Land Grabs as ‘Shrinking Spaces’ for Civil Society?

Land Grabs as ‘Shrinking Spaces’ for Civil Society?

by Louisa Prause, Freie Universität Berlin

The term ‘shrinking spaces’ describes state actions that aim to restrict civil societies’ activities. In this article I investigate in how far spaces for civil society action are also influenced by changes in land control by looking at two cases of large-scale land transformations in Senegal. Read more

Improving Tenure Governance: Experiences from Multilateral Partnerships in Sierra Leone

Improving Tenure Governance: Experiences from Multilateral Partnerships in Sierra Leone

by Sandra Koch, Green Scenery/AGEH-Civil Peace Service
Christian Schulze, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone, the livelihoods of the majority of the population, particularly the rural poor, are based on secure and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests. Increasing pressure on these resources in the last decade alongside their highly unequal distribution have contributed to disputes and conflict over access and user rights, which were already a key driver of the Sierra Leone civil war from 1991-2002. Read more

Energy Transitions Revisited: The Material and Socio-Political Dimensions of Renewable Energy Technologies

Energy Transitions Revisited: The Material and Socio-Political Dimensions of Renewable Energy Technologies

by Linda Wallbott & Judith Kreuter, Institute of Political Science / Technische Universität Darmstadt

Renewable energies are often regarded as a silver bullet to abundant social and ecological problems, amongst them the rising energy-hunger and the challenges of anthropogenic climate change. However, the transition towards renewable energies is paved with conflict – be they discursive contestation, resource competition (including access to land), or concerning policy aims and trade-offs. Read more

“Land grab” or global public problem? The conceptual challenges of a research object in vogue

“Land grab” or global public problem? The conceptual challenges of a research object in vogue

Sina Schlimmer, Sciences Po Bordeaux, Les Afriques dans le Monde

Questions arising from the phenomenon of the “global land grab” have been shaping the agendas of NGOs, World Bank conferences and academic seminars for about a decade. The publications dedicated to this hot topic are nearly uncountable. This ongoing discussion about a seemingly new wave of large-scale agricultural investments by international companies in countries of the Global South poses several methodological and conceptual challenges for scholars. Basing on the results of my PhD research, this article invites to reconsider the hype on “land grabbing” as a public problem which is constructed on different levels. Read more

The enforced expansion of extractive frontiers: struggles over power, meaning and knowledge

The enforced expansion of extractive frontiers: struggles over power, meaning and knowledge

Dr. Cristina Espinosa, Arnold Bergstraesser Institute, Freiburg

Fabricio Rodríguez, University of Jena

The extraction of natural resources has intensified and expanded since the 1990s, gaining greater significance as a disputed field of social and political tensions since the turn of the century. While some actors compete over access to and control of natural resources, others emphasize the urgency to reverse the exponential expansion of extractive activities. Conflicts over the uneven distribution of risks and benefits associated to the exploration and production of resources have proliferated accordingly. Read more

Who is the “real” farmer? Contestation in the Committee on World Food Security

Who is the “real” farmer? Contestation in the Committee on World Food Security

by Annette Schramm, University of Tübingen, Germany

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) might not be the most well-known institution in global governance, but it is of high relevance when it comes to issues of food security, land governance or the future of agriculture. Thanks to a Civil Society Mechanism (CSM), which is unparalleled within the UN system, civil society plays an important and very active role in this forum. Yet, this space has come under threat recently when a seemingly new player took the stage – the World Farmers Organization (WFO). In the struggle for legitimacy within the CFS, both civil society and the WFO claim to represent “the farmers”. But who is the “real” farmer?

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Framing identity in contestations over land in post-repatriation settings: The case of southern Burundi

Framing identity in contestations over land in post-repatriation settings: The case of southern Burundi

by Rosine Tchatchoua-Djomo, Leiden University, the Netherlands

The shift from violence to peace in Burundi has been marked by heavy contestations over land as a result of mass displacement and repatriation (see Kamungi, Oketch & Huggins, 2005). To facilitate policy-making, these land disputes have been framed by different (inter-)national actors as opposing two major camps: repatriates vs occupants. In this dichotomist representation, repatriates refer mainly to former Hutu civilians who fled mass violence perpetrated by former Tutsi-dominated ruling regimes; while occupants involve civilians who took over refugees’ land in their prolonged absence. Yet, these land disputes are much more complex than that. Read more

Same same but different… Challenges in the research on traditional authorities

Same same but different… Challenges in the research on traditional authorities

by Sarah Kirst, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

A small village in the northern part of Ghana: Together with my research assistant and eleven other men – the elders of the village – I am sitting in the shade of a big sheanut tree. Shortly before I already made a courtesy call on the chief of the village. I paid him my respect by presenting him the obligatory drinks money before asking him for his permission concerning the upcoming interviews with his elders. These days he is old and fragile. Yet, few years earlier he was the one who decided – in consultation with his elders – to lease out thousands of hectares of community land to a Norwegian company. Read more