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3122 - Gender, environmentalism and the institutionalization of indigenous and tribal leadership in Suriname

The struggle for indigenous and ‘tribal’ (Maroon) land rights has taken on a new urgency in Suriname as the government makes forest governance reforms under international pressure. The indigenous and tribal organizations which represent indigenous interests vis-à-vis the government defend different traditional leadership models: the more hierarchical and differentiated Maroon model has influenced the indigenous system of leadership, and sedentarization together with government stipends for village ‘kapiteins’ has led to the existence of permanent chiefly status for village leaders. However, one indigenous organization, with greater exposure to international influence through the global indigenous peoples’ movement, has begun to promote the education of young leaders through a special international indigenous leadership programme, and has also begun to campaign to support the voices of ordinary women as well as female leaders. In this paper, the tensions in indigenous leadership in Suriname are analysed in relation to the politics of environmental conservation, with particular regard to REDD+ and land tenure.      

Keywords: Leadership, environmentalism, land rights, indigenous organizations, gender

Author: Brightman, Marc (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland / Schweiz)

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