Disrupting the Patrón: Unsettling Racial Geographies in Pursuit of Indigenous Environmental Justice


ACLS Fellowship Program


Latin American Studies


Disrupting the Patrón examines the politics of enforcing three Inter-American Court of Human Rights cases on Indigenous territorial claims in Paraguay’s Chaco. This multi-sited ethnography traces stories of Indigenous activists, settler colonists, and state officials to show how social-spatial relations of power form enduring racial geographies based on Indigenous dispossession. Bridging critiques of settler colonialism with critical environmental justice, the book argues that the politics of recognition are also political struggles over the control of “the environment” that reproduce forms of environmental racism that manifest as human rights abuse. From leveraging international law to embodied forms of resistance, Enxet and Sanapaná peoples rework the politics of recognition through a dialectics of disruption—strategically complying with and breaking laws to rebuild territorial relations as a form of environmental justice. The project draws from 18 months of archival, collaborative, and ethnographic research in Paraguay (around 150 interviews, participant observation, community-based mapping) between 2013-2020.