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Democracy in the WoodsEnvironmental Conservation and Social Justice in India, Tanzania, and Mexico$

Prakash Kashwan

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190637385

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190637385.001.0001

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The Politics and Political Economy of Forestland Regimes

The Politics and Political Economy of Forestland Regimes

(p.1) Chapter 1 The Politics and Political Economy of Forestland Regimes
Democracy in the Woods

Prakash Kashwan

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter develops a political economy of institutions framework, which facilitates a cross-national, inter-temporal, and cross-scale analysis of the processes and outcomes of institutional change related to the recognition of forest and land rights in the forested regions of India, Mexico, and Tanzania. It also introduces the unique features of the problem of forestland conflicts around the world, which makes it a suitable topic for a political analysis of the different ways that societies seek to resolve the apparent tensions between the goals of social justice and environmental conservation in the hinterlands. This analysis fuses together theoretical insights from the fields of comparative politics, institutional analysis, development studies, and policy studies to identify gaps that are relevant to contemporary debates about the politics and policies at the intersection of environment, economic development, and inequality—especially in the context of emerging climate change mitigation and adaptation programs.

Keywords:   political economy, institutions, property rights, political inequality, social justice, environmental conservation, comparative politics, India, Tanzania, Mexico

Social justice and environmental conservation, two of the most important issues of this day and age, are at odds in many of the world’s forested regions. In 2002 and 2003, India’s forestry agencies ran a nationwide “eviction campaign” that “cleared” 152,400 hectares of farmlands within the lands designated as state forests.1 These evictions displaced 150,000 peasant families, with Amnesty International reporting widespread human rights violations.2 In Tanzania, more recently, armed rangers from Serengeti National Park burned 114 Maasai settlements to the ground in February 2015, with the rangers arguing that the settlements were located within the park’s boundaries. While the government agencies justified their actions for the sake of advancing conservation goals, local residents in the forested regions of India and Tanzania—whose livelihoods depend on peasant farming, pastoralism, and the use of forest produce for subsistence—argue they have lived in these areas for generations.3 As serious as these incidents are, they are unfortunately not exceptions.

The forested regions that international conservation groups have designated as biodiversity hotspots are also social and political flashpoints, with (p.2) insecure land tenure, high levels of poverty, enduring power asymmetries, and histories of state control and repression.4 Worldwide, an estimated 750 million indigenous and other forest-dependent peasants claim customary and de facto land rights, which national forestry and wildlife agencies do not accept as legitimate (see Appendix I).5 These land rights conflicts often lead to violence: Global Witness reported that 908 people in 35 countries died between 2002 and 2012 because of their work on “environment and land issues.”6 Clearly, these numbers represent only a tiny fraction of fatalities linked to forestland conflicts, which occur on a routine basis in major forested countries (see Appendix II for a list of violent conflicts throughout the world).7 Additionally, land-related conflicts often have exacerbated civil conflicts in a number of countries, including the Naxalite insurgency in India, the Zapatista rebellion in Mexico, and the Rwandan genocide, among others.8 These conflicts have intensified as national forestry agencies and international conservation groups have worked to set aside large areas of land exclusively for the provision of environmental goods and services—such as wildlife and biodiversity conservation, biofuels, and forest-based carbon emission reductions.9 International support for forest and wildlife conservation programs fuel most of the demand for these new enclosures.10

The frequency and scope of these land rights conflicts, rooted in state-led defense of forests, call into question the cliché that pits long-term policy goals (such as nature conservation) against short-term electoral considerations. If incumbent governments were driven exclusively by electoral calculus, elected leaders in India and Tanzania would have sought to prevent the bloody conflicts mentioned above in order to avoid the wrath of voters. Instead, these (p.3) governments proceeded to violently enforce the colonial-era forest boundaries, which government agencies defended as being necessary for forest protection and wildlife conservation. Nationwide mobilization following these incidents forced the Indian government to enact the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006 to address land rights conflicts, even though the act remains poorly implemented.11 Across the Indian Ocean, as Tanzania’s ruling party faced its toughest-ever electoral competition from a united opposition in the 2015 presidential election, its candidate promised to redistribute land and end land conflicts.12 Since the election, however, the new government has sent mixed signals. While the Land Ministry promised to resolve land conflicts, the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources politely refused to be drawn into an ongoing legal battle between the Maasais and a U.S.-based safari company.13

Why do elected governments and political leaders often respond to the tensions between competing local and global demands regarding forestlands in a manner that contradicts expectations associated with populist politics? And what impacts do their decisions have on social justice and environmental conservation? This book’s comparative analysis of peasant land rights in the forested regions in India, Tanzania, and Mexico shows that political and economic factors are central to explaining the diverging paths of forestland rights and nature conservation regimes. The analytical logic for the choice of case study countries is explained at length in section 1.3, but one important motivation is related to a puzzling divergence over time in the nature of forestland regimes in these three countries. At the beginning of the twentieth century, peasants in these countries’ forested regions enjoyed few if any forest and land rights. Mexican peasants and indigenous people were in the worst position with regard to land access and land rights. However, peasant land rights in the country changed significantly during the next hundred years. Mexican peasants today enjoy far greater security of forest and land rights than do their counterparts in India or Tanzania. While Mexico’s agrarian revolution of 1910–1917 lent strength to peasants’ demands for land redistribution, the revolution did not predetermine the outcomes of forestland regimes in the decades to come, as Chapter 3 demonstrates.

Democracy in the Woods offers political-economic explanations for the remarkable differences in the negotiation of peasant land rights in forested regions of the three case study countries. First and foremost, it shows that (p.4) political structures that enable sustained engagement between peasant groups and ruling political parties lead to governments providing statutory protection to peasant land rights in forested regions. Drawing on research from the fields of historical institutionalism, development studies, and comparative politics, I theorize the conditions under which progressive policy reforms are likely to be enacted and effectively implemented. Indeed, the nature and extent of engagements between actors in social and political arenas is a product of the political and economic contexts within which forested territories are embedded.

This leads to the second main argument of the book, which connects the history of state-led development in the case study countries to the status of forest and land rights within their national forestland regimes. By “forestland regimes,” I mean the configuration of actors, authorities, and institutions that regulate forest and land use, as well as “the formal and informal structure and nature of political power” in forested regions.14 Contrary to the conventional understanding of conflict between environment and development, this book shows that environmental considerations and economic development may also reinforce one another. Moreover, it shows that the implications of this interaction between economic development and environmental protection for social justice hinge on the nature of political process that mediates these divergent, though not necessarily contradictory, goals.

In the postcolonial era, the imperatives of national development motivated national leaders to centralize control over hinterlands in most countries of Africa and Asia. Over time, national governments designated much of this centrally controlled land as forests and wildlife reserves to secure support from international conservation groups and multilateral agencies.15 Many postcolonial governments deployed internationally supported nature conservation programs as “development” projects, which brought new opportunities and resources to remote forested regions. While these new resources occasionally benefited forest-dependent people, in most cases, they did more to reinforce the authority, powers, and resources at the disposal of national forestry and wildlife agencies.16

Finally, I examine the outcomes of recent efforts to bring about institutional change in forestland regimes in Mexico, Tanzania, and India—efforts that underscore the importance of interactions between national politics and subnational political-economic relations. At the national level, each of these countries has introduced reforms designed to formalize peasant (p.5) land rights, and national forestry agencies have offered forest-based carbon emission reduction proposals as part of international negotiations related to climate change mitigation. These national and subnational processes present yet another set of opportunities to test the arguments set forth in this chapter which I do in Chapters 5–7.

