This talk will be presented by CSH visitor Victoria Junquera (Princeton University) and will take place on Wednesday, June 1st at 3pm at the Complexity Science Hub.
Title: Crop booms as regime shifts (and other land system stories)
This work analyzes land systems as complex systems. In particular, it examines “crop booms” – rapid localized instances of agricultural expansion, frequently occurring in agriculture-forest frontiers – through a land regime shift lens. Land regime shifts are interesting because they involve rapid, profound and lasting changes in social as well as in ecological systems – i.e., they are socio-ecological transformations. Based on empirical evidence of rubber and banana plantation expansion in northern Laos, this work employs a regime shifts lens to identify the triggers, self-reinforcing mechanisms, preconditions, and tipping mechanisms that explain the characteristic dynamics of crop booms, such as their unpredictability, nonlinearity, speed, intensity, contagion-like pattern, and hysteresis. I argue that a complex system/regime shift perspective is helpful for understanding the puzzling dynamics of land-use and socio-ecological transformations under crop booms and offers insights for land system governance and modeling. Furthermore, I show that social influence, collective behavior, and socio-technical factors – i.e., social dynamics – are at the heart of boom dynamics.
If there is time, I will also briefly present some early stage work on markets (“The market will come”, based on conversations with farmers and what influences their adoption decisions) as well as land and water governance dilemmas in southern Spain’s Mediterranean Basin, which has become Europe’s largest exporter of tropical (!) fruit and has undergone an avocado boom in recent decades.