The Junior Research Group “Global change – local conflicts? Land conflicts in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, in the context of interdependent transformation processes” (GLOCON) deals with the relationships between global processes and land conflicts. It asks what is the influence of spatial and temporal transformations provoked by global processes in conflicts over land in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, and it searches for possible explanations for this. To achieve this, the research group analyzes comparatively different countries in sub-Saharan Africa (Burkina Faso, Ghana) and Latin America (Colombia, Brazil, Argentina). The core research questions are 1) What are the links between the changes in the use and control of land and conflicts? 2) What can mediation mechanisms produce specific conflict dynamics? 3) What other approaches exist towards a constructive transformation in land conflicts?
In the case of Colombia, Dr. Kristina Dietz studies the current conflicts in the gold and coal mining industry. These conflicts are present since the mid-2000’s, with the backdrop of a sharp increase in prices of commodities in the world market. Because of this, there was a quick increase in the territorial expansion of mining activities on indigenous lands and small rural communities, that were previously considered unprofitable for commodity extraction.
Because of this expansion process, there have been forcible displacements and threats to local ways of life, as well as to the rights to self-determination in these territories, which in turn generates new land conflicts. The research also considers the current peace processes and its impact on these conflict dynamics and the actors participating in them. At the heart of this, are the historically determined social and political structures, the actors and their practices, public policies, discourses, and institutions. The goal of this research is to formulate, sustained on empirical evidence, conclusions about the interrelations between the changes in the uses and control of land and conflicts, and the development of theoretical premises that explain these interrelations.