This book’s emphasis on the political drivers of land rights of forest-dependent peasants draws attention to the highly consequential intersections of social justice and environmental conservation. The timeliness of such an approach is evident in light of the United Nations’ recently adopted 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which include a pledge to protect the rights of all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, to have “ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources.”17 Instead of exploring land rights in isolation, this book situates them within an analysis of the emergence of national forestland regimes and forest policy reforms, which are often at the center of sustainable development campaigns.

1.1 Research on Forested Regions and Forestland Conflicts

Political scientists often describe the hinterlands in developing countries as peripheral regions characterized by a missing state, or as poorly governed “brown spots.”18 But scholars of historical and comparative institutionalism, who examine colonial legacies’ impact on postcolonial institutional outcomes, argue against such characterizations.19 They argue that the unevenness of democratic governance in the hinterlands stems from “strategic logics” that serve political elites’ interests and that have important implications for environmental conservation.20 Radical environmentalists and green political theorists, meanwhile, seek to establish a rationale for the “rights of nature” or “intergeneration environmental human rights.”21 Critics argue that these attempts to promote nature conservation are often “unnecessarily and unfortunately narrow … [because they tend] to delimit political contest regarding the appropriate relation of humans to the natural world.”22 A single-minded pursuit of ecological values does not necessarily align with political values such as liberty and equality.23 These types of considerations are especially relevant (p.6) in the Global South, where the project of nature conservation is executed via the state, which is invariably infused with asymmetric distributions of social and political power.24

The question of land rights conflicts in forested regions often falls through various disciplinary gaps within academia. For example, the discourses and strategies related to “forest conservation” have deeply shaped the tradition of scholarship focused on the commons. These scholars examine how variation in institutions (specifically forest tenure) coupled with rules and norms of local collective action affect the outcomes of local forest protection and management.25 By emphasizing the agenda of forest protection and conservation, however, scholars focusing on the commons sidestep some of the most contentious issues regarding forested landscapes, such as land conflicts between forest-dependent people and government forestry agencies.26 Agrarian studies scholars who examine peasant land rights, meanwhile, do not usually study land rights in forested regions, and anthropologists who address questions of farming within forested regions examine the issue mainly from social and cultural perspectives.27 Scholars working in the tradition of historical anthropology and history of forestry engage with the politics of forestry laws and policies, broadly understood, but their goal is to illuminate debates about state-society dynamics centered on questions of forest management and forest conservation.28

One of the main groups of scholars focusing on the competing use of forests are political ecologists, who draw attention to the intimate connections between environmental conservation and social and political injustices.29 Forest policy and institutions are often geared toward centralizing control over forested landscapes, which contain minerals and other economically and strategically important natural resources. National governments also seek to control the hinterlands to ward off insurgencies at a society’s political margins.30 I build on the scholarship of political ecologists and historians to trace the history of forestry regimes in India, Tanzania, and Mexico.31 Additionally, I address an important gap in political ecology literature, which pays relatively (p.7) little attention to the domestic political processes through which subaltern groups seek to challenge unjust forestland regimes.32

Despite various gaps in existing scholarship, each type of scholarship discussed above draws attention to the role of the state in influencing the politics and the socially discriminatory outcomes of nature conservation. Because there is considerable variation in how social actors engage with the state, I develop a political economy of institutions framework to structure this inquiry into how the differences in state-society engagements shape forestland regimes and outcomes of institutional change in this arena. This framework brings together analytical tools borrowed from historical institutionalism, development studies, and political science with additional insights from the fields of environmental history and political ecology.

1.2 Theoretical Framework: Political Economy of Institutions

A framework enables a researcher to identify key variables, factors, processes, and relationships relevant to a specific inquiry.33 It helps organize inquiries that rely on different theories for explaining outcomes at a specific analytical level (micro, meso, or, macro). The political economy of institutions framework follows in the footsteps of scholars who bridge historical institutionalism with rational choice institutionalism, thereby bringing together inductive and deductive methods to complement one another.34 Institutional analysis is especially suitable for the inquiry in this book because institutions connect the past to the present, global and national processes to subnational political and economic relations, and abstract sociopolitical values to concrete outcomes that individuals care about.

The most popular definition of institutions describes them as “the rules of the game” that shape the “opportunities and constraints individuals face” in any given situation.35 Studies of institutions have been instrumental in developing theories of collective action, property rights, environmental governance, and political and economic reforms.36 On the other hand, some scholars criticize rational choice institutionalism for failing to account for historical (p.8) and political contexts and the role that social forces play in shaping institutional outcomes.37 A common thread running through these critiques of institutionalism is that this form of analysis neglects questions of power relations. Critics argue that while institutional analysis examines societal concerns that are deeply political, including competitive allocation of scarce resources via government policies and programs, it remains “distinctly apolitical.”38

The political economy of institutions framework developed here goes beyond institutional analysis’s focus on formal rules, and instead accounts for both formal and informal rules, norms, and laws that systematically influence institutional outcomes in the presence of significant differences of social and political power. The framework also accounts for popular politics and other mechanisms that are central to the articulation of popular interests in the policymaking arena.39 The processes and outcomes of past political mobilizations, as well as the impact of state welfare programs, also influence individual and group responses to the proposals for institutional change. It is necessary to formally integrate these factors into institutional analysis (as opposed to considering them as exogenous contextual factors) since they reshape the preferences, expectations, and aspirations of individuals and groups of individuals, thereby fundamentally altering social and political interactions.

The nexus of formal and informal institutions, actors, and agencies is especially relevant for studies of political institutions, as political institutions are binding in nature and empower winners of institutional battles to impose their preferences on the rest of the society.40 This is true of even the most successful democracies, but it is especially true in many developing countries.41 Politically influential actors in developing countries enjoy gatekeeping powers, which allow them to ensure selective application and enforcement of the law to serve vested interests. Such abuses of the rule of law compel marginalized groups to develop defensive adaptations—i.e., the “weapons of the weak,” informal negotiations, and clientelistic exchanges.42 Over time, marginalized groups may come to accept these defensive engagements with political elites and political institutions as the “normal” way of pursuing ends that are critical to their lives. Such “institutionalization of the informal” acts as a diffused but depressing vector of power, which can be overcome only through large-scale and sustained social and political mobilization.43 The links between (p.9) institutions and actors thus contribute to specific behavioral patterns, which in turn influence the expectations and aspirations that socially and politically marginalized groups bring to institutional arenas accessible to them.

Going beyond the dichotomies of cooperation and resistance, and the broad-stroke structural views of winners and losers based on the ideal-type expectations of the right or the left, this book examines the concrete ways in which colonial history, postcolonial developmentalist states, and popular engagements with the state shape land rights regimes within forested landscapes, which are also the prime sites of nature conservation. The discussion that follows elaborates on three specific elements of political economy of institutions framework. First, I situate political institutions as important forces in and of themselves and examine the manner in which they shape prospects for institutional change. Even so, instead of producing a structuralist narrative, I follow the state in society approach of Joel Migdal and map how social and political forces contribute to the evolution of property regimes, policies, and institutions.44 In the second part of the framework, I engage with scholarship on popular politics to theorize state-society engagements from an institutional political economy perspective. Part three develops the concept of the mechanisms of intermediation, which facilitate well-mobilized groups’ articulation of interests within the political and policy processes.

