The territorial turn: Making black territories in Pacific Colombia

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107 Scopus citations


Over the last decade, a wide range of global forces have combined to promote the territorial titling of collective lands to indigenous and black communities in the lowland tropics of Latin America. This marks an unprecedented turn in land titling and reform in the hemisphere. In this paper, I describe the territorial turn in collective land titling in the Pacific region of Colombia. In particular, I describe the World Bank-funded Natural Resource Management Program's effort to demarcate and title some 5 million hectares of national lands to black community councils in Pacific Colombia since 1996. In so doing, I examine how environmental, human rights, and multilateral lending interests have come together over the last few decades to strengthen ethnic rights to collective lands throughout the Latin American lowlands. Although it is too early to make definitive assessments, I argue that the machinations of the World Bank-funded project interacted in very complex and significant ways with how black social movements instituted a novel ethnic-territorial relationship. The project has widespread implications for black and indigenous territorial aspirations throughout the lowland tropics and for better understanding how identity and territory constitute one another.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-73
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Latin American Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Pacific Colombia
  • Rural blacks
  • Territory
  • World Bank

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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