The politics of indigenous self-determination
: Extractive industries, state policies and territorial rights in the Peruvian Amazon

  • Roger Merino Acuña

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis offers an investigation of the indigenous politics of self-determination in the Peruvian Amazon. The starting point of the analysis is the ‘Baguazo’, a massive indigenous protest (June 2009) against governmental laws that favoured extractive industries within indigenous territories. Studies of indigenous peoples’ opposition to extractive industries in Peru have tended to focus on the economic, political or social aspects as if these were discrete dimensions of the conflict. This thesis aims to contribute with an integral and systematic understanding of indigenous resistance to extractive industries through a case study analysis and a multidisciplinary theoretical proposal. The thesis contains 9 chapters: introduction (Chapter 1); theoretical framework (Chapters 2, 3 and 4); methodology (Chapter 5); case study analysis and discussion (Chapters 6, 7, and 8); and conclusion (Chapter 9). The theoretical chapters explain how liberal legality recognises indigenous peoples as ethnic minorities with property entitlements, while self-determination goes a step further to recognise indigenous peoples as ‘nations’ with ‘territorial rights’. The case study chapters explore the struggle of the Awajun indigenous people for self-determination and examine the legal and political consequences of the Baguazo as well as the re-emergence of indigenous politics in Peru.The main argument provided in this thesis is that indigenous territorial defence against extractive industries expresses a politics of self-determination that confronts coloniality as the foundation of the extractive governance. Coloniality denotes that, even though colonial rule ended in formal political terms, power remains distributed according to colonial ontology and epistemology. Consequently, social and economic relationships regarding indigenous peoples still respond to an inclusion/exclusion paradox: indigenous peoples are either excluded from liberal capitalism or included into it under conditions that deny indigenous peoples’ principles. Thus, the struggle for self-determination locates many indigenous people beyond the inclusion/exclusion dialectic and promotes an extension of ‘the political’ with the aim of reconfiguring the state-form and its political economy.
Date of Award22 Mar 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorAna Cecilia Dinerstein (Supervisor)


  • indigenous rights
  • extractive industries

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