Political Institutions and the State

Formal political institutions, including constitutions and laws adopted in the immediate aftermath of successful independence movements, create a political environment conducive for promoting egalitarian social, economic, and political orders.45 Such progressive ambitions embedded in national political institutions not only motivate activists to pursue mass mobilization, they are also central to both the symbolic and legal struggles often witnessed in postcolonial societies.46 Political institutions’ transformative potential inheres as much in these institutions’ statutory authority as it does in social and political forces that drive progressive outcomes in practice.47 However, because of continued imbalances of political and economic power, most postcolonial societies have failed to realize the potential enshrined in their national constitutions.

How does one make sense of these two very distinct faces of political institutions? On the one hand, there are the promises of a constitutional (p.10) democracy, and on the other, the rough-and-tumble of everyday politics dominated by power cliques, which often frustrates the actualization of entitlements for a majority of citizens. Contemporary theorists of democracy tend to argue for strengthening the institutional fabric in developing countries to bring them on par with Western liberal democracies.48 This line of argument assumes that the imbalances of power, which make it difficult for ordinary citizens to realize their rights, will not undermine the development of robust institutions. Such assumptions are clearly misplaced. As Catherine Boone argues, the so-called “brown spots of democracy” in developing countries are not an aberration, but rather the result of the uneven distribution of social and political power within a society.49

The unevenness and Janus-faced nature of the postcolonial state partly results from the history of political institutions in developing countries. Dozens of countries in Asia and Africa secured their independence in the post–World War II era, a time when the states’ control of the commanding heights of economy enjoyed widespread support.50 One of the first proponents of state control of commanding heights was Vladimir Lenin, who advocated for the nationalization of valuable natural resources in a centralized state apparatus. Marxism-Leninism had significant sway in postcolonial societies.51 Political elites in these societies justified the state’s control over land and other natural resources by arguing that it was necessary for the successful execution of economic development projects, which were the central plank of postcolonial state-making. The institutions of centralized planning and budgeting further reinforced the authority and power of national governments and political leaders.52 State-building efforts in hinterlands are focused more on the goals of securing territorial control than on building civic infrastructure and rule of law in these regions.53

Most analyses of territorial politics focus on cases where postcolonial governments seized legal ownership of forests and pastures that had been used in common by generations of forest-dependent people.54 However, territorial politics are deeply embedded within broader political and economic struggles that vary across both space and time. In some cases, peasants and other forest-dependent groups stood up for their historical claims, and forced colonial and postcolonial states to recognize historical land tenure regimes.55 (p.11) In the postcolonial context, the governments of developing states framed their massive centralization efforts within the tropes of welfare state, which included the methods of “enumerating, regulating, and managing a population.”56 National leaders used the discourses and techniques of welfare state to signal their intent to secure the goals of redistributive justice enshrined in postcolonial constitutions.57 The nexus of postcolonial politics and territorial politics led to the “significant extension of state activity into new areas of social life.”58 The effects of this extension of the state’s reach are visible most clearly in the hinterlands, where the spatial inequalities resulting from territorial politics reinforced intricately layered social, economic, and political inequalities.59

By implication, a proper understanding of the drivers and outcomes of institutional change regarding land rights in postcolonial societies, such as the enactment of radical reforms and their often patchy implementation on the ground, requires an examination of the modes and mechanisms through which different social groups engage with political institutions at national, regional, and local levels. This part of theoretical discussion unfolds in two separate steps: (1) addressing the contingent and multifaceted nature of state-society relations via popular politics and (2) discussing the mechanisms of political intermediation.

Negotiating Institutional Landscapes via Popular Politics

In liberal democracies, periodic free and fair elections serve as the main mechanisms that constituents can use to hold elected leaders to account. The hypothesized mechanisms of electoral accountability work through means of retrospective and prospective voting. In retrospective voting, constituents reward (or punish) leaders for their past successes (or failures), while in prospective voting, constituents vote for party platforms they would like to see translated into political and policy solutions in the near future.60 However, as Partha Chatterjee argues, such a framework of democratic accountability is premised on the ideals of “individual freedoms and equal rights irrespective of distinctions of religion, race, language, or culture,” conditions that are rarely met in the Global South.61 Popular politics in most of the world takes (p.12) on more direct transactional forms and is often identified with clientelistic or patronage politics.62

Such politics are often intertwined with political and economic relations that are part of local institutional niches dominated by actors and agencies that wield de facto power and authority. These specialized local niches, such as ethnic and caste groups, networks of informal economic activity, and local patron-client relations often coexist with the relatively open spaces in the realms of the state, society, and markets. Marginalized groups use these open spaces to pursue “everyday struggles … to make a livelihood, sustain a social world and nourish a moral community of some worth and dignity.”63

This simultaneous existence of multiple spheres of political and economic activity has yet to receive the attention it deserves. Actors who engage in radical demand-making when they are part of a larger, mobilized political group may find themselves outwitted within the localized niches of their everyday lives. The political economy of institutions framework outlined in this chapter facilitates an examination of memberships in multiple and overlapping communities, which has a number of implications for how individuals and groups of individuals behave in different but related settings. Thinking of individuals as members of a community does not negate individual agency. A multiple-memberships approach provides each individual with a portfolio of bonds and relations, but it also provides a variety of resources that individuals can deploy for the advancement of their personal, familial, or group interests. In addition, political communities, which actors in state and society forge by engaging with the “functions and activities of modern governmental systems,” are central to popular politics.64

While popular politics takes shape within the “authorized processes of exercise of governmental power,” its outcomes need not be limited to the “particularlist, contingent and … arbitrary resolutions” of state-society negotiations.65 In many cases, popular politics creates opportunities for articulating demands for statutory and institutional change.66 Even so, it is equally important not to romanticize the nature and scope of individuals’ and families’ agency within (p.13) wider social, political, and economic processes. Research about indigenous peasant groups in Chiapas, a hotbed of revolutionary mobilization in Mexico, shows that peasant agency represents neither the atomized autonomous agency often assumed by economists nor the militant activist agency that indigenous rights activists project onto smallholder households.67 Similarly, Andrew Walker’s recent monograph on Thailand’s peasant politics, Marcus Kurtz’s analysis of rural politics in the context of free market democracy in Mexico and Chile, and Wendy Wolford’s monograph on Brazil’s land occupation movement all provide evidence about the varied, contingent, and purposive strategies that marginalized groups adopt to pursue their interests within domestic political structures.68

The strategic nature of electoral politics means that the outcomes of popular politics are contingent on the bargaining power that political parties, leaders, brokers, and social groups are able to leverage. It is in the interstices of the formal and informal spheres of politics and society that peasants and other marginalized groups develop a constrained and circumspect agency that gains strength over successive iterations of mobilizations.69 The next section develops the concept of structures of political intermediation to help examine the means and degrees of leverage that marginalized groups wield via popular politics.70

Political Intermediation Mechanisms

While the presence of competing interests and stakes is a universal reality, as classical works in economics and political science show, constellations of interests do not translate into aggregate social preferences that can then be translated into policy instruments.71 The task of transforming disparate social choices into political choices and policies are accomplished via what I refer to as the mechanisms of political intermediation. These mechanisms are a necessary but often ignored companion to citizens’ entitlements to civil, political, and procedural rights, which social scientists often consider to be the main determinant of access to political decision-making. Marginalized groups and their advocates often pursue several different means to represent their concerns within a political system. Some of the most important means include autonomous social (p.14) and political mobilizations, as well as seeking the support of actors and agencies with significant influence within the political system, such as political parties and leaders.

