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The Local Articulation of Policy Conflict: Land Use, Environment, and Amerindian Rights in Eastern Amazonia

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The Brazilian government has promoted development in Amazonia for over forty years. Nevertheless, improvement of rural conditions has been limited. Although tropical deforestation has been the premier concern in discussions about Amazonia, this article focuses instead on the human dimensions of development and the apparent failings of social policy in the region. In so doing, the article argues that what we observe today represents the consequence of conflicting development strategies, brought about by shifting national priorities that were influenced, in part, by international pressures. The article makes this argument by first presenting an overview of development strategies pursued since the mid-twentieth century, followed by a description of shifting national priorities linked to pressures from the international community regarding indigenous rights and environmental concern. Finally, this article presents a GIS-based case study focused on the state of ParĂ¡, demonstrating the spatial articulation of contradictory policies and showing the overlap and conflict between competing interests. These spaces of conflict are supported by actual accounts of disputes at the local level.

Keywords: Amazonian development; GIS and remote sensing; environmental policy; indigenous rights; land conflict

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Central Michigan University

Publication date: May 1, 2002


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