Indigenous Social Movement in Nayarit: Naayeri Resistance to the Las Cruces Hydroelectric Dam

Authors: Samuel Orndorff*,
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Environmental Justice, Development
Keywords: Indigenous peoples, social movement, environmental policy, hydroelectric dams, Mexico
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 39
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This research is meant to understand how Naayeri social movements have resisted displacement, environmental damage, and cultural destruction that would have been caused by the Las Cruces Hydroelectric Dam mega-project in Nayarit, Mexico. To shed light on this struggle against a top-down economic development project, I analyze the pan-Indigenous, international legal frameworks that underpin the movement and the practices of Naayeri and mestizo individuals. My theoretical
framework is informed by activist scholars who challenge the oppression of Native, Indigenous, and First Nations peoples. Marxian political economy, which I intersect with social movement theories, forges connections between structural-historical injustices and the everyday realities of actors facing and challenging dispossession. Through this I aim
to advance knowledge of Indigenous resistance from within Indigenous framings and practices. In particular, I focus on how Naayeri people used the right to free prior informed consent (FPIC) legal framework at the community scale, including the way it shaped participation and discourse. To do so, I conducted in-depth qualitative interviews, participant observation, and museum archival research. In producing a case study, I seek to provide a model that can be used to understand socioecological struggles
elsewhere, particularly those involving FPIC and extractive industry. Ultimately, this research reveals that modes of resistance have been taken to assert autonomy, defend sacred geography, and that the movement against the dam is one part of a larger
decolonizing struggle occurring in Nayarit and globally. I hypothesize the movement radically reshapes the stance Indigenous peoples take to defend their territories.

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