5: Land Grabbing in Latin America: Dynamics of Conflict and Large Scale Acquisitions

Currently, land grabbing is happening in the most remote zones of the world, as far as capitalism expands its models of production. This phenomenon is strongly linked to the increased need of commodity crops in the global markets. These crops often are cultivated by investors who have resources for carrying out large scale projects. Small land holders are often portrayed as incapable of profitable production, given their backwardness and lack of resources. Such argument has been widely used for grabbing their lands and converting them into salaried workers. Latin America meets interesting characteristics. Civil wars and fierce competition for natural resources cause pervasive conflict and displacement. This can also be caused by cattle ranchers, drug barons, land speculators, institutional authorities and both intra-national and international firms. These actors have systematically and ruthlessly divested poorer agricultural workers of their land holdings for their own use, thus forcing them to migrate to more populous urban centres. This accumulation has sometimes boosted ‘economic development’ by displacing and dispossessing small landholders whose cultivations were not as profitable as those of agroindustries. Such episodes of dispossession have resulted in the transformation of extensive tracts of countryside once dominated by small scale agriculture. The panel will address mainly violent accumulation and large scale acquisitions, taking into account their permanent interaction in Latin American context during the last 50 years. Abstracts (max. 300 words) should be emailed to the panel chair.

Panel chair

Álvaro Germán Torres Mora, germantorresmora@gmail.com