The outcomes of state-society engagements depend heavily on the type of political intermediation mechanisms that exist in a society. This section focuses on the mechanisms that are directly related to politics, such as politically engaged social movements and mobilizations linked to political parties, since institutional change often requires political and policy interventions.72 Scholarship on political corporatism serves as an entry point for this discussion.

Corporatism is “a system of interest representation” in which well-organized groups represent specific constituencies and are recognized by the state as such.73 While corporatism is a well-established idea in the field of labor politics, the concept has often been used with a “pejorative tone and implication,” especially in the context of popular sectors.74 In her analysis of German labor politics, Kathleen Thelen argues that “centralized bargaining” and the codetermination of benefit through negotiations with local arms of corporate organizations are the core elements of a corporatist representation of interests.75 When applied to constituencies with large memberships, such as labor groups or peasants, corporatist arrangements may facilitate greater participation and a fairer distribution of benefits for constituents with weak individualized bargaining power.76 Seen as such, corporatist arrangements in popular sectors could produce equalizing and democratizing effects.

Many peasant studies scholars who examine the effects of corporatism in rural and agrarian sectors tend to overemphasize the amount of control that corporatist arrangements grant to political elites. However, such control is invariably partial and the balance of power within corporatist arrangements is often contingent on political context and the strength of grassroots mobilization.77 The very fact that political elites in some developing countries have invested in setting up corporatist arrangements is indicative that the grassroots mobilization by subalterns compelled these elites to invest in corporatist arrangements that are costly to establish and maintain.78 The type of political intermediation mechanisms that emerge in any given setting thus depend on the (p.15) balance of social and political power, and are a product of a complex set of negotiations between actors and agencies that cut across the state-society divide. An explanation of how the balance of power between social actors, elected leaders, and government agencies shifts over time requires a “dynamic” framework, as Jonathan Fox shows in his work.79 As the balance of power undergoes temporary or permanent changes over time, political parties will change the way they engage with groups of socially and politically mobilized citizens.80

Cross-national analysis shows that “party system institutionalization” is highly and positively related to the representation of public interests, especially in the presence of leftist parties known for the promotion of corporatist structures.81 Recent scholarship also underlines the role popular politics and party-linked corporatist and clientelistic networks play even in seemingly technocratic policy arenas, such as privatization of service delivery and national fiscal policy.82 In addition to presenting evidence about the important role that interest group representation plays in influencing institutional and policy outcomes, analysis in the following pages also explains why differences in the strategies of dominant political parties influence state interventions related to the allocation of forested landscapes to competing usage. While it is important to retain a focus on political parties and leaders, I broaden the scope of interest group representation from party-sponsored corporatist organizations or highly structured labor union movements to include also the less structured and more diffuse mechanisms of sociopolitical intermediation.

Links between actors and agencies, which bring complementary sets of skills and political resources to the table, are critical to the successful pursuit and realization of progressive political and institutional reforms. A variety of organized groups—including federations of community organizations; social, cultural, and political movements; and networks of nongovernmental organizations—could serve as aggregators and organizers of group interests, as long as they engage with political and policy-making processes. The nature and effectiveness of representation relies on two main factors: first, the strategic contingencies of a political system, which create incentives for different political actors to compete for the privilege of representing hitherto marginalized social interests, and second, the presence of mechanisms of political intermediation that enable representation of interests at national, subnational, and local levels.83

A key difference between this book and previous work by policy scientists is the multifaceted nature of political intermediation proposed here. Policy (p.16) scientists often refer to a “policy niche” or “institutional niche,” which facilitates collaboration among leaders of popular movements, political entrepreneurs, and supportive policy-makers to seek institutional change.84 However, the actualization of entitlements and policy reforms through national policy-making arenas is often hampered by the entrenched power imbalances within local institutional niches discussed above.85 Accordingly, the successful realization of institutional change on the ground requires local political mobilization and active mediation of policy implementation processes.86 Such political intermediation mechanisms, which ensure the effective realization of marginalized groups’ rights, are more likely when elected leaders and ruling parties are faced with strong political competition and have incentives to mobilize local political and state machinery for effective policy implementation. Additionally, this kind of political intermediation is more likely when the ruling party has strong grassroots cadres or can collaborate with socially and politically mobilized nonparty groups that can supply the grassroots cadres needed for effective implementation. The institutional and political contexts of the Global South make it impractical to expect that the poor or racial minorities will benefit from reforms based on a rule of law approach, as such successes are rare even in advanced democracies.87

To conclude, the political economy of institutions framework recognizes the historical legacies of colonialism and postcolonial developmentalist state. These legacies shaped the baseline institutions—in this study, national forestland regimes—but the evolution of institutions over time cannot be understood without accounting for the political mediation of competing interests and the stakes of key social and political actors. The political intermediation mechanisms that a society develops over time influence the outcomes of institutional negotiation within the political and policy-making processes. To account for frequent implementation failures, I analyze the linkages between the intermediation mechanisms at the national level (which are instrumental to legal and statutory policy change) from, and the intermediation mechanisms at subnational levels (which influence policy implementation).

1.3 Forestland Regimes in India, Tanzania, and Mexico

Forested landscapes may seem like unlikely sites for bitter political and economic struggles, as they conjure up images of lush green landscapes teeming with charismatic carnivores and majestic flora. However, as the (p.17) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) explains, for many governments in the Global South, “forest” is primarily a legal category applied to large areas of land that may or may not be wooded.88 For example, the Ministry of Environment and Forests in India defines forest as “an area owned by the Government, notified or recorded as forests in any government records.”89 Researchers have reported a similar process of arbitrary forest expansion in Thailand and explain this as a product of “methodological artifact.”90 Administrative or legal definitions of forests have their roots in the colonial history of India, Tanzania, and most other countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.91 Colonial governments’ multiple interests—related to state-making, maintenance of rule of law, and ensuring a smooth supply of timber to meet their empire’s material needs—led to state control of forestlands.92

By the first decade of the twentieth century, colonial administrations of India and Tanzania had set aside as state forests and wildlife reserves large areas of land that rural residents had used previously for subsistence, including farming and pasturing. Mexico’s colonial history differed on this account. For reasons I discuss in Chapter 2, Spanish colonial rulers did not establish forestry or wildlife reserves in colonial Mexico. In this case, conquistadors usurped large areas of previously common lands, leading to the creation of Mexico’s infamous landed estates called haciendas. This trend of land concentration continued after independence. Under Porfiriato, the regime of President Porfirio Díaz in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Mexico witnessed extreme concentration of land in the hands of selected elites and land survey companies. The effects of the Porfiriato-era landlessness and poverty persisted in the years and decades to come, including in the early years after the conclusion of Mexican revolution in 1920. The German socialist writer B. Traven, who visited some lumber camps in Chiapas during 1920s, found that “the abuse of [indigenous] workers, often shanghaied from their villages, reached deadly extremes.”93 Environmental historians have documented similar stories about indigenous groups in India and Tanzania.94

