Elias Plata

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Buffalo, State U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10532

Approve Date

April 6, 2023

Project Title

Plata, Elias (New York, Buffalo, State U. of) "The Politics of Encounter in the Refuge Forest: Community, State, and Market Integration in the Sierra Tarahumara of Mexico"

Forests have acquired great relevance in environmental governance, becoming key objects of anthropological research for analyzing the political encounter between statecraft, market dynamics, and community social organization. I propose that understanding the current tensions around forests requires connecting sustainability concerns with the people’s historical struggle to maintain control over territories. This study analyzes tensions that emerge from the implementation of sustainability projects in indigenous and peasant communities in the Sierra Tarahumara, Mexico. I situate such tensions as part of a historical dynamic shaping the community’s changing relationships and struggles with institutions and markets. I argue that forests have been used either as extractive spaces for the consolidation of state projects or as refuges for the establishment of community life projects. However, this historical dynamic could be changing as neoliberal policies promote greater market integration, affecting the articulation of refuge spaces. Using ethnographic and documentary analysis, I investigate how the implementation of sustainability programs in Raramuri and Mestizo villages has resulted in novel forms of political organization and valuation of the environment. I seek to contribute to a thorough understanding of neoliberal environmental governance’s implications for the reproduction of community life projects and the creation of environmental relations.