Land Relations in Flux: New Land Investments and Precarity

Land is central in economic, political, cultural, ecological, and affective relations.  As Li (2014) argues, land, while often treated like a commodity, must be made so through the work of assembling its value as such and settling other potential meanings, values, and uses. New land-reliant capitalist economic activities often disrupt existing land-based relations.  In so doing, they may displace people and/or alter lifeways, ecological processes, and non-capitalist economic activities.  The arrival of new land-reliant capitalist activities may also ignite, exacerbate, or even settle conflicts over land?s meanings, values, and uses.  These activities are found in agricultural and urban areas, in settler colonial and post-colonial societies, in borderlands, in special economic zones, in ecologically meaningful areas, and in resource-rich regions.  This panel will present papers on the changing economy of land, and the impacts on people who face changing access to the valued resources, relationships, and cultural practices land enables.  It will examine precarity, cultural change, and conflict within and over land’s varied meanings, values, and uses, and the possibilities for decolonization, redistribution, and ecological security emerging.

The intervention we hope this panel will make is to explore these issues from geographically and contextually diverse ethnography, linking rather than silo-ing urban and rural, natural resource and environmental ethnography, borderlands, and Indigenous, settler colonial, and post-colonial contexts.  Abstracts are welcome from scholars working on economy and land in all these areas.

Please send abstracts (250 words max) with paper title and presenter information to panel organizer Kathleen Piovesan, University of Oregon, by Friday, March 22. Session participants must be registered for the meeting by April 5.

Li, T. (2014). What is land? Assembling a resource for global investment. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 39(4), 589-602.