(p.18) At the beginning of the twentieth century, indigenous and other forest-dependent people in these three countries exercised very little control over lands, forests, and other natural resources they had either lived on or utilized for generations. By 2010, however, rural residents living in the forested regions of these countries experienced remarkable divergences in the security of land rights. Land rights of forest-dependent groups, including agropastoralists, remain insecure in India and Tanzania, although India has made progress in recent years. In Mexico, on the other hand, peasants’ land rights are far more secure, with the exception of southern regions of the country that have experienced ongoing armed conflicts.95

In each case, the status of peasant land rights in forested regions reflects a specific balance of social justice and environmental conservation. In India, the area of land classified as state forests went up from 40.48 million hectares in 1950–51 to 70.01 million hectares in 2010–2011 (See Table 3.1, p. 58 in Chapter 3). Nearly 6 percent of the country has been set aside as national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Forest and wildlife preservation, as well as the acquisition of land by central and state governments for large development projects, have led to the displacement of a large number of Adivasis, a term used to describe nearly 600 of India’s indigenous groups.96 Of the 21.3 million people displaced by India’s development and forestry projects between 1951 and 1990, more than 40 percent were Adivasis, who constitute a mere 8 percent of India’s total population.97 The Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006, which recognizes households’ rights to farmlands and homesteads that had been included erroneously within the areas set aside as state forests, has been implemented poorly. By May 2015, nine years after the law came into force, while 1.6 million land rights certificates titles had been approved, more than 2.6 million land claims had been rejected or remain unresolved.98 In a number of instances, forestry agencies continued to dispossess peasants from land they are entitled to own under the FRA.99 These outcomes are surprising not only on ethical and legal grounds, but also because of the impact they may have on India’s internal security problems. Violations of the FRA are likely to fuel further discontent against the Indian government and increase support for the armed Naxal Rebellion in the country’s forested regions, one of the problems the FRA was designed to help resolve.100 While proponents of exclusionary conservation might defend removing Adivasis from (p.19) their land in the interest of promoting environmental goals, this argument is premised on the negation of a crucial part of the FRA, which recognizes the rights of village assemblies, acting under the statutory authority of local governments, to protect and manage their forests collectively. National forestry agencies have opposed these types of locally controlled conservation regimes, even though emerging evidence suggests that local conservation initiatives of the type FRA recognizes have been fairly successful.101

Tanzania—which has one of the world’s largest total areas of territory under protected areas (PAs), equivalent to 32 percent of national territory—continues to displace indigenous pastoralists and peasant groups from their ancestral homelands.102 Overall, forestry and wildlife agencies claim jurisdiction over nearly 40 percent of Tanzania’s total landmass; however, as I discuss in Chapter 3, an equally valid interpretation of Tanzania’s laws places much of this land under the control of the country’s village councils.103 More importantly, even if Tanzania’s local governance laws vest authority over forestlands in the hands of locally elected village councils, the competing claims of forestry and wildlife agencies, backed by the coercive authority of the state, undermine local governments’ authority and legitimacy.104 Such contestations interfere with Tanzania’s much publicized forestry decentralization programs promoting village land use planning, community forest management, and apportionment of income and other benefits from the lucrative business of wildlife tourism.105

Mexico’s land redistributions between the 1930s and 1970s placed half of the country’s agricultural land and between 60 to 70 percent of country’s forests under the control of organized peasant groups called ejidos and comunidades, both of which I refer to as “agrarian communities.”106 This more egalitarian distribution of a country’s forestlands has come under numerous assaults over the past century, but as the evidence presented in Chapters 3 and 4 show, Mexico’s peasant groups and their supporters have defended their rights actively through a combination of social mobilization and political advocacy. Though scholars tend to focus on certain constraints Mexico’s agrarian laws place on the exercise of household land rights, these constraints seem burdensome only in comparison to a benchmark of freehold private property rights. In practice, compared with forest-dependent people elsewhere, Mexican peasants enjoy far greater (p.20) security of land rights. For example, despite 11 percent of Mexico’s territory being declared as nature protected areas (NPAs), the country has seen few cases of displacements and evictions.107 Agrarian communities continue to exercise land rights in 95 percent of lands set aside as NPAs.108Table 1.1 summarizes the key features of forestland regimes in the three countries.

How Else Do These Countries Compare?

The stark differences in the history of independence struggles and the status of democracy in India, Mexico, and Tanzania may raise questions about their selection as case studies. Mexico’s freedom struggle (and its agrarian revolution in the first two decades of the twentieth century) took the form of violent guerilla campaigns, while in India and Tanzania, nationalist parties spearheaded largely peaceful freedom struggles. These differences in colonial and postcolonial history significantly influenced not only the nature of forestland regimes under discussion in this book, but also the constitution of social and political orders in these societies. First, instead of assuming them away, these differences are part of the analysis in this book. Second, as Chapter 3 shows, an agrarian revolution by itself was not sufficient to trigger large-scale redistribution of forests and forestland to rural communities in Mexico. Instead, Mexico’s forestland redistribution resulted from the ongoing power struggle between a relatively well-mobilized, emancipated peasantry and the competing sections of political and economic elite. On the other hand, despite the prominent role agrarian and forestry conflicts played in India and Tanzania’s freedom struggles, forest-dependent people in these two countries did not realize the benefits of independence.

India, Mexico, and Tanzania also share some common political and economic characteristics. All three countries share the history of the developmentalist era in which the state shaped societies in profound ways. Although these influences were far from deterministic, political elites in each of these countries professed support for socialist policies.109 These policies were implemented through local political machines led by the dominant political parties— the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI, referred to in English as the Institutional Revolutionary Party) in Mexico, the Congress Party in India, and the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) in Tanzania. The existence of dominant parties often gives rise to similar types of political-economic (p.21) (p.22) networks that link party leaders to local notables.110 As comparative politics scholars show, the success of dominant parties in the electoral arena often depends on effective clientelistic networks, which facilitate the direct exchange of material incentives in return for continued support from electoral constituencies.111 The three case study countries also have similar records regarding the core democratic concern of protecting political and civil rights. The Freedom House index, one of the most prominent measures of such rights, rates India as “free,” while both Mexico and Tanzania are rated as “partially free.” In addition, all three countries have exactly the same Freedom House score for civil liberties.112

Table 1.1 Forestland Regimes and Forest-dependent People in Case Study Countries

Forested area (km2)

Percent of national territory under forests

Percent of national land under territorial authority of government forestry agencies

Number of forest-dependent people (in millions)

Protected areas (percentage of national wterritory, 2010)

REDD+3 funding (millions of U.S. dollars)

Carbon stored in community forests (millions of tons)8















$93.56 ($46.5 disbursed)








$773.5($43.5 disbursed)6


(1) This includes the forests under India’s decentralized forest management, which does not devolve substantive management or territorial rights (Sundar 2001).

