Northwestern Events Calendar


Policy Conflict and the Political Economy of Land Restitution in Colombia

When: Friday, March 1, 2024
12:15 PM - 1:45 PM CT

Where: Scott Hall, 212, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Ariel Sowers   (847) 491-7454

Group: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic


Please join the Comparative Politics Workshop as they host Laura García-Montoya, assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto, for a presentation titled “Policy Conflict and the Political Economy of Land Restitution in Colombia”

How do governments choose between competing policy goals? We argue that governments resolve policy conflict by exploiting the gap between policy design and policy implementation, which allows them to favor their preferred policy via covert strategies, including institutional layering and conversion. We test this argument by studying policy clashes between transitional justice mechanisms and development projects in contemporary Colombia. More specifically, we study the ethnic land restitution program—a central component of state-led transitional justice and peacebuilding mechanisms—that has faced clashes with mining activities since innovative institutions were established to promote justice for ethnic communities. How has the Colombian government reconciled these two policy goals? We analyze an original dataset of the universe of ethnic land restitution cases using process tracing and cross-case statistical analysis and show that the government subtly favored mining extraction over land restitution by adding new steps over old ones (layering) and reinterpreting original policy goals (conversion), thereby lengthening administrative proceedings (e.g., delays) and shrinking the scope of administrative and judicial decisions. Our paper highlights the complex interplay between transitional justice and existing institutional arrangements and the difficulties of reparation in contexts of historical and institutionalized exclusion of racialized communities. 

Laura García-Montoya is an Assistant Professor at The Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy at the University of Toronto. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor at Universidad del Rosario (Bogotá, Colombia) where she continues to be affiliated as an adjunct professor in the Department of Economics. Before becoming a Professor, she was a Visiting Fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Affairs at the University of Notre Dame and a Postdoctoral Researcher in The Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice and the Politics Department at Princeton University. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at Northwestern University, where I also completed an M.S. in Statistics. She completed M.A. and B.A. degrees in Economics from the University of Los Andes in her hometown Bogotá, Colombia. Her research interests are in comparative politics, public policy, and research methodologies. She investigates the political economy of inequalities in Latin America and its relationship with development and violence.

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