Current Project

An Ecology of Legal Knowledges: Learning (with) the Kawsak Sacha from a Legal Anthropology Perspective

The Kichwa People of Sarayaku launched a declaration appealing to grant legal personhood to the Kawsak Sacha (Living Forest), located in their territory, in the Pastaza Province. I address in my research the process of translating a human-forest-relationship (Sacha Runa) into a state law legal framework and contrast this declaration with the rights of Nature recognized in the Constitution.  Building upon an interdisciplinary dialogue between law and anthropology, my methodology includes a legal cartography of the Kawsak Sacha declaration and fieldwork consisting of different stages of collaborative multi-species ethnography. To illustrate the Kichwa People of Sarayaku relationship with the heterogeneously entangled worlds in the Kawsak Sacha and the diverse use of the territory, I am doing a combination of creative methodologies and pursue an engaged anthropology.

I have selected this case study to examine how ecological data based on a specific environmental construction of a forest may influence the policy shaping legal structures and to fill with content the controversial and still abstract recognition of the rights of Nature. In line with this, it is my intention to reflect on the practical implications of the legal recognition, the potential risks, and possible consequences for the Kichwa People of Sarayaku when a (changing) relationship with a territory is to be integrated into a “western” legal framework.

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