Introduction Global concerns with the conservation of natural resources have motivated the creation of thousands of nature-protected areas in rural regions around the world (Naughton-Treves et al. 2005; Schwartzman et al. 2000; Terborgh 1999). Simultaneously efforts to combat widespread global poverty, mostly in rural areas of the developing world, have attempted to address socio-economic development issues (Brockington et al. 2008; Wilkie et al. 2006). In Latin America and Brazil, for instance, recent attempts to address social problems while simultaneously halting environmental degradation have created contradictions and both positive and negative synergies. On one hand, the number of nature-protected areas has grown steadily in the region (Drummond et al. 2009). On the other hand, multicultural policies across Brazil and Latin America led to the granting of communal properties to rural groups. These grants were based on claims of ethnic identity and historical ties to land (see, e.g. Anderson 2007 and Offen 2003 on garifuna in Honduras; Escobar and Paulson 2005 on palenques in Colombia; French 2009 and Penna-Firme 2012 on quilombolas in Brazil; and Tardieu 2009 on cimarrones in Panama). Communal areas turned over to traditional and rural groups often overlap with territories set apart for nature conservation (Offen 2003; Penna-Firme and Brondízio 2007). In order to mitigate deeply rooted, historical land tenure conflicts between local communities and strict conservation programmes, government policies have portrayed local residents of nature-protected areas as environmental stewards (Castro et al. 2006; Penna-Firme 2012). However, the general assumption and aim underlying these policies is that in order to foster conservation and development, rural livelihoods based on direct uses of nature – such as subsistence agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing, and extractivism – should give way to a combination of ethno-and ecotourism, scientifically supported agroforestry, and the management of non-timber forest products (Penna-Firme and Brondízio 2007). Ethnic identity and environmental stewardship are providing a new frame of reference for local development strategies. In many cases, however, this alliance has been interpreted as a form of ‘commoditization of poverty’, that is, the
process of reframing local material conditions, forms of resource use, and social history as markers of ethnic identities of economically poor and politically disadvantaged groups (Penna-Firme and Brondízio 2007). On one hand, the use of cultural identity to take advantage of new markets and policies for ethnotourism within nature-conservation areas seems to be a viable source of income for some households and individuals. On the other hand, it has fostered internal divisions, inequality, and conflicts between those officially framed as a traditional group, such as quilombolas, and those who have not been officially granted an ethnicity and communal rights over land, such as caiçaras. In Brazil, quilombos and caiçaras have distinct histories and ethnic identities. Quilombos are African-diaspora communities formed mainly by runaway slaves in the nineteenth century and former slaves after the end of slavery in 1888 (Arruti 2006). After two decades of military dictatorship, Brazil’s Constitution of 1988, which was a landmark in the process of (re)democratization, incorporated many special concessions and civil rights, including a clause granting land rights to communities of descendants of runaway slaves, known as quilombos. This provision states that survivors of Afro-descendants occupying their lands are recognized as definitive owners, and the state shall issue titles to the land (French 2006, 2009; Gomes 2003). In 2003, a presidential decree asserted that the main criterion to define who belongs to quilombola communities was selfidentification. Since the quilombola decree was passed, hundreds of communities have claimed communal territorial rights based on Afro-Brazilian cultural markers linked to a quilombola ethnic identity. Caiçaras are fishing communities in southeastern Brazil of mixed European, indigenous, and African ancestry and with strong ties to the local environment (Hanazaki et al. 2000). Caiçaras have historically depended on agriculture and artisanal fishing (Adams 2000, Marcílio 1986, Mussolini 1980). Unlike the meagre literature on quilombolas, there is a relatively vast and predominantly human ecology oriented literature on caiçaras (Adams 2000; Begossi 1992, 1997; Sanches 2001). Drawing on seven months of ethnographic research I conducted between 2008 and 2009, in this chapter I discuss ethnicity and economic change in the village of Camorcy (a pseudonym), a small village that has been recognized by the Brazilian federal government as a quilombo since 2003,1 situated in a nature-protected area established in 1977 (and which still prohibits the presence of people within its territory). I show evidence that local people’s attempts to revitalize and construct a quilombola and Afro-Brazilian ethnic identity have become an economic strategy to leverage the new market for ethnotourism in nature-protected areas. Here, I focus on how ethnicity can become a major source of social and cultural capital for poor and disenfranchised rural populations in their efforts to counter top-down conservation and multicultural policies with grassroots development initiatives. I argue that, beyond issues of legitimacy and authenticity, locals have adopted this identity as a means to cope with the park’s banishment of subsistence agriculture, animal husbandry, and other economic activities considered threatening to the local environment by conservation authorities.