Territories of Fire: Indigenous Communities, Land, and Anarchy among a Highland People in Mindoro
AbstractThe article challenges the assumption that land tenure is contingent on acquiring a land title. It argues that for Indigenous peoples a land may be delineated, occupied, utilised, and collectively owned through the concept of territoriality. Through a combined ‘anarchist anthropology’ and political ecology the article provides ethnographic evidence from among the Tau-Buhid as a case in point to show that through their everyday relationship with fire and ignition practices territoriality is reinforced among their communities as a basis of land tenure. Thus, despite efforts of the Philippine state to phase out all kinds of fire practice on theirland, a portion of which is a declared protected area, ignition continues as a way of orchestrating territorial autonomy against state sovereignty in the highlands. Ultimately, through such practices Indigenous lands have metaphorically transformed into ‘territories of fire’, a frontier where the state is irrelevant to Indigenouslife and where state-control apparatuses are inoperable.
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