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Extramural Research

Grantee Research Project Results

Grantee Research Project Results

Agrarian Reform and Environmental Management in Developing Countries: Indigenous Territorial Rights and Land Management in Amazonian Bolivia

EPA Grant Number: U915952
Title: Agrarian Reform and Environmental Management in Developing Countries: Indigenous Territorial Rights and Land Management in Amazonian Bolivia
Investigators: Padwe, Jonathan E.
Institution: Yale University
EPA Project Officer: Jones, Brandon
Project Period: January 1, 2001 through January 1, 2004
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2001)
Research Category: Fellowship - Social Sciences , Academic Fellowships , Economics and Decision Sciences



My research concerns ethnic minorities and rights to natural resources. The objective of this research project is to demonstrate the environmental and social consequences of new regimes of land rights established in response to identity-based social movements. My research addresses the question of agrarian reform and the creation of communally owned indigenous territories in Bolivia. Protests, marches, and demonstrations by lowland indigenous groups in Bolivia over the past several years have contributed to the creation of a new agrarian reform law, which will allocate more than 15 million hectares of land as "original community lands" under the control of indigenous peoples' organizations. My research questions who benefits when rights to land and natural resources are awarded on the basis of ethnicity. Additionally, I hope to question the nature of the rights awarded under the new laws and to identify the institutions and procedures that can contribute to successful management of newly titled lands.


I am combining library research on indigenous movements with participant-observation techniques and key informant interviews. I spent May to August of 2000 in Bolivia researching the indigenous peoples’ movement and participating in a series of meetings between representatives of the movement and representatives of the Bolivian government. I also visited the proposed Itonama Original Communal Land and interviewed members of the Itonama indigenous people, including representatives of the Itonama Sub-Central Organization. My research project describes the indigenous peoples’ movement in detail, discusses agrarian reform, and demonstrates how perceptions of indigenous identity vary from the local, regional, and national level. I will determine what the implications are for rural people when rights to land and natural resources are achieved based on claims of environmental stewardship and on idealized perceptions of indigenous identity.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, agrarian reform, environmental management, developing countries, land management, Bolivia, ethnic minorities, natural resources, land rights, indigenous territories, indigenous territorial rights.

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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