From colonial usurpation to landgrabbing

Ties to the earth
By Pablo F. Luna

Throughout the early modern and modern period, land and territory (and access to the natural resources they opened up) were the subject of negotiation and conflict between different protagonists. This was the case during the two main waves of colonial expansion and decolonising reaction (16th-18th centuries and 19th-20th centuries), and has continued into the 21st century. This paper endeavours to draw attention to colonial usurpation and appropriation of land over the long term, and the response of rural people around the world. Yet it also aims to view the current “landgrabbing” (whereby financial forces have taken over from landowning ones on a global scale, a trend that has been gathering pace since the 2007-2008 crisis) in an historical perspective. This financialisation process is still ongoing, mobilising a variety of social and institutional agents around the world, and has probably put an end to the globalisation of landowning.

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