AbstractThe thesis builds on seven months of fieldwork in Paraguay, from January to July 2011. Most of my fieldwork was spent in the indigenous village Cuyabia in the Chaco, the northeast region of Paraguay. The main topic of the thesis is the implementation of a forest project in the village.
Through empirical examples I aim to illustrate how the forest project, which is implemented by the NGO Alter Vida, is based on an image the NGO has of the villagers of Cuyabia as the forest people. The villagers have recently moved to the land where their ancestors lived, and the NGO is implementing the forest project with the aim to promote a sustainable development through conservation based on the villagers traditional use of the forest. Most of the villagers in Cuyabia, however, have the last 50 years depended on wage labour, and have not been dependent on using the forest in a traditional way.
Since I spent most of my time in Cuyabia, my main focus will be on the village. As I will depict, however, both the cattle ranches that surround the land of Cuyabia, and the NGO Alter Vida influence the everyday life of the villagers. Hence, much of my focus will be on the villagers encounters with the NGO Alter Vida and the neighbouring ranches.
Throughout the thesis I illustrate how the NGO and the ranchers produce stereotypes of the villagers, and how they act upon these stereotypes as if they were real. Further, I claim that the NGOs expectations of the forest project do not coincide with the villagers expectations. I apply a time perspective in the attempt to understand the different expectations of the project. Hence, I suggest that the villagers and the NGO have different perceptions of the future, which, as I will argue, affect how they act in the present. Towards the end of the thesis I will depict a conflict regarding the land of the village that emerged when my fieldwork was going towards the end.