A world-systems frontier perspective to land: exploring the uneven trajectory of land rights standardization in the Andes

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This paper proposes a world-systems frontier framework by approaching frontiers and frontier zones as analytical tools in indicating and understanding the uneven local-global interactions underlying world-systemic incorporation processes. It argues that the notion of frontier can highlight the role of ‘peripheral agency’ in local-global interactions, revealing incorporation as a negotiated process. This paper applies a world-systems frontier perspective to the analysis of historical processes of land rights standardization in the Andes. Based on a longue durée assessment of the implementation and contestation of land reforms in Highland communities in Bolivia, the formation and reorganization of a centralized land regime in a peripheral setting is unveiled as a negotiated process. Its course is shaped by the interplay of the modernizing aspirations of public authorities and international interest groups and the strong communal land claims defended by indigenous peasants. This complex (re)negotiation over rights and resources drives the creation and movement of (new) frontiers of land control, materializing in an uneven trajectory of land commodification. The presented frontier perspective is instructive to questions on the expansion, limits, and contradictions of the capitalist world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-539
JournalThe Journal of World-Systems Research
Issue number2
Early online date11 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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