WRITING A FOREWORD for this excellent set of referencing tools is a pleasure for me. It brings back pleasant and intense memories of the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property (IASCP) held in Oaxaca, Mexico, in August of 2004. These meetings were well attended by scholars from all parts of the world, by policymakers, by volunteers and staff from many countries, by members of Indigenous communities, and by students. The multi-lingual, disciplinary exchanges that occurred within the sessions, and on the fabulous grounds where the meetings were held, were intense, fun, and exciting. We all came away enriched by new findings and motivated to do even better work in the future.
So many edited books by academics are focused primarily on scientific topics of interest primarily to one discipline. These four volumes dramatically differ from most postconference publications. The volumes are written by scholars who address broad issues of interest across scientific disciplines that are of major interest to citizens and policymakers in all parts of the world. If scientists are to have any impact on the policy world, efforts like this are essential to provide readable syntheses that document important findings and their policy implications.
In this volume on Indigenous Rights, Economic Development, and Identity, Caddy focuses on the Maya of Belize and concludes that without a unified voice, the Mayan peoples have lost ground in defending their common property and Indigenous knowledge. In her article, P. Smith examines how Indigenous rights are not a stationary concept describing the past but rather must be jointly developed over time by Indigenous peoples themselves working with governance regimes at multiple levels. Finally, Gibson asks whether the international law that has evolved related to intellectual property rights can be used to protect Indigenous knowledge as well as Indigenous property rights. Her answer is “no,” and she proposes a new organization within the UN to work on protecting Indigenous rights. In her concluding analysis, P. Smith reviews several viewing points for examining Indigenous rights and urges IASCP to continue the dialogue between common-property scholars and Indigenous peoples that blossomed at the Oaxaca meetings.
My recommendation is to put these volumes where you will be sure to read them! We all are inundated with too many publications that swamp our inbox (both electronic and paper) and have to make tough choices as to which we can read. These volumes already provide excellent summaries of an immense body of research—and they are written by authorities who know the field well.
Autores: Merino, Leticia / Robson, Jim (editors)