This dissertation investigates the intersection between environmental conservation and livelihoods of small-scale producers. Conservation territories have been expanding into coastal-marine environments because of processes across scales, and with this expansion is a dominant trend of community-based conservation with dual goals of protecting livelihoods and biodiversity. The Brazilian, extractive reserve (RESEX) is such a model, increasingly being established in coastal-marine environments with ambiguous outcomes. This dissertation specifically investigates RESEX governance and livelihood production; namely the institutional, material, and discursive practices of RESEX actors by applying qualitative and quantitative methods; and adapting governance assemblage and livelihoods analytics through a political ecology lens. The case of the Cassurubá RESEX in eastern Brazil is presented here and demonstrates contradictions between the RESEX instrument, and its operationalization and outcomes. The Cassurubá RESEX was established as a politicized battle between environmentalists and politicians, and resource users were pawns in the territorial game. New institutions for fisheries and land-use undermine the livelihood strategies of resource users, producing adverse effects. The abstraction of resource users as RESEX “beneficiaries,” who can access RESEX benefits, disembodies them of their culturally embedded livelihoods rendering them artifacts of the RESEX. The focus on ‘beneficiaries” veils processes of power and the specific effects of the RESEX; land has been appropriated for conservation; resource users are being accounted for as they have a new relationship with the state; and their livelihoods are being reconstituted through the RESEX instrument. These findings lead to several conclusions: RESEX are territorial instruments of control over people, resources, and relationships in a geographic space; “beneficiaries” are an “imaginary collective subject” produced by government actors that renders the appropriation of land, and expansion of bureaucratic state power, invisible; and more normatively, conservation and development agendas must consider the differential livelihood strategies of resource users or efforts will be undermined. The case of the Cassurubá RESEX illustrates how discursive and territorial practices of RESEX produce differentiated impacts on livelihood strategies among affected resource users. The findings also demonstrate that environmental governance and livelihoods cannot be treated as discrete elements in investigations of conservation instruments with goals of protecting livelihoods.
- Brannstrom, Christian Professor and Associate Dean