The Geopolitics of Land: Population, Security and Territory Viewed from the International Financing of the Land Survey in Bolivia (1996 - 2013)

Taking as its starting point a map of external financing of the rural land survey, this article offers a geopolitical reading of the transnational, project-based sharing out of land in Bolivia. To do so, it draws on Foucault’s interpretative reading of population, security and territory to illustrate how players in the international aid system deployed their territorialities in a manner consistent with the problems they had prioritised. The neoliberal channelling of the territorial claims of indigenous and rural communities in a context of “tied aid,” involving international land surveying companies, the geospatial policing of coca growers and the putting in place of framework conditions for the parcelling out of the territory into concessions, constitute the main keys for interpreting the spatial concentration of funding from players such as the United States, European countries and multilateral organizations prior to 2006. But a chronological analysis of the progress made with the land survey by 2013 also allows this scenario to be contrasted with the “post-neoliberal” shift that has taken place in Bolivia in terms of costs, equity and efficiency brought about by the break with the project-based organization of the land survey.