Panel 21: OVERVIEW – Evaluating options: opportunity or danger?

This panel will consider narratives, arguments and methodologies for investigating the significance and impacts of land deals – rather than focusing on particular empirical case studies. Four contributors tackle this in different ways.

Da Via questions the presumptions about „national development? that underpin critiques of allocation of land to foreign investors, as well as the discourses of ‘marginal’ land and attempts to incorporate smallholders in commodity chains, all of which rest of linear and modernist notions of development. Zoomers calls for a reframing of the land grab debate, beyond the FAO and World Bank proposals for regulation, and suggests a historical and wider agenda for research. Harley and Hellin critique the existing literature on the impacts of land deals for lacking rigour, and propose criteria and a method for exploring tradeoffs for assessing different investment regimes. With reference to Brazil, Corbera et al consider two narratives employed in analysis of land grabs, argues that the empirical basis for each of these is weak (and criteria are ill-defined) and propose a ‘resilience’ framework as a basis for assessing the impacts of land deals.

Chair: Thomas Sikor, University of East Anglia

Abdirizak Arale Nunow