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Ordinary land grabbing in peri-urban spaces: land use conflicts and governance in a small Colombian city

Feola, G., Suzunaga, J., Soler, J. and Goodman, M. K. (2019) Ordinary land grabbing in peri-urban spaces: land use conflicts and governance in a small Colombian city. Geoforum, 105. pp. 145-157. ISSN 0016-7185

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2019.05.018


Recent scholarship on ‘urban land grabbing’ has urged researchers to take more geographically nuanced perspectives on land appropriation, especially in the global South. In this, there is the need to understand the actions of and interactions amongst a multiplicity of local actors—beyond large-scale investors and global cities—when considering land grabs in the spaces of urban development. Therefore, this paper analyses what—in building on the work of Ojeda (2016)—we conceptualise as the more ‘gradual’ and ‘ordinary’ driving factors of land use conflict and dispossession in the peri-urban spaces of the small-scale city of Sogamoso, Colombia. Based on participant observation fieldwork and 38 semi-structured key-informant interviews between 2017 and 2018, we first situate our findings within debates on peri-urban landscape governance and conflict and urban environmental politics in Latin America and Colombia. We then explore the ways that the everyday, livelihood practices of agriculture, mining and ecological conservation are in tension with urban expansionism and land grabbing within the urban and peri-urban spaces. In particular, we found that these tensions are facilitated by local policy incoherence and the failures of municipal, place-based policies and politics: Policy confusion, incoherence and capture by elites results in normative uncertainty and weak environmental governance while a lack of coordinated municipal governance in peri-urban spaces leads to further confusion and an exacerbation of already unequal, grounded power relations. Both lead to gradual and more ordinary processes of land grabbing by powerful actors in Sogamoso to the detriment of the livelihoods of citizens and ecological conservation in peri-urban spaces. In short, focusing on these often unnoticed, place-based and internally-dynamic forces of landscape conflict within the city of Sogamoso brings to the fore the everyday actions, actors and power relationships involved in urban expansionism, mining, farming and ecosystems conservation as these practices seek to coexist and compete for the same, relatively sparse amount of peri-urban space. The paper makes a substantial empirical and theory-building contribution to understanding the shifting urban geographies and environmental governance of the cities of the Global South through the day to day local scale governance of urban land use conflicts and land grabbing from the perspective of peri-urban landscapes in the small-scale city of Sogamoso, Brazil.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:81815


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