Remaking Places, Contesting Claims: Property, Identity, and Forests in Northern New Mexico

EPA Grant Number: U915233
Title: Remaking Places, Contesting Claims: Property, Identity, and Forests in Northern New Mexico
Investigators: Kosek, Jon G.
Institution: University of California - Berkeley
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: January 1, 1997 through January 1, 2000
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1997) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Sociology , Academic Fellowships , Environmental Justice


The objective of this research project is to explore how the national or global political economic changes combine with local histories and social relations in northern New Mexico to reformulate the directions of, and opportunities for, community forestry in that region and beyond. This research project will focus on the following questions:

1. How are current configurations of property rights linked to the history of conflict over forest resources in and around Carson National Forest?

2. How are place-based identities such as "local" and "native" being reconfigured to create or deny opportunities for Hispanic communities to claim and utilize forest resources?

3. How do representations of forest resources by contending groups (such as community members, environmentalists, and Forest Service officials) reinforce and/or undermine local access and control of those resources?


This research will occur over a 14-month period. I will conduct fieldwork for 12 months in the community of Truchas, which is adjacent to Carson National Forest. I will spend 2 intermittent months investigating national and regional archives, hoping to create a dialogue between archival material and community members. During the months of fieldwork, I will use a combination of techniques to explore my research questions, including household surveys, structured and semi-structured interviews, participatory mapping, participant observation, and oral histories. By focusing on interacting scales of analysis and by combining historical, socio-economic, and ethnographic data, I will explore how changing definitions of property, shifting place-based identities, and contradictory representations of forest resources alter the ways in which communities use and access forest resources.

This research project will be guided by Participatory Action Research (PAR), which arose out of critiques of traditional research approaches that impose preformulated, researcher-driven agendas. PAR redefines the researcher/subject relationship from one of extraction to one of mutual development and benefit (Chambers, 1992; Freire, 1990).

This research project will build on the work that I have conducted as a predissertation fellow with the community members of Las Truchas. I hope to further develop the contacts and trust gained over the course of the summer with people from local nongovernment organizations, community groups, government agencies, and academics.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, community forestry, northern New Mexico, Carson National Forest, political and economic changes, property rights, forest resources, Hispanic communities.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1997
  • 1998
  • Final