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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 147-161

Territorialisation, Conservation, and Neoliberalism in the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve, Mexico

Departamento de Antropología, Universidad de las Américas Puebla, Cholula, Puebla, Mexico

Correspondence Address:
Alison Elizabeth Lee
Departamento de Antropología, Universidad de las Américas Puebla, Cholula, Puebla
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.138413

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The territorialisation of a botanical garden and the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve (TCBR) in southern Mexico is examined from the perspective of local residents of one rural town and the biologists whose professional careers involved extensive research in the region. While there were brief periods of conflict between residents and outsiders over the use of local lands for conservation, the cumulative effects demonstrate a general acceptance of the conservation paradigm. Local residents re-appropriated an older discourse linking their land rights to indigenous ancestors in order to mobilise collective support to ensure local control of the botanical garden. The discourse was subsequently incorporated into a local ecotourism project providing cultural substance complementary to the biological and visual aspects of the landscape. Contradictions between conservation and livelihoods were minimal due to neoliberal policies that encouraged migration to the United States of America and wage work in regional maquiladoras. Consequently, the territorialisation of conservation spaces was not disruptive to the increasingly proletarianised, non-agricultural livelihoods of local residents.

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