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Land Trafficking and the Fertile Spaces of Legality

Lambert, R; (2021) Land Trafficking and the Fertile Spaces of Legality. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research , 45 (1) pp. 21-38. 10.1111/1468-2427.12975. Green open access

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Abstract

Land trafficking, responsible for the unprecedented rate of urbanization in many Latin American cities, is often conceptualized through corruption as ‘abuses of public office for private gain’. While those involved in the practice rely at times on violence and illegality, their repertoire is sophisticated, allowing them to move in and out of legality as part of their cost–benefit calculations. In this article I argue that land trafficking is based on legalized corruption. I use an ethnographic approach to observe the strategic conduits that are technically embedded in, and opportunistically related to, different municipal processes to legalize illegality. I demonstrate how land traffickers use morphing possibilities between land tenure types (communal, private and government) and mimic development typologies that have gained legitimacy over time. I also show how conflicting, competing and humanitarian rationalities that characterize the state play a crucial role in promoting land trafficking, by grafting illegality and violations onto ‘formal’ practices.

Type: Article
Title: Land Trafficking and the Fertile Spaces of Legality
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/1468-2427.12975
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2427.12975
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2020 The Authors. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Urban Research Publications Limited. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: land trafficking, informal settlements, Lima, Peru, land markets, land tenure, legalized corruption, informality
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Development Planning Unit
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10101444
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