Convenors:Kirk Endicott, Dartmouth College; Yogeswaran Subramaniam, University of Malaya
Abstract: Mobile foragers are especially disadvantaged because governments generally consider only sedentary people worthy of legal rights to the areas they inhabit. We invite studies and analyses of conflicts between the concepts of rights to land and resources held by mobile foragers and those of national governments and their legal systems.
Keywords: land rights, resource rights, mobility, legal challenges
Format: standard panel
Precirculated materials: none required
Although land rights problems are common to many Indigenous communities, these issues are arguably more pronounced in the case of mobile foragers for a number of reasons, including:
fundamental property and land law concepts adopted both internationally and domestically—such as "occupation," "exclusivity," and "alienability"—are skewed towards a settled lifestyle, the market economy, and the commodification of land and its fruits;
prejudiced views on societal progress and the scale of social organisation see mobile foragers as at the lowest stage of development and in need of “civilising,” including removal from their traditional areas;
formal land and resource administration laws, a reflection of state policies and priorities for state sovereignty and land and resources use, are mostly at odds with the legal recognition of large areas, which are needed for the survival and self-determination of mobile foragers.
This session builds on case studies of legal problems faced by mobile foragers in negotiating the space between law and justice like those described in CHAGS XI, notably in the session entitled “Hunter-Gatherers and the Law.” In this session we hope to examine and learn from the sources of conflict between the philosophies, beliefs, and assumptions regarding rights to land and resources held by mobile foragers and those of national governments and their legal systems. One practical goal is to discern promising arguments for land, resource, or territorial rights claims by mobile foragers, perhaps drawing on recent international and domestic developments that suggest that the connections mobile foragers have with their respective areas and resources can be recognised as legally enforceable rights.
We welcome case studies, comparative studies, and general analyses.
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