Cultural diversity and indigenous peoples’ land claims: argumentative dynamics and jurisprudential approach in the Americas

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The present study is divided in two differentiable but conceptually interrelated sections. Within the first section (Chapters I, II, and III), the focus is on the assessment of the argumentative logic behind the multiculturalist proposal for equally divided societies, among equally positioned ethno-cultural groups. A critical and analytical review of the multiculturalist argumentative constructions shows that its justification lies on the dogmatic assumption of the equal worth or dignity of cultures, which is ontologically incorrect. Cultures cannot be axiologically compared. Instead, this study proposes a new approach focused on the equal functional value of each culture vis-à-vis the cultural producer and beneficiary (the individual). Therefore, it is argued that multiculturalism plea for equal ethno-cultural partition of the public societal space is based on political aspirations and then subjected to –in open, pluralist and democratic societies– the dynamics and methodological procedures of the so-called ‘democratic game’. The second section of this work (Chapters IV, V, and VI) focuses on the specific case of indigenous peoples from both a theoretical and jurisprudential point of view. First, the very notion of indigenous peoples is deconstructed and critically examined. Their special relationship with their traditional lands has been identified as the main objective characteristic that sustains their claims for cultural distinctiveness and differential legal treatment. Then, Chapters V and VI refer to a critical legal analysis of the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in connection with indigenous peoples’ land claims, and the role that the element of ‘special relationship with traditional lands’ has played in the recognition of their right to communal property over traditional lands as protected by the American Convention on Human Rights (Article 21 ACHR). In this sense, special attention is given to the interpretative methods applied by the Court, and –in particular– its underlined ontological assumptions.