RUB Research School

Associate Doctoral Candidate Corinna Land

Faculty for Social Science

Struggles over Rural Futures: Contested Displacement in Paraguay

Neoliberal development and global capitalism challenge the rural lifeworlds of smallholders and landless people in Paraguay and shrink their spaces of economic and social reproduction.  However, contrary to a simplistic discourse of rural exodus, there are people who refuse to leave as well as young migrants who even return from urban destinations in Paraguay and abroad. This project seeks to understand why they struggle to stay in a place where they say themselves, “there is no future”.

The dissertation shows that there is more to return and staying put than nostalgic belonging or surrender to regimes of (im)mobility. It reconstructs how Paraguayan smallholders and landless workers attempt to shape agrarian change and negotiate spaces of possibility. Based on a multi-sited field research and led by the premises of Elias’ figurational sociology, the ethnography weaves together three research areas that are usually discussed separately: First, it explores practices and narratives of (im)mobility and asks how migrants and non-migrants negotiate belonging and the meanings and prospects of a rural vs urban way of life. Second, it looks at the relations between peasants and the neoliberal state as a contested source of hope and reveals patterns of de- and repoliticization of development. Third, it disentangles the contradictory figuration between peasants and the agribusiness, discussing the hope for jobs and growth as well as the fear of displacement both inherent in ‘soy futures’.

These three figurations are central to understand the negotiation of viable rural futures. The thesis integrates them by developing an analytical framework that is based on the twin notions of displacement and emplacement. Detaching them from the usual association with spatial mobility, the terms are defined here more broadly as dialectical processes by which modes of social reproduction are made and unmade. Following the data, the analysis focuses on contested changes in three dimensions of these processes: Security, belonging and hope(s). Being sensitive to the role of temporality, this approach helps to analyze shifting and sometimes surprising attachments to rural spaces and, more general, to better understand the interrelations between possibilities in the here and now, imaginations of the future, and agency.

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Eva Gerharz (RUB) & Prof. Dr. Heike Greschke (TU Dresden)

About Corinna Land

  • Development sociology and transnational migration
  • Land conflicts and displacement
  • Emplacement, hope and the (un)making of homes
  • Resistance, protest, peasant and labor movements
  • Regional focus: Latin America
Since 01/2024 Coordinator of internationalization and student advisor at the Faculty of Social Science, Ruhr University Bochum
Since 01/2021 Since 01/2021: Research Associate at the Fulda Graduate Centre of Social Sciences
Since 09/2017 PhD student at the Ruhr-University Bochum, Faculty of Social Science
11/2016 – 03/2020 Teaching assignments at the Faculty of Social Science, Ruhr University Bochum
11/2016 – 08/2017 Research associate at the chair “Sociology of Organization, Migration, Participation” at the Ruhr University Bochum
10/2009 – 09/2016 Bachelor's and Master's degree in social science at the Ruhr University Bochum including field research stays in Nicaragua, Mexico and the USA




(2021) “Desperate Aspirations among Paraguayan Youths: The Renegotiation of Migration and Rural Futures”. In: Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies 11 (2),

(2019): “Peripherie-Stichwort: Akkumulation durch Enteignung”. In: Peripherie 39(154/155): 292-295, DOI 10.3224/peripherie.v39i2.08.

(2019): "Produktivkraft Partizipation: Neue Potenziale durch Beteiligung erschließen", Literaturstudie im Auftrag der IG BCE.

(2017): “Uprooted Belonging: The Formation of a ‘Jumma Diaspora’ in New York City”, with Eva Gerharz. In: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2017.1373594.

(2015): „Akteurskonstellationen in Ressourcenkonflikten“, with Nina-Kathrin Wienkoop. Conference Report in: Wissenschaft und Frieden 2015 (4): 49-50.

“The State of Hope: Struggles over Rural Futures in Paraguay”: Presentation at the 10th CEISAL International Conference, University of Helsinki, 06/2022

“Hope and the Neoliberal State: Struggles over Rural Futures”: Presentation at the workshop Struggles for Hope: Negotiating the Future in Times of Global Crises, Fulda Graduate Centre of Social Sciences, 04/2022

“The (un)making of rural homes in times of neoliberal development”: lecture at the symposium “Making Home, Doing Belonging: Mobilities and Immobilities in Experience, Theory and Policy” of MIDEX (University of Central Lancashire) and HOMinG (University of Trento), 23-24 June 2021

“Coping with Displacement: Hope, Despair and (Im)mobility in Translocal Lifeworlds”, presentation at the IV ISA Forum of Sociology, 23-28 February 2021.

“Dealing with Displacement: Mobile Livelihoods at Contested Agrarian Frontiers”, poster presentation, 7th PhD Conference on International Development, Ruhr University Bochum, 8-9 November 2018.

“Belonging Uprooted: The Formation of a ‘Jumma Diaspora’ in New York City”, paper presentation (with Prof. Eva Gerharz), 24th European Conference on South Asian Studies, University of Warsaw, 29 July 2016.

11/2022 Organisation of the second Fulda International Autumn School “Mobilities and Human Rights“ at the Fulda Graduate Centre of Social Sciences (FGCSS), Hochschule Fulda (Teamkoordination)

04/2022 Organisation of the workshop “Struggles for Hope: Negotiating the Future in Times of Global Crises” at the Fulda Graduate Centre of Social Sciences FGCSS (with Anja Habersang).

11/2021 Organisation of the first Fulda International Autumn School “Global Inequalities and Human Rights” at the Fulda Graduate Centre of Social Sciences FGCSS.

11/2019 Organization of the international conference “Forced Migration in Transition: Perspectives from Social Science and Law” (with Benedikt Behlert, UK Mong Marma, and Robin Ramsahye).

07/2015 Organization of the workshop “The State and Beyond: Actor Constellations in Resource Conflicts” of the AK Natur-Ressourcen-Konflikte (with Nina-Katrin Wienkoop and Annegret Kuhn).

Since 03/2020 Associated PhD student at the Fulda Graduate Centre of Scoial Sciences
Since 11/2019  Associated PhD student at the Institute of Development Research and Development Policy
Since 09/2017 Fellow of the Sylff Mikrokolleg „Forced Migration“
07/2017 – 11/2020  PhD Grant of the Tokyo Foundation as fellow of the Sylff-Mirokolleg “Forced Migration”
01/2019 – 04/2019 Sylff Research Abroad grant for field research in Repatriación, Paraguay, and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
11/2017     RUB Student Award for the best thesis at the Faculty of Social Science in 2017
04/2011 – 09/2016 Scholarship of the Rosa-Luxemburg Foundation, including grants for field research in Nicaragua (3 months) and the USA (3 months)
02/2014 – 04/2014 PROMOS research grant (DAAD) for a research internship at the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla in Puebla, Mexico
Winter term 2020/21 B.A. seminar: „Migration and Development”, Fulda University of Applied Sciences
  Writeshop for doctoral students: “Peer-Workshop: Writing a Dissertation“, Fulda University of Applied Sciences
  M.A. seminar: „Beyond the Nation State? Introduction to the sociology of transnationalization“, Ruhr-University Bochum
Winter term 2019/20  B.A. seminar: „Globalization and Social Inequality” (with Anja Habersang), Fulda University of Applied Sciences
Winter term 2017/18 M.A. seminar “Migration and Development in the Americas”, Ruhr University Bochum
Summer term 2017 M.A. seminar “Trade Unions as Organizations – Global Challenges and Strategic Change in International Comparison”, Ruhr University Bochum
Winter term 2016/17 Research training for M.A. students “Civil Society and Municipalities”, Ruhr University Bochum



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