteir: Peace Parks and the Politics of Neoliberal Conservation in Southern Africa. Durham: Duke University Press.

Devine, Jennifer A., and Jenny A. Baca. 2020. “The Political Forest in the Era of Green Neoliberalism.” Antipode 52 (4): 911–27.

Fletcher, Robert. 2010. “Neoliberal Environmentality: Towards a Poststructuralist Political Ecology of the Conservation Debate.” Conservation and Society 8 (3): 171.

———. 2017. “Environmentality Unbound: Multiple Governmentalities in Environmental Politics.” Geoforum 85 (June): 311–15.

Leff, Enrique. 2004. “Racionalidad Ambiental y Diálogo de Saberes. Significancia y Sentido En La Construcción de Un FuturoSustentable.” POLIS 7: 1–35.

Matos Mar, Jose, Julio Cotler, Fernando Fuenzalida, Augusto Salazar Bondy, Heraclio Bonilla, Karen Spalding, Gustavo Gutierrez, et al. 2016. Antología Del PensamientoCríticoPeruano Contemporáneo. Edited by Martin Tanaka. Buenos Aires: CLACSO.

Mignolo, Walter D. 2011. “Epistemic Disobedience and the Decolonial Option: A Manifesto.” Transmodernity Fall: 44–66.

Pascual, Unai, William M. Adams, Sandra Díaz, SharachchandraLele, Georgina M. Mace, and Esther Turnhout. 2021. “Biodiversity and the Challenge of Pluralism.” Nature Sustainability 4 (7): 567–72.

Quijano, Aníbal. 2007. “Coloniality and Modernity/Rationality.” Cultural Studies 21 (2–3): 168–78.

Rodríguez, Iokiñe, and Mirna Liz Inturias. 2018. “Conflict Transformation in Indigenous Peoples’ Territories: Doing Environmental Justice with a ‘Decolonial Turn.’” Development Studies Research 5 (1): 90–105.

Walsh, Catherine. 2007. “Interculturalidad y Colonialidad Del Poder. Un Pensamiento y Posicionamiento ‘Otro’ Desde La Diferenciacolonial.” In El Giro Decolonial. Reflexiones Para Una DiversidadEpistémica Más Allá Del Capitalismo Global., edited by Santiago Castro-Gómez and Ramón Grosfoguel, 47–62. Bogotá: Siglo del Hombre Editores; Universidad Central, Instituto de EstudiosSocialesContemporáneos y Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Instituto Pensar.

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