(2) MoEF (2013, 28): “There are more than 300 million forest dependent people … deriving their livelihood and substantial part of their income from forests.”

(3) REDD refers to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. A detailed discussion follows in Chapter 7. Voluntary REDD+ Database; based on data submitted by members of the REDD+ partnership to the database. Available at http://reddplusdatabase.org/. Last accessed December 12, 2014.

(5) Projections based on Felix 2015.

(6) REDDX –Tracking Forest Finance database. Available at http://reddx.forest-trends.org/. Last accessed December 10, 2014.

While there are major differences in the level of economic development in these three countries, these differences narrow down significantly when the forested regions in each of these countries are compared. Researchers at the University of Oxford’s Program on Multidimensional Poverty (MDP) report that the level of poverty among indigenous people in India and Mexico is significantly higher than the level for the rest of their respective populations. In fact, poverty among indigenous people in these two countries is identical to levels in sub-Saharan Africa, which includes Tanzania.113 Mexico’s data require a little elaboration. While Mexico is far richer on the whole than India and Tanzania, disaggregated data show a different picture. According to the MDP data from Mexico’s National Council for Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL), 33.78 percent of indigenous people live in “extreme poverty”—a percentage that goes up to 76.44 percent if one includes the percentage of indigenous people living under conditions of moderate poverty.114 Mexico’s peasant and indigenous populations are much poorer compared with the general population, and with regard to key socioeconomic indicators, they are closer to indigenous and forest-dependent people in the other two case study countries than they are to their middle-class compatriots.

Broadly speaking, the socioeconomic and political contexts of the forested regions in the case study countries are far less distinct than national-level statistics suggest. Even so, the goal is to contextualize the outcomes of interest to this study while accounting for specific features of historical and contemporary contexts. Taken together, the three case study countries represent the range of forestland conflicts and their most-often cited solutions, and demonstrate theoretically relevant variation with regard to key outcomes and explanatory factors. These features of research design allow for a contingent generalization of the study’s findings.

(p.23) 1.4 Research Approach and Methods

This book explores puzzling divergences and variations in forestland regimes through a theoretically informed comparative analysis. Analysis of variation in land rights within forested regions, amid competing claims of forestry and wildlife agencies, speaks to the larger issue of the tension between the goals of social justice and environmental conservation. Because peasant land rights are often considered “illegal” according to government records, an examination of land rights in forested regions demands a departure from the well-established methods of formal institutional analysis.

The framework outlined above relies on power-oriented institutional analysis, which helps guide an empirical inquiry into a set of politically salient and policy-relevant research questions. This framework helps draw “logically interconnected sets of propositions from which empirical uniformities can be derived.”115 Such an approach is well-suited to address questions that are often referred to as “wicked problems,” which cannot be reduced to “optimal solutions.”116 A political and economic analysis of institutions focuses on the interface between the historical legacies attached to specific institutions, the effects of such legacies on contemporary political struggles, and the extent to which participants in these struggles engage with political processes to secure their preferred institutional reforms. In this vein, this book examines three different, but interrelated, institutional outcomes: (1) the divergences in forestland regimes because of colonial and postcolonial developmentalist-era legacies (macro/political economy outcomes); (2) the effects of subnational political mobilization on the demand for and supply of progressive institutional reforms, and their implementation in practice (meso/popular politics outcomes); and (3) the divergences in the national-level policies driven by international efforts related to forest-based climate change mitigation and the implications of these policies for the goals of social justice and environmental conservation (international/policy outcomes). A multilevel inquiry of this type, which spans across temporal and political-administrative boundaries, creates multiple opportunities for the triangulation of research findings related to a limited number of cases.117 As such, it enables a systematic inquiry into hypotheses drawn from a carefully constructed theoretical framework.

Methodologically, I rely on a combination of contextualized comparative analysis, institutional ethnography, and policy analysis to examine historical and contemporary political processes. Political institutions, coupled with the agency of key actors, jointly shape institutional outcomes.118 A significant (p.24) part of this study is based on a decade and a half of research in India (2000–2015), including twenty-four months of intensive field research and data collection from 2008 to 2013. The research in India also included more than 250 interviews with government officials, elected leaders, and activists in Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. To supplement the primary data, this book relies on two different types of secondary sources. First, I have culled data about the international scope of the problems regarding conflict-ridden forestland regimes from peer-reviewed scholarly research and publications from international agencies and think tanks. Second, I have traced the evolution of policymaking processes in India, Tanzania, and Mexico through policy documents, news reports, and published research.

The subnational analyses in Chapters 5 and 6 are situated in specific regions with distinctive sociopolitical and economic characteristics. For instance, much of this book’s subnational qualitative evidence from India was collected from the state of Gujarat, which is counted among the more developed states in the country. At the same time, however, Gujarat’s adivasi areas, including purvi patti (the Eastern belt) where my field sites were located, count among the poorest areas in the country.119 In addition, Gujarat’s adivasi areas are closer economically to other states with large populations of Adivasis— Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Orissa—than they are to non-adivasi areas within the state of Gujarat.120 In Mexico, I focus on forestland issues in the central highlands region with very few examples drawn from states such as Oaxaca, which has exceptionally strong community forestry institutions, and Chiapas, which is known for exceptionally strong political mobilization.121 By not relying on findings from these two states, which are truly exceptional on key variables of interest to this study, this book maintains a focus on the less exceptional and more ordinary settings of Mexico’s central highlands.122 In Tanzania, the study’s findings are based mainly on the north and northeastern highlands. Each of these regions in the case study countries is known for conflicts or contestation over questions of forest and land rights, even though they vary in geographic and climatic features.

The book’s qualitative analysis of the subnational-level politics related to forestland conflicts relies on the tools of political ethnography.123 A political ethnographer seeks to solicit insiders’ perspectives by practicing a “deeper (p.25) sensitivity to actors’ subjectivity and to social intersubjectivity.”124 He or she also examines how specific local experiences and intersubjectivities are related to forces and processes that connect actors, agencies, and institutions across multiple social and political arenas.125 In this sense, political ethnography employed in this book is inherently multi-sited as it “cross-cut[s]‌ dichotomies such as the ‘local’ and the ‘global.’126 During my field research in India, I sought to uncover the meanings that individuals and groups of individuals, including elected leaders, attached to institutions relevant to their lives and livelihoods, while also examining how these multifaceted understandings of institutions shaped the processes and outcomes of institutional change.

As Edward Schatz argues, political ethnography entails a “creative tension” between the particularizing impulse of ethnography and the willingness of political inquiry to “bracket aspects of what we see, to simplify for analytic coherence, and to seek to produce generalizations.”127 Such an approach helps examine how political entrepreneurs deploy the power of symbols and ideas to achieve the improbable, as has happened in the political discourses over forestland regimes in Mexico, India, and Tanzania.128 The method of multi-sited political ethnography employed in this book is especially useful for analyzing institutional change, which is often a result of the ways in which the formal and informal domains of institutions, agency, and politics intersect.129 The evidence I use in this context emerged from interviews and participant observations in India and immersion and interaction with published ethnographic research from Tanzania and Mexico.

