Birgit Schmook, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Mexico

Birgit Schmook is engaged in a large range of research activities focused on the theme of human-environment relationships. Her research interests range from smallholder farming behavior in Mexico, with focus on shifting cultivation systems, labor out-migration and its relationship to environmental change in southern Mexico and Nicaragua, drivers and magnitude of tropical deforestation, social and physical impacts of large scale natural disturbances and more recently food security and land tenure regimes. A significant portion of her work combines natural, human and remote sensing/geographical information sciences to address problems of human-environment systems, including cultural and political ecology, land change science, and global environmental and climate change.




Hunger and Land in Neoliberal Nicaragua: the Collision of Past and Present

Despite Nicaragua’s considerable improvements in average calorie intake and the incidence of poverty since 1990, 23% of the population is still chronically undernourished. After the Sandinista revolution, most cooperative lands were privatized by subsequent neoliberal governments and distributed among members. Many ex-cooperativistas, left without state support for agriculture, sold their land shares. Other communities, without access to communal or private land, are still dependent on big landowners to rent or lend them a miniscule plot for subsistence production. This paper uses data from focus group discussions, household surveys, and in-depth interviews with residents of two case study villages in the Department of Madriz in 2014–2015. One village is a former Sandinista cooperative and the other a remote village caught in feudal agrarian structures, and both suffer from severe lack of food. In both cases, food insecurity has been caused by inequities in land assets and a lack of entitlements in the neoliberal context.