Course lecturers: Dr. Barbara Hogenboom (coordinator)
Dr. Fabio de Castro with Prof. dr. Michiel Baud and
Prof. dr. Rutgerd Boelens
Tel./mail: 020 525 3383 /
Period: 31 October – 19 December 2016
Time: Monday 13:00 – 16:00 hours
Course load: 6 EC (can be extended to 9 EC)
Max. participants: 25

MA 1. SOCIO-ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES IN LATIN AMERICA: Power, participation and governance

Latin America holds large reserves of renewable and non-renewable resources and is a major global supplier of energy, metals, foodstuffs and environmental services. Historically the countries in the region have not been successful in managing their natural resources in a sustainable, productive and equitable way.

While some progressive governments have tried to change that trend, the intensification of extractive activities (e.g. mining, oil drilling and the production of soya and biofuels) and related large projects (infrastructure, hydro-electricity) leads to a growing number of problems. At the local level, often conflicts occur about access and control over land, water, forests and other resources, due to the growing tension between large-scale rural development and (indigenous and non-indigenous) peasant livelihoods and their small-scale local management. Other conflicts occur when central governments and/or multinational companies ignore socio-environmental demands from civil society and criminalize activists. At the same time, socio-environmental challenges may also give way to new partnerships and new social movements. Some recent struggles and initiatives have resulted in social empowerment and more inclusive and sustainable development. This dual process takes place in a complex political context of neoliberalism and post-neoliberalism, de- and recentralization and Latin America’s globalization and regionalization. This course addresses the effects of economic activities, political decisions and social conditions on the environment, and new trends of environmental governance in Latin America. The course will focus on formal and informal arrangements, interactions among state, private sector and civil society actors, and cross-scale connections from communities to the national, regional and global levels. The lectures will address current trends and initiatives. Special attention will also be paid to local governance.

Form of instruction and assessment
The course consists of three-hour class meetings, including formal lectures, group discussions of the literature and student presentations. Grades will be based on the student’s exam (75%) and an assignment and active participation in the meetings (25%). The exam takes place on 19 December, 13:00-16:00 hours. There is one resit possible: on 16 January 2017, 13:00-16:00 hours. The course can be extended with 1.5 or 3 EC by writing a paper based on additional academic literature. The paper (of 2500 or 5000 words) is to be handed in by 30 January 2017.


The complete list of required literature, consisting of a selection of book chapters and articles (around 500 pages), will be announced on the website two months in advance. This course and the literature are firmly based on recent research of the professors, especially:

- Castro, F. de, Hogenboom, B. and Baud, M. (eds) (2016) Environmental Governance in Latin America: Changing Images, Interactions and Institutions, Palgrave Macmillan.
- Castro, F. de, van Dijck, P and Hogenboom, B. (2014) The Extraction and Conservation of Natural Resources in Latin America: Recent trends and challenges, Cuadernos del CEDLA, no. 27.

Some other key texts that will be included are:

- Boelens, R. et al. (2012) ‘Contested Territories: Water rights and the struggles over indigenous livelihoods’, International Indigenous Policy Journal 3(3): 1-15.
- Borras Jr., S. M., et al. (2012) Land grabbing in Latin America and the Caribbean, The Journal of Peasant Studies, 39:3-4, 845-872.
- Gudynas, E. (2011) ‘Buen Vivir: Today’s tomorrow’, Development, 2011, 54(4), pp. 441– 447.
- Silva, E.. 2012. Environment and Sustainable Development. In: P. Kingstone and D.J. Yashar (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Latin American Politics. New York: Routledge. Pp.181-199.
- Zimmerer, K.S. 2011. “Conservation booms” with agricultural growth? Sustainability and shifting environmental governance in Latin America 1985-2008 (Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia). Latin American Research Review 46, pp. 82-114.

Picture: Oriana Eliçabe. Chiapas, México (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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