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Adjudicating Culture, Politicizing Law:
Legal Strategies for Black and Indigenous Land Rights Struggles in the Americas

The University of Texas at Austin
April 28–29

Overarching Themes

  1. What have been the predominant strategies for making land claims? Which strategies have been successful in various domestic, interregional, and international forums in asserting land or resource claims?
  2. When people ground their demands for rights in assertions of cultural difference, what notion(s) of culture come to the fore? Do legal claims and processes favor certain notions of culture while discouraging or even delegitimating others?
  3. If there is a predominant, favored language of culture (and identity) in legal processes, what broader consequences tend to follow for the political struggles in question? Are there assumptions or premises built into these efforts to "adjudicate culture" that reinforce hierarchies, exclusions, or patterns of inequality?
  4. What is the relationship between the current (and expanding) mode of culture-based legal struggle, and ascendant strategies of neo liberal governance? To what extent can popular organizations use these legal strategies without adopting the full range of premises embedded in legal notions of rights, culture, and identity?