Final MS-A Thesis Defense, Natalia Ocampo Diaz - April 27

April 27, 2017 3:00PM - 4:00PM

Natural Resources RM 320

Exploring institutional change after decentralization: the case of Afro-Colombian Collective Territories

Master’s Thesis Proposal Defense


Natalia Ocampo Díaz

Thursday, April 27, 2017

3:00 pm

Room 320, Natural Resources Building


Decentralization of natural resource governance became popular worldwide by the mid-80s. In Latin America, decentralization included the formal recognition of the rights of historically-settled ethnic communities, under the grant of collective land property rights. Colombia was the first nation to concede collective land titles to black communities –or Afro-Colombians- mainly settled in the Pacific Region, an area historically marginalized from the rest of the country, with high rates of illiteracy and child mortality, and low levels of infrastructure and public services. Paradoxically, the region comprises some of the most diverse tropical rainforests in the world, with alluvial gold deposits in its rivers. Timber extraction and gold mining (both legal and illegal) have been the main drivers of landscape transformation and social conflict in this area. For acquiring the collective title, Afro-Colombians were required to create Community Councils (CCs), an organizational entity for the exercise of authority over the land, as well as to design, implement and enforce rules for resource management. In this research, I will investigate how have the collective property rights conceded by the government influenced the institutional arrangements for the management of the natural resources in these territories. Through a case study, I will look at the effects that a constitutional rule (decentralization of management) has had on the collective-choice and operational rules for the management of three specific resources: fish, gold, and timber. By learning what formal and informal rules are shared and followed by different resource-user groups, and tracing the origin of these rules (i.e. whether they emerged before or after decentralization), we can better assess the effect that decentralization has had in natural resource management at the local level. With a dual methodological approach, including qualitative –in depth interviews and focus groups-, and semi-quantitative –mental modelling workshops- methods for data collection, I will test how different approaches perform in studying institutional change.

Committee Members:

  • Dr. Maria Claudia Lopez, Chairperson 
  • Dr. Patricia Norris
  • Dr. Steven Gray
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