This book’s reliance on secondary data creates the risk that important aspects of my case studies’ historical and political contexts, which have shaped outcomes at national and subnational levels, are not accounted for properly. However, such risks are more likely in cases when authors take the context for granted, or seek to bracket it by choosing a set of cases they consider to be “most similar.” Such risks are minimized in this book through a transparent analysis of the specific features of the historical and contemporary political contexts and their effects on observable outcomes in the three case study countries.130 The theoretical framework outlined above—which accounts for (p.26) the contingent effects of social, economic, and political factors—enables the researcher to avoid known errors of interpretation and makes the research output “auditable.”131 Finally, I consulted nearly a dozen scholars and policy experts working in Mexico and Tanzania, whose names are mentioned as part of the acknowledgments, to ensure that this book’s analyses of these cases do not run afoul of contextual factors specific to these countries.

1.5 The Plan of the Book and Structure of the Key Arguments

The book is divided into three interrelated parts, each of which addresses research questions at a specific level of analysis. Part I addresses the origins of and divergent changes in forestland regimes in the study countries. Part II analyzes the politics of institutional changes in forestland regimes in these three cases. These analyses yield insights about how the assertions of peasant land rights are embedded in significantly different understandings of state authority in the realm of land relations. Part III applies the broad argument about the political economy of institutions to the contemporary forestry policies and draws implications for the debates about the intersections of social justice and environmental conservation. The sequence of key arguments is summarized in Table 1.2 and discussed below.

The next two chapters (Part I) analyze the origins and divergences of national forestland regimes in in India, Tanzania, and Mexico. While Chapter 2 focuses on analyzing the institutional legacies of colonialism, Chapter 3 analyzes how post-independence economic development efforts shaped the emergence of forestland regimes. Chapter 4 shows that the differences in the political intermediation mechanisms in the case study countries influence the extent to which a country’s forestland regimes reflect the interests of forest-dependent groups. Part II, which comprises Chapters 5 and 6, analyzes the counterintuitive outcomes of contemporary interventions related to institutional change in forestland rights. Chapter 5 focuses on the politics of the enactment and implementation of India’s Forest Rights Act, while Chapter 6 analyzes the outcomes of formalization of land rights in Tanzania and Mexico. In all three cases, the actual outcomes of reform implementation differed from the outcomes that both the proponents and the detractors of these reforms had predicted. The contradictions between expectations and outcomes point to theoretical gaps in our understanding of institutional change, which this book attempts to address. The two chapters in Part III apply the framework of political (p.27) (p.28) economy of institutions to offer critical scrutiny of contemporary debates on environmental policy and politics. Chapter 7 analyzes how the national-level political-economic context and the structures of domestic policymaking institutions affect the translation of international policy interventions related to forest-based climate change mitigation into national policy proposals.

Table 1.2 Structure of the Arguments


Colonial Legacy


Party-Constitutent Links

Divergences in the Outcomes of Institution Reforms

Policy Divergences

Key dimensions of forestland regimes

Forestry administration

Forestry agencies’ territorial authority

Effects of national development on forestland regimes

Status of land reform in forested regions

Nature of corporatist arrangements

Bargaining power of peasant groups

Legal recognition of land rights

The nature of peasant engagement

Inter-bureau checks and balances

Participation of forest-dependent groups

Benefit -sharing arrangements in REDD+





Not pursued

Fragmented and unorganized; Controlled by regional elites


Yes, but opposed by forestry agencies

Significant but defensive


Very low

Tactically framed, but aggressive equivocation






Unified with few grassroots organizations; strongly controlled by top party leaders.


Yes, but practically discouraged by the state

Weak; reforms expensive and undermined by red tape









Extensive with numerous grassroots organizations; elite capture, but checked because of inter-elite competition


Yes, implemented effectively

Extensive and confident engagement



Unequivocal recognition of carbon rights

The concluding chapter deploys the findings reported in previous chapters to offer critical reflections about the debates regarding political mediation of the equally valued goals of social justice and environmental conservation. It examines how the supposedly neutral concept of “property rights” is applied very differently in policy contexts that favor industries than in ones that favor socially and politically marginalized forest-dependent people. Lastly, Chapter 8 also reflects on the potential for extending this line of inquiry to make interregional comparisons beyond this book’s theoretical focus on environmental policy and politics and its geographic focus on India, Tanzania, and Mexico. A key argument is that the two important goals of social justice and environmental conservation are often in conflict because of the manner in which state actors—political elites and government officials—seek to exploit forestry and wildlife conservation programs to secure political and economic goals that they value.132 Such outcomes are a product of the skewed balance of power in society, a conclusion that speaks to the core concerns of Marxist political economy scholarship. Marxist political economists argue that the forces of capitalism feed on primitive accumulation, a concept that has been expanded recently to show how conservation programs foster primitive accumulation.133 Others go beyond the Marxist focus on the exploitation of labor as the main source of primitive accumulation; they argue that contemporary capitalism also leads to accumulation by way of dispossessing peasants from means of production.134 While the conventional argument is that the dispossessed masses would be integrated at the margins of capitalism, Kalyan Sanyal argues that the job of mitigating the adverse consequences of capitalism falls back on the state. To put this in the context of the political economy of institutions framework deployed in this book, even though political institutions do not necessarily protect peasants against dispossession, Sanyal would argue that a state interested in maintaining its legitimacy attempts to rectify the excesses of capitalism after the fact.135 However, several recent works of (p.29) scholarship show that instead of merely reacting to the aftereffects of neoliberal economic models imposed from above, legislatures in Latin America and elsewhere proactively negotiated the form and pace of economic reforms.136 This scholarship suggests that postcolonial states are not only the passive recipients of external influences, but also that their political institutions actively reshape the forces of capitalism as they travel to the margins of the global economy.137

This book integrates the two political economy perspectives described above. It shows that the twin agendas of environmental protection and economic development, often pitted in opposition to one another, evolve in a relationship of mutual reinforcement. Moreover, the net effects of such reinforcement are contingent on the structures of intermediation in domestic politics. Such structures provide political spaces in which elites and mass constituencies engage in battles that are partially discursive and partially political-economic in nature. The global community recognizes these contentions, as evident in the recognition of land rights as part of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted recently by the United Nations’ General Assembly.138 Even more importantly, the text of the UN resolution makes it clear that the recognition of land rights is embedded within the broader agenda of sustainable development, which confronts us with the challenges of continuing to think critically about the relationship between the agendas of environmental protection, economic development, and social justice. (p.30)


(2.) Other reports suggested that the evictions affected 168,000 families. See T.K. Rajalakshmi, “Fatwa raj is over: Interview with Brinda Karat, CPI(M) leader and Member of the Rajya Sabha,” Frontline, Volume 23—Issue 26 Dec. 30, 2006-Jan. 12, 2007. http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2326/stories/20070112003201100.htm; “Forced evictions target adivasi,” Amnesty International Australia, April 27, 2007, http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/1160/.

(4.) Brechin et al. 2002, p. 42, emphasis added.

(5.) Seven hundred and fifty million is a conservative estimate by the author based on various reports, including a new report by environmental journalist Fred Pearce, which cites several sources to suggest that “up to 2.5 billion people depend on indigenous and community lands” (Pearce 2016, 7).

(6.) Global Witness 2014. The reference in the first part of the sentence is to the noted book Violent Environments, Peluso and Watts 2001.

