Monday, February 16, 2015

Do Indigenous People Have Boundaries?

Participatory cartography is particularly useful for management of indigenous lands, which makes it more equal. Most post-colonial mapping/bordering is often unstable, but indigenous countermappings can create maps and borders more true to what the indigenous peoples themselves consider correct. The study here concerns Pemon lands in Gran Sabana, southern Venezuela. A Gramscian approach to hegemony is taken in regards to boundary making. It is more of a cultural project concerned with inequalities rooted in class and ethnicity, more than anything. The Pemon people face discipline to become "modern," such as having their practices referred to as "traditional" if they are risky, conservation-wise. Thus it is difficult to practice certain kinds of fire use and hunting. Much of Gran Sabana is located inside a national park. There an agency called EDELCA handles fire fighting. This study had fire fighters make their own maps in a workshop and they saw the landscape as pocked with fire scars, much unlike what the Pemon themselves saw. Ethnocartography was put into practice with the Pemon: all different ages groups and genders were studied and each group was able to create their own maps. It was found that teenagers created different maps than those made by their elders. What was the difference? Apparently the teens saw their lands as smaller. In conclusion, the notion that indigenous people don't have any boundaries is a myth.

Bjorn Sletto (2009): "'Indigenous people don't have boundaries': reborderings, fire management, and productions of authenticities in indigenous landscapes." Cultural Geographies 16: 253-277.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Are there any specific arguments we can pin point as the reason for different land perspective among age groups? If so, how were they determined?

  3. What role does the level of government have on this and rather the lack of order and increase of "freedom"