“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

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