(7.) Van Hoyweghen 1999; Alston et al. 2000. For nuanced discussions of land rights violations as one of the root causes of the Marikana mines conflict in South Africa, which led to the death of 44 miners in a police shooting, see Tropp 2003; Malaika wa Azania, “Marikana is actually about ‘stolen’ land.” The Sunday Independent, July 5, 2015.

(10.) Delegates from 193 countries assembled at the tenth meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity held in October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, resolved to bring 17 percent of global landmass under protected areas by 2020. See Convention on Biological Diversity, “TARGET 11—Technical Rationale extended (provided in document COP/10/INF/12/Rev.1),” http://www.cbd.int/sp/targets/rationale/target-11/.

(11.) For discussions of FRA’s implementation failures, see NCFRA 2010; Kashwan 2013; Lélé and Menon 2014; Menon and Bijoy 2014; Kumar et al. 2015.

(12.) Anon., “Tanzania ruling party candidate promises to redistribute unused land, says tycoons are hoarding,” Mail & Guardian Africa¸ September 3, 2015, http://mgafrica.com/article/2015-09-06-tanzania-ruling-party-candidate-promises-to-redistribute-unused-land.

(13.) Katy Migiro, “Maasai locked in Tanzania legal battle with US safari firm, land conflicts grow,” Thomson Reuters Foundation. November 11, 2015.

(16.) The title of a recent doctoral dissertation—“Wildlife is Our Oil”—aptly summarizes this aspect of international conservation. See Sachedina 2008.

(17.) United Nations General Assembly 2015, 15.

(19.) Mahoney 2000, 507; also see Pierson 2000.

(20.) Boone 2012, 629.

(26.) For such critiques of the commons scholarship, see Peluso 1992; Dove 1993; Johnson 2004; Ribot et al. 2006; Larson and Ribot 2007.

(27.) Exceptions include Sikor 2006b.

(29.) Colchester 1994; Baviskar 1994, 1995; Peluso and Vandergeest 2001. For a legal perspective on the problem, see C. Singh 1986; Pathak 1994.

(31.) Prominent works by historians and historical anthropologies include Neumann 1997, 2001; Rangarajan 1996a; Sivaramakrishnan 1999; Sunseri 2005.

(38.) Mulé 1999, 149.

(39.) In this book, I follow Partha Chatterjee’s use of the phrase “popular politics” to refer to mass engagement with formal politics, including electoral politics, while excluding communitarian and neo-traditionalist populism. See Chatterjee 2011.

(45.) See Randeria 2006 for an analysis of progressive statutes related to affirmative action included in the Indian Constitution.

(53.) Boone 2012, 629.

(57.) Chatterjee 1993, 2004; Scott 1998.

(58.) Meadowcroft 2005, 7; Neumann 1995, 2001. Much of the research on territorial politics focuses on the contested relations between national and regional identities and insurgencies. Cf. Jeffery 2008.

(60.) For detailed commentaries about the limitations of these models, see O’Donnell 1998; Przeworski et al. 1999; Kitschelt and Wilkinson 2007.

(65.) Chatterjee 2012, 306–308. This has been a point of major contention among the scholars of popular politics. A particularly provocative formulation suggests, “Chatterjee deems impossible” the negotiation and movement between “a ‘politics by stealth’ and a ‘politics of rights’ …” (Bénit-Gbaffou and Oldfield 2014, 283, emphasis added by this author).

(70.) This formulation is inspired by Patrick Heller’s research on “degrees of democracy.” See Heller 2000, 2001, 2009.

(72.) See Heller 2001, 2009; Newell and Wheeler 2006; Heller et al. 2007; Eisenstadt 2003, 2011. In the “polity model” proposed by Charles Tilly, social movements-political party links are crucial to the movement’s success. See Tilly 1978; Jenkins 1983.

(76.) For a similar approach used to examine the political effects of globalization, see Hellwig 2015.

(79.) Fox 2005; 2007.

(80.) For detailed discussions of political theories of representation, see Przeworski et al. 1999; cf. Ribot 2004.

(89.) In recent years, the Supreme Court of India has sought to redefine forests to their “dictionary meaning,” but those attempts have been contested by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (Lélé 2007). For a similar discussion in the contexts of Vietnam, see Sikor (2006a, 623); for the Philippines, see Waggener (2001, 8); for Cameroon, see Assembe-Mvondo et al. 2014.

(91.) For an analysis of the issue in Thailand, see Hirsch 1990; For Indonesia, see Fay et al. 2000; Fay and Sirait 2002; for a comparative study of Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, see Fay and Michon 2005; and for an examination of similar land conflicts in Zimbabwe, see Matose 1997.

(98.) Abhijit Mohanty, “Forest Rights Act: Issues and Constraints,” June 20, 2016. http://www.adivasiresurgence.com/forest-rights-act-issues-constraints/.

(99.) Kumar et al. 2015; Read 2015; Ecologist, “India: ‘Jungle Book’ tribes illegally evicted from tiger reserve,” January 14, 2015. http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2713128/india_jungle_book_tribes_illegally_evicted_from_tiger_reserve.html.

(102.) Data on terrestrial protected areas (percent of total land area) based on the World Development Indicators 2014; Neumann 2001.

(103.) Stevens et al. (2014, 19) use this interpretation of the law to suggest that 63 percent of Tanzania’s forests are “community forests,” which the government recognizes as such.

(106.) Bray (2013) suggests 60 percent, while Stevens et al. (2014) suggests this figure is 71 percent. Other authors point to the gaps in the data maintained by the National Agrarian Registry. They argue that the percentage of forests owned by agrarian communities is greater than 80 percent (Merino-Perez 2013, 26).

(107.) Scholars of conservation-related displacements have often pointed to an absence of displacements in Latin America. However, no systematic explanations are available for this regional pattern. See Brockington and Igoe 2006; Igoe 2005; West et al. 2006.

(108.) An understanding of the differences in the strength of land rights that local residents hold in these countries requires a more detailed analysis, which is offered in the introduction to Part II.

(109.) Kohli 1987, 2016.

(113.) Hasan Suroor, “Media Hype and the Reality of “New” India,” The Hindu, July 20, 2010, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/interview/article523817.ece.

(118.) Statistical analysis of village level forestland claims in India, included in Appendix V, supplements the qualitative analysis presented in Chapter 6.

(121.) For an insightful study comparing indigenous mobilization in these two states, see Eisenstadt 2003.

(122.) As Peter Wilshusen points out in a book review, the problems of representativeness can occur even in studies that focus on specific regions within a country (Wilshusen 2012).

(124.) Schatz 2009: 203.

(127.) Schatz 2009, 306.

(130.) For relevant conversations within political science about “analytical transparency” and “process transparency,” see Andrew Moravcsik, “One Norm, Two Standards: Realizing Transparency in Qualitative Political Science,” The Political Methodologist. January 1, 2015, http://thepoliticalmethodologist.com/2015/01/01/one-norm-two-standards-realizing-transparency-in-qualitative-political-science/.

(132.) Consider, for instance, the demand by forest officials in central India that they be given authority to “shoot-at-sight” to control villagers agitating about increasing instances of tiger attacks in the villages adjoining tiger reserves. See Times News Network, “Foresters want powers to shoot violent villagers,” August 2015. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/Foresters-want-powers-to-shoot-violent-villagers/articleshow/48650795.cms.