Sol Mora is a postdoctoral fellow of the Argentina’s National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) at School of Politics and Government, National University of San Martín. She holds a PhD in Social Sciences from the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO-Argentina). Her research focus on the implications of land governance in China’s land grabbing through infrastructure investments in Argentina. Moreover, land grabbing was the topic of her thesis for the Master Degree of International Integration and Cooperation (Universidad Nacional de Rosario) and the thesis for the B.A. in International Relations (Universidad Abierta Interramericana).
China’s land grabbing in Argentina through infrastructure investments and land governance. Towards a typology of mechanisms
Land governance was relatively absent of the intense academic debate about land grabbing mechanisms. As a consequence, the centrality of the power relations between different actors at multiple scales that shape the access, use and control of land was overshadowed. Similarly, although China became one of the largest land investors, the simultaneity of this dynamic with the massive arrival of Chinese infrastructure investments to Latin American countries has not been yet explored. This paper analyzes the incidence of land governance in Argentina on land control by China through infrastructure investments. With this purpose, three ambitious Chinese infrastructure projects in different argentine provinces are studied: the Beidahung Group agri-food project in Río Negro; the La Paz-Estacas aqueduct and the irrigation in Mandisoví Chico in Entre Ríos; and the Kirchner-Cepernic hydroelectric dams in Santa Cruz. The article argues that there is not a direct and linear relation between China’s infrastructure investments and land grabbing, rather it is determined by land governance in Argentina. Thus, the mechanisms by which infrastructure investments led to land control are conditioned by the conflictive relations of material, discursive and institutional power constitutive of land governance. The first part of the paper develops a critical approach to land governance based on the neogramscian perspective of International Political Economy and Political Ecology. The second section characterizes the extractive condition of land governance in Argentina and presents the Chinese infrastructure investments selected. This is followed by an analysis of the material, discursive and institutional power relations that shape land governance and its relation with the entry of Chinese investments. Finally, a typology is developed to explain the China’s land grabbing mechanisms implicated in each case.
Affiliation: National University of San Martin