The political economy of land and dispossession in Colombia

Thomson, Frances (2019) The political economy of land and dispossession in Colombia. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis analyses land dispossession and associated displacement in Colombia from a critical, historical, political economy perspective. It illustrates how and why dispossession and related polices have changed, what is distinctive about contemporary processes and how these have been shaped by the country’s specific trajectory of economic development. I consider land grabs effected by private agents and coercive State-backed acquisitions, as well as other forms of dispossession; this generates new insights into what has happened in Colombia, where different forms overlap. In general, the thesis provides for a different and richer understanding of the underlying drivers, varied enabling factors, and complex mechanics of land dispossession in 21st century Colombia.
The analysis serves to challenge superficial accounts of dispossession in Colombia specifically and mainstream explanations of the issue more broadly. The former treat dispossession as an aberration of the armed conflict and/or downplay the importance of other factors. The latter suggest that dispossession arises in the absence of clearly defined property rights and a strong rule of law or that it is imposed by governments for the ‘public good’. A critical political economy approach highlights and attends to the deficiencies of explanations that minimise the importance of history, power relations, social struggles, ideology and the wider socio-political-economic context.
Dispossession has typically been investigated as an appendage to other issues, such as the development of capitalism or armed conflict. This thesis, by contrast, puts dispossession at the centre. I identify and critically analyse key claims about dispossession across varied theoretical fields and thus construct a broad conceptual framework that could be of use to other scholars interested in this growing area of research. I also advance a number of original arguments, including: that the capitalist land regime is laden with contradictions and that perpetuating growth based on capital accumulation relies on the imposition, violation and restriction of private property rights in land. The importance of property violations and restrictions in mobilising land for capitalist development is overlooked even by critical scholars who tend to associate dispossession with enclosures and privatisation. Overall, the thesis shows how analyses of land dispossession can shape the way we think about broader issues and opens up new questions for future investigation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Subjects: F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F2201 South America > F2251 Colombia
H Social Sciences > HC Economic history and conditions > HC0094 America > HC0121 Latin America > HC0161 South America > HC0196 Columbia
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2019 10:17
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2019 10:17
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/84599

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