Article written by DPDF 2009 Critical Agrarian Studies Research Director Marc Edelman and Andres Leon.
The lack of historical perspective in many studies of land grabbing leads researchers to ignore or underestimate the extent to which pre-existing social relations shape rural spaces in which contemporary land deals occur. Bringing history back in to land grabbing research is essential for understanding antecedents, establishing baselines to measure impacts and restoring the agency of contending agrarian social classes. In Central America each of several cycles of land grabbing—liberal reforms, banana concessions and agrarian counter-reform—has profoundly shaped the period that succeeded it. In the Bajo Aguán region of Honduras—a centre of agrarian reform and then counter-reform—violent conflicts over land have been materially shaped by both peasant, landowner and state repertoires of contention and repression, as well as by peasants’ memories of dispossession.