Social Cohesion and Environmental Governance Among the Comcaac of Northern Mexico

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Book Chapter

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Anthropology and Museum Studies

Publication Date



The Comcaac have inhabited the central coast of the Sonoran Desert in Northern Mexico since time immemorial. Acknowledging the value of their continuous presence and the adaptations it has generated, scholars have documented for decades the intricacies of their environmental knowledge—a complex corpus of socio-ecological relations in constant refinement and transformation. Yet, a crucial point missing within these efforts is the recognition of the ways in which the colonial encounter and the eventual incorporation of this indigenous people into a market economy in the twentieth century drastically re-organized the ways knowledge and power flux locally—an acknowledgement that consequently challenges scholarly understandings of traditional knowledge as extemporal. As old system of reciprocity and collective accountability transformed under new forms of social organization, the individualistic inclinations that characterize the Comcaac society were drastically exacerbated by capitalist logics, producing in turn new forms of power and governance that stand at odds with previous social logics and balances. The present chapter sheds light into the existing tensions that define Comcaac livelihoods in order to better understand the social creation and transformation of environmental knowledge while reflecting upon the vulnerability and resilience that characterizes the different governance systems of the Global South dryland regions.


This book chapter was originally published in Stewardship of Future Drylands and Climate Change in the Global South: Challenges and Opportunities for the Agenda 2030. The full-text chapter from the publisher can be found here.

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