Anticolonial landscapes : land and the emergence of Miskitu people's territorial resistance in the Moskitia



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This dissertation investigates the Miskitu people's understanding of land and the natural environment in the Moskitia region of Nicaragua, rooted in indigenous worldviews and shaped by historical and ongoing colonial influences. Central to this exploration is the notion of Yapti Tasba (Mother Earth), a critical component of the indigenous knowledge framework that inspires a communal understanding of land ownership. Using a blend of ethnographic and archival research, the study examines Miskitu perspectives on land and the natural environment, the effects of colonialism and racial structures on these perspectives, and the significance of centering these views in Miskitu territorial struggles, transcending traditional legal paradigms. The investigation is guided by three key questions: how are territorial rights and indigenous identity influenced by specific understandings of land and the natural environment? How do these understandings contribute to life sustenance in the community and, how are gendered forms of knowledge manifested in everyday ecological practices related to Yapti Tasba? This dissertation proposes that despite external pressures reshaping Miskitu people's interactions with their land, their core beliefs are still grounded in traditional values and meanings linked to their landscape, predating colonial impositions. Furthermore, it highlights the unique nature of Miskitu People’s resistance, which is deeply tied to their land, serving as a cornerstone for survival and differentiating from conventional notions of indigenous activism and social mobilization. The insights garnered from this research contribute to the broader discourse on indigenous land relations and environmental stewardship worldwide.


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