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Indigenous recognition in state-based planning systems: understanding textual mediation in the contact zone

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  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Political Science
  • Social Sciences


Indigenous peoples around the world are claiming and, in many cases, achieving recognition of their customary land rights, with significant challenges for planning systems. How should we understand both the nature of this demand and its politics of recognition? This article demonstrates how the insights and principles contained in political and democratic theory, along with a methodological framework inspired by Institutional Ethnography informs the conceptualization of what is happening between Indigenous peoples and planning systems in British settler-states. Using the highly evocative language of the ‘contact zone’ and an illustration from environmental planning in British Columbia, Canada, this article indicates how reading these theories together builds an approach for critically analysing the textual constraints placed on the social spaces where Indigenous peoples and state-based planning systems meet.

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