Challenging collective property regimes for the Afro Colombian communities of La Boquilla and Medio Atrato

Authors: Monica Hernandez*, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Topics: Latin America, Ethnicity and Race, Political Geography
Keywords: land grabbing, Latin America, Colombia, dispossession
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Washington 1, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Most Afro Colombian communities that have collective titles of their lands have struggled with violent strategies of enclosure from agroindustry and armed actors. However, almost equal dispossession occurs in Colombia through mechanisms endorsed by state authorities that not necessarily involve armed violence. Rural Afro-Colombian communities that have Collective Land Titles have experienced various means to undermine collective property regimes. The lack of cadastral information for rural lands creates difficulties to clarify land property in contested cases or to control informal land markets. Furthermore, economic and planning policies affect the livelihoods of Afro Colombian communities, making it unviable for them to stay in their lands if they do not participate in the development projects that threaten to displace them. The paper reflects on the cases of Medio Atrato and La Boquilla in Colombia, where I conducted archival and ethnographic research to analyze the processes through which these communities acquire the collective titles of their lands and the challenges they have faced before and after obtaining the title. This conflicts evidence of forms of dispossession often covered up by bureaucracies or marketing for development projects. I aim to expose and examine various strategies to contribute to a more comprehensive definition of dispossession of ethnic territories in Colombia.

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