Indigenizing Development: State Formation and Indigenous Self-Determination in the Honduran Moskitia


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Development Sociology


Around the world, indigenous peoples struggle to maintain territorial control over their homelands amidst rising interest in land and natural resources. This ethnographic research project explores how the Miskitu in Honduras mobilize property discourses to assert territorial control in the region of Moskitia. Based on 20 months of fieldwork, this dissertation traces how efforts to indigenize land access and resource management within newly titled indigenous jurisdictions intersect with markets and state bureaucracies transforming the ways in which communities pursue livelihoods, experience cultural difference, and conceive authority. This project demonstrates that the legal recognition of property rights over indigenous lands does not lead to greater control for indigenous peoples, but rather creates inter-dependency among the indigenous leadership, the state, and aid agencies. More broadly, this research contributes to our understanding of how communities negotiate the material and symbolic reproduction of the state in frontier regions and spur the formation of new socio-spatial orders.