Fernando Galeana Rodriguez

Doctoral Candidate, Development SociologyCornell University

Award Information

2017 IDRF Program

Development SociologyCornell University

Precarious Rights: Recognition, Empowerment, and Abandonment in the Honduran Mosquitia

The Miskito peoples in Honduras are one of the many indigenous groups in Latin America who have recently obtained property rights over their ancestral homeland in the region of Mosquitia. Literature from post-colonial studies and critical cartography argues that the recognition of territorial rights is a form of neoliberal governance with little prospects for redressing historical inequality. However, few studies have addressed the question of how indigenous peoples actually govern in their territories after titling. This proposed dissertation research will be the first to examine how the Miskito come to conduct themselves as property owners who must negotiate rule within particular ecologies and against a multitude of actors, from government to aid agencies to non-indigenous settlers and drug-traffickers. Through semi-structured interviews, participant observation, oral histories, and discursive analysis, this research will examine the conflicts among indigenous leaders who claim to be the legitimate representatives of the Miskito, the negotiations over agro-industrial investments and infrastructure development in Mosquitia, and the pluralistic meanings ascribed to property that result from everyday interactions between indigenous and non-indigenous actors. The proposed research will inform anthropological, geographical, and sociological literatures on state-formation, critical development studies, and critical property studies by providing insights on everyday forms of territorial formation with implications for debates on recognition, property, and development in Honduras and beyond.