Land use, cooperativism and migration in Costa Rica

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Dr. Leila Rodriguez

Assistant Professor Anthropology
McMicken College of Arts and Sciences
+1 (513) 556-5783

Recent worldwide economic crises have fueled debate on forms of development and economic success that stand as alternatives to market/private and state/public ownership and management of resources. One model that is resurfacing involves the proliferation of cooperatives, community organizations that are fully run by their members, with equal participation in investment, gains and losses. The importance of cooperativism is evidenced by the United Nations’ designation of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives. This initiative intends to “raise public awareness of the invaluable contributions of cooperative enterprises to poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration” (United Nations 2012). Concurrently, international migration continues to be a central global concern, also directly related to poverty, employment and integration. Theories about the causes of international migration have coalesced to understand contemporary migration as a consequence of socioeconomic globalization. In rural areas, emigration is known to be an often-employed strategy to adapt to changing economic conditions. Nonetheless, surprisingly little research directly addresses the local, national and international conditions that generate migration, at what cost and for whose benefit. This project will fill that gap by focusing on the role of cooperatives in mediating changes in local rural production caused by global economic change. Given their purported role in local socioeconomic development, cooperatives have the potential to reduce the incentives for emigration and influence the investment of immigrant remittances in production activities. The project will take place over three phases (totaling 25 months) in two traditionally coffee-growing communities in Costa Rica that were similarly affected by a recent and severe worldwide decline in the price of coffee, but that exhibit different rates of emigration, cooperativism and alternative forms of production.

Project commenced on July 1, 2010

Target Countries

Collaborative Institutions