Global Land Grabs: History, Theory and Method, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Global Land Grabs

History, Theory and Method, 1st Edition

Edited by Marc Edelman, Carlos Oya, Saturnino M. Borras Jr.


242 pages

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Since the 2008 world food crisis a surge of land grabbing swept Africa, Asia and Latin America and even some regions of Europe and North America. Investors have uprooted rural communities for massive agricultural, biofuels, mining, industrial and urbanisation projects. ‘Water grabbing’ and ‘green grabbing’ have further exacerbated social tensions.

Early analyses of land grabbing focused on foreign actors, the biofuels boom and Africa, and pointed to catastrophic consequences for the rural poor. Subsequently scholars carried out local case studies in diverse world regions. The contributors to this volume advance the discussion to a new stage, critically scrutinizing alarmist claims of the first wave of research, probing the historical antecedents of today’s land grabbing, examining large-scale land acquisitions in light of international human rights and investment law, and considering anew longstanding questions in agrarian political economy about forms of dispossession and accumulation and grassroots resistance.

Readers of this collection will learn about the impacts of land and water grabbing; the relevance of key theorists, including Marx, Polanyi and Harvey; the realities of China’s involvement in Africa; how contemporary land grabbing differs from earlier plantation agriculture; and how social movements—and rural people in general—are responding to this new threat.

This book was published as a special issue of Third World Quarterly.

Table of Contents

1. Global Land Grabs: historical processes, theoretical and methodological implications and current trajectories 2. The Land Rush and Classic Agrarian Questions of Capital and Labour: a systematic scoping review of the socioeconomic impact of land grabs in Africa 3. Land Grabbing, Large- and Small-scale Farming: what can evidence and policy from 20th century Africa contribute to the debate? 4. Primitive Accumulation, Accumulation by Dispossession and the Global Land Grab 5. The New Enclosures? Polanyi, international investment law and the global land rush 6. Human Rights Responses to Land Grabbing: a right to food perspective 7. The Global Politics of Water Grabbing 8. Green Dreams: Myth and Reality in China’s Agricultural Investment in Africa 9. Cycles of Land Grabbing in Central America: an argument for history and a case study in the Bajo Aguán, Honduras 10. Global Land Grabbing and Political Reactions ‘From Below’

About the Editors

Marc Edelman is professor of anthropology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York.

Carlos Oya is Reader in Political Economy of Development at SOAS, University of London.

Saturnino M Borras Jr is an associate professor at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague, The Netherlands.

About the Series


THIRDWORLDS will focus on the political economy, development and cultures of those parts of the world that have experienced the most political, social, and economic upheaval, and which have faced the greatest challenges of the postcolonial world under globalisation: poverty, displacement and diaspora, environmental degradation, human and civil rights abuses, war, hunger, and disease.

THIRDWORLDS serves as a signifier of oppositional emerging economies and cultures ranging from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East, and even those ‘Souths’ within a larger perceived North, such as the U.S. South and Mediterranean Europe. The study of these otherwise disparate and discontinuous areas, known collectively as the Global South, demonstrates that as globalisation pervades the planet, the south, as a synonym for subalterity, also transcends geographical and ideological frontiers.

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