Land grabs: getting the facts right

jps_green_grabs_250As part of its series on global land deals, The Journal of Peasant Studies has released a collection of 5 new articles on the problem of recording accurate and reliable information on global land deals. The edition includes contributions from Future Agricultures members Ian Scoones and Ruth Hall, (joint Southern Africa hub co-ordinator and Land theme convenor).

Here’s the description from the JPS:

“The recent ‘land rush’ precipitated by the convergent ‘crises’ of fuel, feed and food in 2007–08 has heightened the debate on the consequences of land investments. This ‘land rush’ has been accompanied by a ‘literature rush’, with a fast-growing body of reports, articles, tables and books with varied purposes, metrics and methods.

Land grabbing remains a hot political topic around the world, discussed amongst the highest circles.

This is why getting the facts right is important and having effective methodologies for doing so is crucial. Several global initiatives have been created to aggregate information on land deals, and to describe their scale, character and distribution. All have contributed to building a bigger (if not always better) picture of the phenomenon, but all have struggled with methodology. This JPS Forum identifies uncertainty about what it is that is being counted, questions the methods used to collate and aggregate ‘land grabs’, and calls for a land grab research which abandons the aim of deriving total numbers of hectares in favour of more specific, grounded and transparent methods.”

The articles can be accessed free of charge for a limited period by following this link to the Taylor & Francis website.

Table of contents:

  • The politics of evidence: methodologies for understanding the global land rush
    by Ian Scoones, Ruth Hall, Saturnino M. Borras Jr, Ben White & Wendy Wolford
  • Messy hectares: questions about the epistemology of land grabbing data
    by Marc Edelman
  • Methodological reflections on ‘land grab’ databases and the ‘land grab’ literature ‘rush’
    by Carlos Oya
  • Creating a public tool to assess and promote transparency in global land deals: the experience of the Land Matrix
    by Ward Anseeuw, Jann Lay, Peter Messerli, Markus Giger, and Michael Taylor
  • Collating and dispersing: GRAIN’s strategies and methods
    by Grain

This is the second part of the JPS Forum on Global Land Grabbing – Part 1 is here.

Other articles from the Journal of Peasant Studies

The JPS has made 40 articles from its back catalogue freely available online to mark its 40th anniversary – visit the Journal’s website to download them (free registration required).