A recent study co-authored by Utrecht University researcher Giuseppe Feola reveals the subtle and ‘ordinary’ mechanisms of urban land grabbing in peri-urban spaces of small Colombian cities, and argues that policy incoherence and governance problems drive land grabbing in these areas.
Land grabbing is most often associated to dispossession of land in rural spaces. This is frequently to the advantage of large actors such as multinationals and governments and often includes the use of violence. And when we think of land grabbing in Colombia and Latin America, it is usually large infrastructure development, natural resource extraction, cash crop plantations, environmental conservation, and armed conflict that come to mind.
Land grabbing also seen in urban areas
In Colombia land grabbing has generated environmental injustices, exacerbated social vulnerability and conflict, and generally disrupted the social fabric of communities. But it doesn’t only occur in rural areas. It is a problem also faced in urban areas, and especially at the urban-rural border - peri-urban space - where urban expansion, agriculture and other land uses clash in the name of diverging visions of development. In urban contexts land appropriation is often more hidden, subtle and difficult to detect. It usually involves the appropriation of smaller areas of land, does not involve large, visible actors, and does not necessarily include the use of armed force.