Isabelle Tritsch

PhD defended on may, 27st 2013.

Land use change and evolution of indigenous agricultural system: a study of the Wayãpi indigenous community of French Guiana and Brazil.

Indigenous territories comprise extensive areas of tropical forest and hold significant social and conservation value. Today, they are subject to various constraints and opportunities, and face many territorial transformations. These transformations are complex and multifaceted. They involve the adoption of new production and consumption modes, the modification of forms of social organisation and identity and territorial claims. However, the links between these on-going processes are still poorly understood, and make difficult to appreciate the adaptation dynamics of indigenous common natural resources management.
This thesis is particularly concerned with the territorial dynamics of the Wayãpi and Teko indigenous people of the municipality of Camopi in French Guiana. It integrates methods that include land use analysis using remotely sensed data, socio-economic and agricultural systems analysis at the household scale, and empirical analysis on the influence of identity claims, kinship networks, and conservation policies. It shows that despite the residential settlement around local towns, the growth of cash income from wage labour and welfare, associated with strong kinship networks, allows the revival of mobility and the diversification of indigenous territorialities. Environmental policies implemented on the territory involve processes of identity and territorial claims and motivate the construction of a collective project of endogenous local development. A comparative approach with the situation of the wayãpi people living in Brazil and evolving in a completely different institutional, socio-economic and environmental context shows similar dynamics. Indigenous peoples of these two sites adopt multi-local land use systems, allowing them to extend their territory occupation and taking part of a broader dynamic of territorial and identity affirmation. They articulate forest and local town environments. This multi-local land use system can be interpreted as a new form of environmental governance, which overcomes the access difficulties to natural resources around local towns and ensures their sovereignty over the territory.

Keywords: Indigenous Territory, common resources management, conservation policies, environmental governance, identity and territorial claims, French Guiana.

PhD Directors

Bernard Thibaut, CNRS.

Richard Pasquis, Cirad.

FSE Guyane {PNG}Union Européenne {PNG}

Cette thèse a été cofinancée par l’Union Européenne.

View online : Download the Thesis

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