Owning Land, Appropriating Nature. The Configuration of an Agricultural Landscape in the Cauca River Valley, Southwestern Colombia, 1864 - 1901
Giraldo, Martin 1988-
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In the early 20th century, the Cauca River Valley in southwestern Colombia became an epicenter of agricultural modernization focused on sugarcane monoculture. Such an environmental transformation relied upon changing market demands, technological improvements, political disposition and a narrative created decades earlier by agents of 19th century liberal thinking. Politicians, scientists and travelers explained the valley’s agricultural history through a social and ecological paradox. They perceived that the exceptional natural richness of the valley’s landscape was misused by an inefficient agrarian structure ruled by the colonial manorial hacienda and its static pattern of land use based on cattle ranching. Far from being static and futile, the manorial hacienda system experienced fundamental changes in its socio-ecological performance throughout the second half of 19th century in strategic areas of the Cauca River Valley. The configuration of an agricultural landscape in the Cauca River Valley between 1864 and 1901 was the result of an encounter between several social groups with unequal opportunity to access productive land, diverse needs, and competing interests in using these lands. Traditional hacendados were forced to rethink the manorial productive logic and become hands-on farm managers in order to preserve their estates. Meanwhile, new settlers moved into the valley, some, such as foreign entrepreneurs, had the means to access fertile land and invest in agriculture. Others, such as landless peasants and the descendants of freed slaves, had almost nothing, but nonetheless acquired resources to sustain their communities. Focused on the Amaime River, a tributary of the Cauca River, this thesis explores the environmental and social background of land tenure dynamics in Colombian history.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeSmith-Norris, Martha; Handy, Jim; Robson, Jim; Keyworth, George
Copyright DateMay 2019
Environmental history, Agriculture, Land Tenure, Colombia, Hacienda