This article attempts to understand how control over land (power in practice) is built, achieved and contested in the context of land transfers involving pressures over possession rights in Santiago del Estero in northern Argentina. Here new forms of land control – due to expansion of the speculative, soy and cattle frontiers – are changing and involve new relationships while using novel mechanisms to gain and maintain control. The article adopts the notion of shifting ‘frontiers of land control’ as an analytical lens, following Lund and Peluso (2011). We can say that the process of soy and cattle expansion into the new frontiers happens through a group of different mechanisms which range from voluntary purchase to violent evictions. As shifts in land control in the frontier involve pressures on possession rights, we observe different mechanisms of control, mainly in the direction of dispossession and enclosure. The paper adds to the debate on ‘land grabbing’ by (a) showing how domestic investors operate to advance industrial agriculture and (b) showing how this frontier advances in a context of (rather unsecured) possession rights where rights are being shifted through transfers (sales, leases, evictions) and compensation mechanisms as well as conflict and judicial procedures.
- land control
- land grab