Sonaha people, a riverscape and a national park in Nepal: rethinking contestations as a politics of space (12885)
This paper centres on contestations between the Sonaha indigenous minority group and the Bardia National Park authorities in lowland Nepal. The lives of the Sonahas who are customarily engaged in artisanal fishing and gold panning in the rivers and who have special ties with the natural environment have become increasingly constrained by the local nature conservation regime and its wider discourse. Based on a critical ethnographic investigation, this paper examines the politics of riverscape conservation in the contexts of the national park and the overlapping ancestral territory of the Sonahas; and unravels Sonaha resistance and their counter discourse. The paper argues the case for rethinking national park-indigenous people contestations as a multifaceted politics of space. It utilizes Henry Lefebvre’s radical conception of space and postulates a framework of “biocultural social space” for achieving ‘just’ conservation ends.