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  • Racialized and Identity-Based Inequalities as (New?) Frontiers for Academic Discussion:Future Agendas around Land Issues
  • Diego Andrés Lugo-Vivas

latin America and the Caribbean have long carried a heavy colonial weight. The region's history of inequality and development reflects years of conflicts, struggles, exclusion, and visions of progress that have had a particular imprint on our social landscapes. On the one hand, the construction of a highly unequal rurality centered on the hacienda, mining enclaves, and expulsion of peasant, indigenous, Afro-descendant, LGBTIQ+, and other racial, ethnic, and gender minorities due to spatially extensive activities based on cattle, monocrop, conservation, and, later, energy and hydrocarbon projects, is present in almost every Latin American and Caribbean country. On the other hand, the ongoing construction of the city and the urban frontier, with segmented settlement in which wealthier groups populate less risky areas while enormous misery belts are erected as a form of exclusion against migrant and displaced groups, summarizes the history of the urban frontier.

In the academy, both of these processes have prioritized a particular stream of voices, topics, and research mechanisms that might be taken as a consequence of the very colonial history. The Conference of Latin American Geographers (henceforth CLAG) and the Journal of Latin American Geography (henceforth JLAG) are simultaneously a reflection of that, a source of inspiration and critique, and a vehicle to propose new debates. This essay will emphasize the history of CLAG and JLAG discussions of land issues, and it will propose a set of theoretical and methodological approaches to uncover new realities and old processes related to the dispossession and displacement of a set of minorities, namely, LGBTIQ+ groups.

White, male, and north-based scholars have dominated CLAG publications and presentations for decades. A brief overview of "who has published what" illustrates the perhaps unconscious emphasis that CLAG publications have developed over time. Since the creation of CLAG's Publication Series (1972-1980), Proceedings (1981-1983), and Yearbook (1984-2002), authors devoted to the study of land issues had a particular profile. Between 1972 and 2002, just over 100 articles on land issues were published.1 Of those, eighty-six were authored or co-authored by 100 white, male, north-based scholars under single or shared authorship, compared to only sixteen articles authored by women (with no co-authored contributions, much less publications in which men [End Page 233] were led by a woman). Since 2002, with the advent of JLAG, new frontiers have been established, though male predominance is still distinctive.2 Of the 245 land-related articles published during this time, 293 men and 117 women appear as authors and just eleven manuscripts have been coauthored by teams in which two or more men have followed the lead of a female voice.

These and other trends, such as the lack of a Caribbean emphasis and the historical prevalence of bilingual authors with few involvements of indigenous, peasant, and Afro-descendant Latin American and Caribbean-born scholars, might be seen as a consequence of the very colonial history and the exclusionary past and present of the region. These, on countless occasions, have been the subject of study in articles in CLAG publications. In that context, one of the most salient historical emphases in Latin American geography has been the analysis of land use and land cover change (LULC change), and the distribution of property regimes based on homogeneous notions around land and soil as scientifically observable research objects. In my experience as a researcher in Colombia, the academic tradition has revolved around highly unequal property regimes, processes of colonization, and settlement in the agricultural frontier that have reinforced patterns of exclusion and violence associated with the accumulation of land, which in the Colombian case have been exacerbated by the longest and bloodiest armed conflict in the hemisphere.

In recent decades, and coincident with the arrival of JLAG, political ecology has played an important role in the diffusion of new voices regarding cyclical and renewed paths of land grabbing (Reyes, 2009; CNMH, 2010; Ballvé, 2012; Grajales, 2011, 2013; Oliveira, 2013; Oxfam, 2013; Ybarra, 2013; CICIG, 2016). This eclectic stream of voices has brought attention to different colonial and exclusionary dynamics...