Christopher L. Carter

PhD candidate in political science
University of California, Berkeley

Book Project

Christopher L. Carter. The Causes and Consequences of Indigenous Territorial Authority.

   Abstract When are indigenous groups granted political authority over the lands they occupy? And how does receiving this concession from central states affect long-term political representation and welfare outcomes? Scholars in political science and related disciplines have often highlighted the primacy of indigenous demands for indigenous territorial authority---here defined as the legal right of native populations to exercise control over a geographically delimited space, or "territory." Yet, why do states offer this authority, why do indigenous groups sometimes reject it---which they do---and what are the long-term effects of these extensions of authority for collective action and welfare? I theorize how the goals and motivations around resource extraction shape the decision of the central state to offer territorial authority as well as the choice by indigenous groups to resist or embrace it. Under divided extraction---where private elites extract beyond the preferences of the central government due to ideological or political differences---both the central state and indigenous groups have an incentive to bolster territorial authority. Under unified extraction---where private actors extract in a manner consistent with the central government's preferences---central states either undermine territorial authority or impose a weak form of territorial authority that is subsequently resisted by indigenous groups. I then argue that the conditions that give rise to territorial authority also shape its political and social effects. Under divided extraction, the central state offers a "consolidated" form of territorial authority that maximizes indigenous groups' collective action capacity, which can then be mobilized to elect indigenous politicians and obtain public goods. Under unified extraction, however, governments create a "fragmented" form of territorial authority, which reduces indigenous groups' collective action capacity, reducing their political representation and access to public benefits. Empirically, I adopt a multi-method approach that draws on archival data, historical natural experiments, a robust interdisciplinary literature on indigenous politics, original surveys and experiments, extensive fieldwork in indigenous communities, and over one hundred interviews with mayors, bureaucrats, and indigenous authorities.

Funded by: US Department of Education, UC Berkeley Institute for International Studies John L. Simpson Memorial Grant, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UC Mexus, National Science Foundation

Implementing partner: IPA

Related papers

Christopher L. Carter. States of Extraction: The Creation of Indigenous Territorial Authority in the Americas.

   Abstract When are indigenous groups granted political authority over the lands they occupy? This article explores variation in both state supply and indigenous demand for "territorial authority"---here defined as the legal right of native populations to exercise control over a geographically delimited space, or territory. I argue that expansions and reductions of indigenous territorial authority emerge as a strategic response from both central states and indigenous groups to the prevailing form of extraction of indigenous groups' land, labor, and capital. Unified extraction, which involves coordination between the central state and local elite, reduces indigenous territorial authority when land is extracted and leads states to impose a "weak" form of territorial authority when labor or capital is extracted; indigenous groups resist either option. Conversely, divided extraction, under which a local elite extracts beyond what the central state prefers, may give rise to a more robust form of territorial authority, which indigenous groups generally embrace. To evaluate this argument, I first use archival data and a historical natural experiment from Peru to show that divided extraction under the indigenous head tax increased territorial authority while unified extraction under a labor conscription program advanced a more limited territorial authority, which indigenous groups then resisted. I then leverage a natural experiment from the United States to show that unified extraction of indigenous land under the Dawes Act reduced territorial authority while a subsequent period of divided extraction beginning in 1934 increased it.

Christopher L. Carter. More Autonomy, More Resources: Indigenous Authority and Public Goods Provision in Contemporary Latin America

   Abstract Indigenous groups in the Americas have long demanded the right to exercise political authority over the territories they occupy. Yet, the extension of this "territorial authority" may also rupture native groups' ties to the state, thereby reducing their access to government-provided goods and services. This article investigates whether the extension of territorial authority has in fact curtailed indigenous groups' ability to lobby for state resources. I argue that, rather than breaking linkages with the government, territorial authority can increase indigenous groups' political representation, which in turn expands their access to public goods and services. Territorial authority preserves traditional norms and institutions that solve coordination problems and facilitate collective mobilization within and across indigenous groups. This mobilization can be deployed to elect indigenous officials to subnational or national-level posts. I test this theory using ethnographic fieldwork, along with experiments embedded in a survey with over three hundred current and former presidents of Peruvian indigenous comunidades , or communities. I find that the recognition of these communities, which are spaces where territorial authority is exercised, preserve longstanding norms of reciprocity that enable intra-group coordination to elect indigenous candidates to positions in local government. I then use a regression kink design to show that, when elected, indigenous subnational officials reward indigenous communities with public goods, which themselves are provided using traditional institutions of volunteer, communal labor. Importantly, these findings only emerge under "consolidated" territorial authority. When governments seek to prevent this collective mobilization by indigenous groups, they design and offer a form of "fragmented" territorial authority, which redefines community borders to either divide cohesive groups or combine groups prone to conflict. These arrangements thwart collective action and prevent the aforementioned public goods gains from territorial authority.

Christopher L. Carter. Unlikely Beneficiaries: Indigenous Groups and Education Provision in the Nineteenth-Century Americas

   Abstract When do politically excluded populations receive access to public goods? Indigenous groups in the Americas have long experienced significant political and economic marginalization. Yet, these groups have at times obtained public benefits from the government. The nineteenth-century expansion of primary education to certain native populations provides a particular puzzle as it seems an unlikely outcome: non-indigenous groups held a near monopoly on political power, and the curriculum in primary schools often focused on a nation-building goal that entirely excluded indigenous populations. This article explores why some indigenous groups benefited from this early expansion of primary education. I argue that two conditions were jointly necessary. First, indigenous groups needed the capacity to act collectively to pressure government officials; communal landholding institutions proved essential in creating and reinforcing this capacity. Second, indigenous groups needed the opportunity space for collective action to be effective; divisions within the non-indigenous elite created such a space. I examine this argument using a natural experiment from nineteenth-century Peru using as-if random variation in indigenous groups' exposure to local-level, intra-elite conflict. Consistent with the theory, I show that this conflict increased education provision to indigenous groups but only when those groups were organized into communal landholding institutions. I then trace the long-term welfare effects of this early period of education provision. In addition to this evidence from Peru, I explore case studies of primary education expansion in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Bolivia, the United States, and Mexico.

© 2018 Christopher Carter
Adapted from road2stat (Nan Xiao)