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Andres Ozuna, Yshir Chamacoco language activist and CICADA partner. Source:


CICADA academic co-investigator Mario Blaser has been partnering with Yshir communities in Paraguay to identify the areas in which conservation and communities’ visions of the good life overlap and, at times, conflict. Blaser notes the obstacles to Yshir communities’ realization of their livelihoods and life projects the form of “deforestation from cattle-ranching, and, on the other hand,  conservation projects that try to compensate for the loss of forest”. Blaser’s research analyses the intersection and protection of such varying ontologies.

“We grow along with the trees. They are our relatives … they give life to us and when we die we give life to them … Why they speak of nature? That’s something on the paper, they need to come and learn with us about the trees, just like this, face to face, person to  person.”

-Modesto Martinez, Yshir leader, on ecologists and conservation rhetoric in academia in Notes Towards a Political Ontology of ‘Environmental’ Conflicts


Mario Blaser, Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Mario Blaser, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

“Various misunderstandings and conflicts associated with attempts to integrate Indigenous Knowledges (IK) into development and conservation agendas have been analyzed from both political economy and political ecology frameworks. With their own particular inflections, and in addition to their focus on issues of power, both frameworks tend to see what occurs in these settings as involving different epistemologies, meaning that misunderstandings and conflicts occur between different and complexly interested perspectives on, or ways of knowing, the world. Analyzing the conflicts surrounding the creation of a hunting program that enrolled the participation of the Yshiro people of Paraguay, in this article I develop a different kind of analysis, one inspired by an emerging framework that I tentatively call “political ontology.” I argue that, from this perspective, these kinds of conflicts emerge as being about the continuous enactment, stabilization, and protection of different and asymmetrically connected ontologies.”

-The Threat of the Yrmo: The Political Ontology of a Sustainable Hunting Program


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Biodiversity Conservation: For Whom? By Mario Blaser


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Radio program in Yshir language.

Andres Ozuna, a self-taught linguist from the Yshir people of the Paraguayan Chaco created this radio program to defend the language and oral tradition of his people. Yshir Introduction. Source: Mario Blaser’s Life Projects Network.




Centre for Indigenous Conservation and Development Alternatives