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The state effects of a state-led payment for ecosystem services scheme in Amazonian indigenous communities

Biffi Isla, Valeria (2021) The state effects of a state-led payment for ecosystem services scheme in Amazonian indigenous communities. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004410


This thesis is concerned with the reconfiguration of the state-indigeneity relationship through the implementation of a state-led payment for ecosystem services (PES) scheme in the Peruvian Amazon. As a case study, I examine the implementation of the National Programme for the Conservation of Forests (NPCF) within seven indigenous communities in Peru. This initiative provides conditional economic incentives to the communities for the conservation of Amazonian forests. My primary research is ethnographic, focused on the ordinary exchanges that take place on a daily basis between state bureaucrats and indigenous peoples. Despite the conservation aims, the NPCF also generates social and political impacts within communities. The new administrative responsibilities of indigenous authorities strengthen their sense of agency to access new state resources and funds. Likewise, state bureaucrats, in their efforts to make state-led PES scheme goals legible for their indigenous audience, adapt and ignore formal policy content, operating as brokers to demonstrate the accountability of the economic incentives, even if that means diverting attention away from conservation issues. Economic incentives are framed by indigenous peoples as rewards and favours, producing contrasting forms of articulation with the state. Communities create an alternative interpretation of forest conservation as an asset that attracts development opportunities from external sources, including the state. Moreover, the main effect of state-led PES schemes is the bureaucratisation of the communities as a form of mediation with the state; that is to say, indigenous communities recognise that bureaucracy is, for them, a technique of citizenship and development. Indeed, for indigenous communities, bureaucratic skills allow them to become legible public policy users, able to exercise their citizenship at the margins. The common thread in this dissertation is the quotidian relevance of everyday bureaucratic procedures for accountability in a state-led PES scheme. Although NPCF administrative duties imply a heavy burden for indigenous communal leaders, they have embraced them to reconfigure their relationship with the state.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2021 Valeria Biffi Isla
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Mason, Michael

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