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University of Iowa News Release

April 25, 2006

Ecuadorian Andean Communities Land Access Struggles Discussed May 1

Francesco Molinari, a University of Iowa graduate student pursuing an interdisciplinary master's degree in international studies, will discuss "From the Use of Legal Structure to Cultural Resistance: The Local Struggle of Ecuadorian Andean Indigenous People for Land Access" at the next International Mondays lecture on May 1. The lecture will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library and is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

"I am interested in the recent efforts of the Ecuadorian indigenous movement to use the legal structure to assure access to new land for their communities and how the latest changes in the legal structure made this practice impossible," said Molinari, who is also associate researcher for FLACSO-Ecuador (Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Ecuador). "The indigenous communities employ cultural resistance as a strategy to defend their land and their identity."

Molinari will discuss how, during the last two decades, through uprisings and mass mobilizations, the Ecuadorian indigenous movement forced the government to negotiate a new agenda. This agenda included recognition of cultural rights for the indigenous people, such as bilingual education, the right to difference and the pluri-national nature of the state.

He will also discuss how the land policies adopted during the 1990s were market-oriented and focused on competitive production.

"These policies did not take into consideration the different system of production of the indigenous communities and the cultural value that they attribute to their land," Molinari said. "This has lead to a basic contradiction: the government recognizes the right to an indigenous culture, but it threatens this culture by making the indigenous land available in the formal land market."

Molinari studied architecture at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia (IUAV) in Venice and at the Escuela Técnica de Architectura in Sevilla, Spain. During the research for his architecture thesis on land politics in Mexico, he lived in Mexico City and was affiliated with the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM).

For more information on the lecture, the International Mondays series or special accommodations to attend the lecture, contact Amy Green at 319-335-1433 or

The International Mondays series is sponsored by UI International Programs, the Stanley-UI Foundation Support Organization and the Iowa City Public Library and presents discussions with individuals who have had international experiences. The lectures are usually held from noon to 1 p.m. every Monday throughout the academic year, with the exception of holidays and breaks.

UI International Programs consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and dean of international programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and the community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Center One, Suite 371, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Amy Green, 319-335-1433,; Writer: Katie Chelminski