Market-oriented agrarian restructuring in Latin America has generated massive land dispossession characterized by a shift from (1) publicly-, indigenously- and family-owned land used for subsistence food production and sale in local markets to (2) land used for large-scale industry, including agribusiness, mining, fossil fuel exploration and extraction, tourism, and infrastructure construction. The central research objective of this project is to discover the nature, prevalence and core patterns in the relationship between land dispossession and paramilitary and/or state violence in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador. Through semi-structured interviews, focus groups, review of academic and non-academic literature as well as analysis of primary documents, the project aims to capture the various alignments of state and non-state armed actors in processes of resource appropriation, dispossession as well as repression and disarticulation of movements of resistance. For this project, Dr. Hristov is leading an international team consisting of three collaborators, three research assistants, and a documentary filmmaker. So far we carried out 100 interviews and several focus groups.

Engagement with Government and Private Sector STAKEHOLDERS

In addition to scholarly contributions, the intended outcomes of the project “Violence and Land Dispossession in Central America and Mexico” include: 1) informing policy-makers, governments and the private sector in Canada and the countries under investigation; and 2) proposing policies and possible kinds of economic linkages with these countries that can contribute to reducing violence.

Participatory Research Methodologies

The project “Violence and Land Dispossession in Central America and Mexico” adopts a participatory methodology model which takes as a starting point the needs of communities affected by violence and tries to address these at every stage of the knowledge creation process including, research design, fieldwork, data analysis, and knowledge dissemination while promoting a horizontal relationship between academics and participants. To this end, one of the intended outcomes of the project is the production of a documentary entitled “Land Wars, Dispossession and Resistance in Latin America”. Furthermore, the project has been used as a platform for facilitating a South-South solidarity by creating an opportunity for communication and exchange between two land-rights movements – from the Aguan region of Honduras and Chiapas, Mexico, whose members have been facing violence related to land disputes, land occupations, forced evictions, and abuses by state and non-state forces in their respective countries.