Environmental degradation has directly affected the sociocultural dynamics of hunting and gathering societies, ranging from outright obliteration of communities to more subtle but long-lasting social organisational changes resulting from relocation and resettlement. Documented examples of hunter-gatherer resistance include deliberate retreat and isolation, “false compliance” (in James Scott’s sense) with state-sponsored projects and demands, and direct action such as logging blockades. However, the range of effective actions available to hunter-gatherers may be limited. Often, action comes long after the damage is done and lands are already appropriated and irreversibly transformed.
Successful resistance almost demands that hunter-gatherers make strategic alliances with NGOs and other civil society groups. Recent decades have seen numerous examples of pre-emptive initiatives undertaken by hunter-gatherers working with researchers and scientists, and/or civil society groups (for example, through citizen science projects or community-led afforestation programmes to establish use-rights). What are examples of alliances that also protect environmental quality in hunter-gatherer territories? Are they able to build capacity in ways that preserve or strengthen hunter-gatherer autonomies, and how? In this session, we look for examples of successful and unsuccessful networks and their origins and long-term effects, and, as well, the strategies, frameworks and mechanisms of involvement deployed by interest groups that not only “build capacity” in project-speak, but leave communities qualitatively better off.
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