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Research Project D9 - Exchange Relationships and Collective Use of Resources in Culturally Heterogeneous Areas: Latin American Frontiers, 1880 to 1910

Principal Investigator:
Jan 01, 2006 — Dec 31, 2017

The research project D9 comparatively analyzes exchange relations and modes of collective use of resources that the ruling elites in Latin America deployed to economically include indigenous groups around 1900. For our case studies we selected the regions of Sonora (Mexico), Araucania (Chile), and the Upper Xingú (Brazil) where the project focuses on reciprocal and trust-based mechanisms of governance of state, non-state, and indigenous actors. In this context, we analyze the adoption or repression of indigenous knowledge and the consequences of the applied forms of governance in regard to their environmental and social compatibility.

After the military repression of regional indigenous groups in the second half of the 19th century, which we researched during the previous funding period of the SFB 700, aspects of security policy became less important for the ruling elites of Latin America. Instead, the question arose how to use the new reclaimed lands and their natural resources and integrate them into regional, national, and international economy. The indigenous peoples could not and should not have been ignored in this process but were to take an active role as workers, trading partners, or reliable informants for particular natural resources of the widely unknown territories. The research project investigates the exchange relations that took place on local level, such as the organization of collective use of resource in cooperation with the indigenous groups. The project also explores conflicts and solutions which were arising in this context.

In our case studies on this topic, the chosen time frame (approx. 1880-1910) has been overshadowed by and to some degree ignored due to the nationally significant developments that were succeeding that time. In Chile, the 100th anniversary of independence in 1910 marks the beginning of a new era characterized by a sense of crisis and reorientation. Regarding Mexico and Brazil, historians mainly focused on the revolution and respectively the founding of the Servicio de Proteccão dos Ìndios (both in 1910) and the preceding decades were (ethno-) historiographically labeled as evolutionary history. In contrast, our research project intentionally assumes a historical path dependency and analyzes the period around the turn of the century in the respective research areas as post conflict scenarios.

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