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Valuing Mountains While Protecting the Rights of Mountain Communities: Tensions in Tajikistan

Authors: Kramer Gillin*, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Topics: Mountain Environments, Cultural and Political Ecology, Eurasia
Keywords: mountains, Tajikistan, land rights
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

It’s hard to say where the edge of any given mountain is located. What is clear, however, is that the importance or value of mountains is felt by communities far beyond its reaches in many different ways: as a source of water and other natural resources, a national or regional symbol, or a place of recreation, to name just a few. Mountain communities must contend with the ways that outside populations are tied economically and culturally to their home. Celebrating the global or national importance of mountains can help secure their protection, but it also weakens mountain communities’ claims to these areas.

Geographers have long explored social justice implications of conservation projects and the expropriation of rights that can come with viewing nature as a commons. In this presentation, I explore the ways in which mountain communities, by virtue of their living in montane environments, lose rights to their own proximate territory in specific ways that are not experienced by populations in other types of landscapes. Specifically, this talk will focus on the mountains of central Tajikistan, which are seen as a national resource that can be exploited by residents of non-montane areas, while those living in the mountains are not afforded proportional reciprocal rights in lowlands.

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