Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Resource Economics

Dissertation of Jes Weigelt

Reforming Development Trajectories? Institutional Change of Forest Tenure in the Brazilian Amazon

Start: January 06
End: August 11

The project analyses trajectories and outcomes of five agrarian reform projects which aim at regularising smallholders’ land rights in the Brazilian Amazon. The agrarian reform projects are situated in Western Pará. Here, highly degrading resource use patterns and increasing levels of income inequality go hand in hand. To understand the processes that give rise to this pattern and the agrarian reform initiatives to counter it, I applied a “grounded” approach to institutional analysis. Data gathering occurred in the period 2006 – 2008 in close co-operation with municipal civil society partners. Principal research methods applied are interviews with open-ended questions, participant observation and a selection of participatory appraisal techniques. Data analysis builds on an iterative approach and an ongoing dialogue between empirical insights and theoretical work. Critical Realism serves as the meta-theoretical basis. Within the overall approach of Political Ecology project builds on Institutional Economics to conceptualise these dynamics of agrarian change. It focuses on the role of power in the process of land rights regularisation, the embeddedness of actors in social relations which influence access, and the path-dependent nature of access to land.

Researcher: Weigelt, Jes

Cooperation Partners: Universidade Federal Rural da Amazônia (UFRA), Albert-Ludwigs Universität Freiburg, Institute of Silviculture (ForLive (

Advisors: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Konrad Hagedorn

Funding: Scholarship by the Evangelischen Studienwerks e.V. Villigst