Understanding Cosmopolitan Communities in Protected Areas: A Case Study from the Colombian Amazon

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It is now widely accepted that research about people and their interactions with wildlife provides unique and significant contributions that enhance our understanding of interspecies relationships in tropical forests. Studying human-nonhuman relationships involves not only the gaining of in-depth knowledge about local beliefs, values, and practices, but also the examination of the cosmopolitan identities of individuals as well as the impact of social and cultural processes of globalisation. Hence, it is imperative to explore the complexity of local communities living in
protected areas. In this study, I consider the impact of community-based conservation (CBC) within Amazonianist societies and discuss how Western human-centred ideals of conservation can be made complementary to existing indigenous belief systems, sometimes resulting in unique and insightful outcomes. I present a case study showing how two Tikuna communities in the Colombian Amazon adopt transcultural beliefs and display innovation and resilience in the face of environmental and cultural change, and how these processes generate attitudes towards conservation initiatives and influence local livelihoods that are transformed by conservation efforts. I suggest that acknowledging indigenous populations as changing groups with dynamic, practical understandings of humans and nonhumans is a vital step towards identifying solutions to socioecological problems, where the needs of people and wildlife are met simultaneously.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-37
Number of pages12
JournalConservation and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2019


  • human-nonhuman relationships
  • transcultural beliefs
  • indigenous people
  • protected areas
  • community-based conservation
  • cosmopolitan communities
  • Colombian Amazon


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