Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Thomas A. Perreault


campesinos, Colombia, Ordenamiento Ambiental Territorial, Ordenamiento Territorial, peasants, Zonas de Reserva Campesina

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This thesis is an intersection between political ecology, rural development and agrarian studies. It examines the Peasant Reserve Zone (ZRC) as a land planning designation in Colombia created in the 1990s as part of the Colombian state’s effort at agrarian reform, and the expressions of Ordenamiento Ambiental Territorial (glossed as environmental land use planning), by the state and the peasants as ways of constructing territory. Beginning by situating the emergence of the ZRC as part of the classic agrarian question of the fate of the peasantry in capitalism, it then intersects that political-economy perspective with a geographic approach to the concept of territory. The establishment of the political technology of Ordenamiento Territorial and its environmental version, Ordenamiento Ambiental Territorial are analyzed together with the arrival of neoliberalism in the 1990s in Colombia. Using a political ecology lens, Ordenamiento Ambiental Territorial is dissected by searching the current meaning of environment from its roots in the meanings of nature and particularly with the production of nature under capitalism. Finally, through three perspectives on development, this thesis analyzes diverse forms of development planning in the ZRC (Sustainable Development Plans of each ZRC, results of the ZRC pilot project financed by the World Bank, and fieldwork results) to examine cross-cutting issues of environmental governance in the ZRC including participation, expectations and imaginaries of the state, the ZRC and “the peasant community”. The main message of this work is that ZRC peasants are not only claiming land rights but are demanding a recognition of territory through their engagements with Ordenamiento Territorial, their uses of Ordenamiento Ambiental Territorial and their participation in development planning.