Collective responses to state-led displacement and relocation projects : lessons learned from Beleninos river communities




Gorenstein, Sharon

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Most social sciences scholarship on the relationship between environmental issues and forced displacement on poor communities in Latin America, and particularly in Peru, explores the risk recognized as evident by all involved actors; however, in this study, it is the state that is producing a perception of risk by attempting to forcibly displace the residents of a community adjacent to the Belen river in the Peruvian Amazon. This research focuses on the perceptions of the residents, ex-residents and the institutions involved in the process of displacement. Thus, the central themes of this thesis seek to answer the following questions: how poor people respond to government initiatives of displacement and relocation based on their local knowledge of risk assessment? How they perceive risk? What are their subjective and material worldviews of space? And how they understand their decision to either stay or leave Bajo Belen? This study demonstrates that the government’s risk assessment policies resulted from the reorganization and simplification of nature by the Peruvian government to suit developers’ and public and private institutions’ goals, instead of leveraging on the local know-how as the basis for the design of public policies.


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