Anthropology and Environment Society
Oral Presentation Session
All settlers are not the same. The projects that different settlers have for ‘their’ land and country, and how they achieve them, is contingent upon their abilities to implement their particular settler narratives of belonging, a belonging above all others. In this paper, I interrogate the complexities and contradictions of settler land politics as inhabitants create affective ties through their rural livelihoods, reordering the local landscape as they do so. Drawing upon Turner’s “settler dreaming,” I examine the imagined landscapes settlers project onto local ecologies in Paraguay. As they “dream” of the ideal ranch, fields, and farms, they materialize settler logics of elimination. In the case of Paraguay, not only elite ranchers and poor rural farmers colonize indigenous lands; Brazilians also project futures when they settle in Paraguay. As such, I document the complex nation-making that happens when settlers cross borders. Yet these landscapes are never empty nor endless. Not only are indigenous people’s lives and livelihoods eliminated in favor of others, so also are some settlers. In the second part of the paper I focus on poor, rural settlers who carry out settler colonialism, yet are also subject to dispossession by elite landholders. Their reflections on their role as both dispossessor and dispossessed reveal settler colonialism’s logics of racialization, hierarchization, and nation-building. Nevertheless, I document opportunities for recognition and support between poor, rural settlers and indigenous people, mostly on the scale of the everyday.