Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ecological Legitimacy

Laura Pulido discusses cultural essentialism as having assumptions about indigenous groups and “third world” communities thus leading to negative assumptions of these people based on pre-conceived connotations made by what she refers to as “officialdom”.
The relationship between the Hispanos in northern New Mexico and the United States government is used as the case study about ecological legitimacy and essentialism. This area was originally inhabited by Pueblo Indians until Spanish conquistadors and mestizo settlers began to settle the region. Hispanos lived in the area and their communities were based on collective ownership over the land. After the United States gained control of the region in 1848, they did not recognize communal land ownership, thus leading to the commodification of the land, this in turn increased resource consumption. All of this lead to the economic downfall of the Hispano people, and although there were some attempts for development projects, rarely did they address the loss of the Hispano land. All the development within the region focused on changing the individual while ignoring the original thriving rural economy, which was relatively self-sufficient.

Laura Pulida attempts to shed light on the misinterpretation of ecological legitimacy among traditionalistic poor populations. She uses the case of the Hispanos in New Mexico and their communal land tenure and once becoming commodified lacking very little if any means of subsistence. Pulido points towards the misinterpretation and negative bias towards traditional cultures inability to properly and sustainably tend to the land in an environmentally friendly way. While these people have successfully grazed and persisted on these lands since the late 17th century, once commodified, and government control of the land took over, the Hispano people lost their traditional way of subsistence. Are now being blammed for their poverty while the government is failed to be seen for its actions.

1 comment:

  1. It is sad to know that tribes need to legitimize with their means of nature even though they are perfectly capable of ensuring and providing for themselves. I don't believe that money is the only way we can do something to help the environment. Hospano's who provide for themselves believe that nature needs to be utilized so nothing is wasted. When cultural, economical, and ecological processes are used to provide this viability, these strategies screw over these tribes.