Socio-Environmental Changes in Latin America: Power, Participation and Governance

Course lecturer: Prof. Dr. Barbara Hogenboom
Period: 29 October - 17 December
Schedule: Monday at 13.00 - 16.00
Course load: 4 / 6 / 7.5 EC
Course ID: 180411056Y

This course familiarizes students with current academic debates on the effects of economic activities, political decisions and social conditions on the environment, and new trends of environmental governance in Latin America. Students will gain a better understanding of the contemporary complexities of 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. They learn to critically reflect on literature regarding power, participation and governance, and to connect this literature to current changes through a case-study group project.

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 recently 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 changes 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.

Form of instruction and assessment
The course consists of seven three-hour class meetings, including formal lectures, group discussions of the literature and student presentations.

Assignment and active participation in the meetings: 30%
Exam: 70%, 17 December, 13:00-16:00 hours.
Resit: on 28 January, 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 28 January 2019.
Please also consult the timetable on

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.
Boelens, R. et al. (2012) ‘Contested Territories: Water rights and the struggles over indigenous livelihoods’, International Indigenous Policy Journal 3(3): 1-15.

For the examination dates please consult the timetable on
Click here for the course description in the UvA Studiegids.

Registration and Participation

UvA Students
Students registered at the University of Amsterdam can register for the CEDLA courses through SIS.

Students registered at other Dutch universities
BA students that are registered at another Dutch university can register as a guest student Spanish Language and Culture (‘bijvakstudent Spaanse Taal en Cultuur’) at the University of Amsterdam in Studielink.

MA students that are registered at another Dutch university can register through our digital registration form.

Persons who are interested in our courses, but are not registered as students at a university, may participate in some courses under certain provisions. Those interested, should provide the secretariat with some information on their background, their background knowledge and their special interest in taking the course. Non-students can register for the courses through our digital registration form

If you have any questions, feel free to contact the CEDLA secretariat. We are open on weekdays from 9.00 to 17.00 hours.

Telephone: +31 20 525 3498

Picture: Silvia Carreno (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)