10 big questions on land grabs

1.  How are deals initiated upstream? (Melissa Leach)

Are deals dreamed up in boardrooms, investment fora, or other closed-door arenas?  How can this process be opened up, for example by investigative journalism or insider observation?  We need to take a hard look at both the politics of speculation in land, and the different ways in which it’s thought about (‘imagined’) – and the ways these different ‘imaginaries’ conflict with each other.

2.  Who are the brokers in these deals? (Melissa Leach)

Many land deals are brokered by knowledgable local actors and new intermediary firms. The category of “knowledgeable local actor” is on the rise in West Africa, for example.

3.  When is a grab not a grab? (Melissa Leach)

The land grab debate has matured quickly, so it’s time for us to assess whether the term “land grabbing” is a useful analytical category.

4.  Is justice compatible with land and resource deals? (Melissa Leach)

Are there certain circumstances where land deals can work for justice?

5.  What kind of reform is adequate?  What is good reform? (Sam Moyo)

There is no socialist revolution in the resistances we’ve been seeing.  The alternatives today are different than the alternatives posited a generation ago — the range is wide.

6.  Are we looking at a single phenomenon or multiple processes? (Lorenzo Cotula)

Perhaps both of these views are appropriate at different times – it can be helpful to think of “global land grabbing”, but this big picture can obscure diverse processes happening on a smaller scale.

7.  Is the fault line in this debate mainly about scale, or control? (Lorenzo Cotula)

The scramble for land is also about a scramble for control – often, political control.

8.  What is the role of research? (Lorenzo Cotula)

How do researchers make a difference and engage? The link between evidence and action could, in some cases, be made stronger.

9.  As a result of big land grabs, is there a major reconfiguration of the markets? (Sam Moyo)

Are we seeing a new definition of state-market relations?

10.  What is behind the unprecedented “rush” for land? (Tania Li)

The land grab phenomenon could be spoken of as a “rush” for land, which would put it in line with other “rushes” in history: sudden, visible, over-hyped. In many cases, this is a conjuring trick, using promises, statistics and dramatic graphs to create the illusion of spectacular profits.

For more blogs, updates and papers from the conference, visit the Global Land Grabbing conference website.

Photo: Land Grabbing in Uganda by foei on Flickr (by-nc-nd)