Sustainable resettlement and environmental conservation: A collaborative approach to the right of return to the Chagos Archipelago

Jeffery, Laura (2015). Sustainable resettlement and environmental conservation: A collaborative approach to the right of return to the Chagos Archipelago. [Data Collection]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive. 10.5255/UKDA-SN-851735

Environmental conservation, climate change, sustainable development, eco-tourism and military security through a case study of debates about the feasibility of resettlement of the Chagos Archipelago. Displaced Chagos islanders are campaigning for the right to return to their homeland, a British Overseas Territory in the Indian Ocean. Resettlement is controversial: the UK government is concerned about costs, the US government about the security of its Diego Garcia military base, and environmentalists about the delicate ecosystem. Advanced ethnographic fieldwork will elucidate the meaning of 'return' for the Chagossian community in the context of four decades in exile, intergenerational differences in visions of the future, and a chronic lack of infrastructure on Chagos. Research methods developed within the sociology of scientific knowledge will be used to explore the perspectives of environmental scientists. Public consultations will facilitate more effective communication between stakeholders – Chagossian groups, their lawyers, support organisations, environmental scientists, conservation groups, tourism companies, and representatives of the UK government – with the aim of developing a collaborative approach to resettlement. This research will generate insights into collaborative natural resource management, processes of interdisciplinary collaboration, negotiation and dispute resolution, and knowledge practices in conflict.

Data description (abstract)

This study explored tensions between environmental conservation, climate change, sustainable development, eco-tourism and military security through a case study of debates about the feasibility of resettlement of the Chagos Archipelago. Displaced Chagos islanders have long been campaigning for the right to return to their homeland, a British Overseas Territory in the Indian Ocean. Resettlement is controversial: the UK government is concerned about costs, the US government about the security of its Diego Garcia military base, and environmentalists about the delicate ecosystem. Advanced ethnographic fieldwork was conducted to elucidate the meaning of 'return' for the Chagossian community in the context of four decades in exile, intergenerational differences in visions of the future, and a chronic lack of infrastructure on Chagos. Research methods developed within the sociology of scientific knowledge were used to explore the perspectives of environmental scientists. Public consultations were held to facilitate more effective communication between stakeholders – Chagossian groups, their lawyers, support organisations, environmental scientists, conservation groups, tourism companies, and representatives of the UK government – with the aim of developing a collaborative approach to resettlement. Detailed interviews were also conducted with scientific experts to ascertain their assessments of how resettlement would affect the ecosystem of the Chagos Archipelago; with Chagos Islanders in Mauritius and the UK to elicit their unique knowledge of the environment of the Chagos, and ideas about and preferences regarding resettlement; and key business leaders in Mauritius and Seychelles with interests in developing Chagos as an elite or ecotourism resort.

Creators:
Creator NameEmailAffiliationORCID (as URL)
Jeffery, Lauralaura.jeffery@ed.ac.ukUniversity of EdinburghUnspecified
Research funders: ESRC
Grant reference: RES-063-27-0214
Topic classification: Nataural environment
Society and culture
Keywords: Chagos, Chagos islanders, British Overseas Territory, environment, environmental conservation, marine protected area, displacement, resettlement, restoration ecology, Indian Ocean, seychelles, Mauritius, Chagossian, British Indian Ocean Territory, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, plantation, ethnobotany
Project title: Sustainable resettlement and environmental conservation: A collaborative approach to the right of return to the Chagos Archipelago
Grant holders: Laura Jeffery
Project dates:
FromTo
1 October 200910 May 2015
Date published: 23 Jul 2015 15:12
Last modified: 14 Jul 2017 09:46

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