The Global Land Grab

Beyond the Hype

Annelies Zoomers and Mayke Kaag


A revealing and comprehensive analysis of one of the most contentious issues surrounding North-South global relations.
The last two years have seen a huge amount of academic, policy-making and media interest in the increasingly contentious issue of land grabbing - the large-scale acquisition of land in the global South. It is a phenomenon against which locals seem defenceless, and one about which multilateral organizations, such as the World Bank, as well as civil-society organizations and action NGOs have become increasingly vocal.

This in-depth and empirically diverse volume - taking in case studies from across Africa, Asia and Latin America - takes a step back from the hype to explore a number of key questions: Does the ‘global land grab’ actually exist? If so, what is new about it? And what, beyond the immediately visible dynamics and practices, are the real problems?

A comprehensive and much-needed intervention on one of the most hotly contested but little-understood issues facing countries of the South today.

Author Bio

Mayke Kaag is a social anthropologist and a senior researcher at the African Studies Centre in Leiden, the Netherlands. Within the African Studies Centre she is the convenor of a collaborative research group on Africa in the World: Rethinking Africa’s Global Connections.

Annelies Zoomers is professor of international development studies (IDS) at Utrecht University and chair of LANDac. She has published extensively on sustainable livelihoods, land policies and the impact of privatization, tourism and international migration.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: the global land grab hype - and why it is important to move beyond - Mayke Kaag and Annelies Zoomers
  • Part I: Africa
    • 1. Modernizing the periphery: citizenship and Ethiopia's new agricultural investment policies - George Schoneveld and Maru Shete
    • 2. Large-scale land acquisitions in Tanzania: a critical analysis of practices and dynamics - Jumanne Abdallah, Linda Engström, Kjell Havnevik and Lennart Salomonsson
    • 3. Kenya and the 'global land grab: a view from below - Jacqueline M. Klopp and Odenda Lumumba
  • Part II: Latin America
    • 4. The rapid expansion of genetically modified soy production into the Chaco region of Argentina - Lucia Goldfarb and Annelies Zoomers
    • 5. Transnational land investment in Costa Rica: tracing residential tourism and its implications for development - Femke van Noorloos
    • 6. Water grabbing in the Andean region: illustrative cases from Peru and Ecuador - Rutgerd Boelens, Antonio Gaybor and Jan Hendriks
  • Part III: Asia
    • 7. Land governance and oil palm development: examples from Riau Province, Indonesia - Ari Susanti and Suseno Budidarsono
    • 8. Vietnam in the debate on land grabbing: conversion of agricultural land for urban expansion and hydropower development - Pham Huu Ty, Nguyen Quang Phuc and Guus van Westen
    • 9. 'Land grabbing' in Cambodia: land rights in a post-conflict setting - Michelle McLinden Nuijen, Men Prachvuthy and Guus van Westen
    • 10. Beyond the Gulf State investment hype: the case of Indonesia and the Philippines - Gerben Nooteboom and Laurens Bakker
    • 11. Tracing the dragon's footsteps: a deconstruction of the discourse on China's foreign land investments - Peter Ho and Irna Hofman
  • Conclusion: beyond the global land grab hype - ways forward in research and action - Annelies Zoomers and Mayke Kaag


'This collection provides a serious analytical contribution to our understanding of a phenomenon, which might seem to peak at the present, but which is deeply rooted in the past and will need steadfast scholarly and political attention in the future.'
Christian Lund, University of Copenhagen

'This is an excellent, original collection, on the global land grabbing phenomenon. It covers Africa, Latin America and Asia and a number of interesting themes including urban land grabbing in Kenya, GM soy cultivation in Argentina, residential tourism in Costa Rica, water grabbing in Peru and Ecuador, new land conversions in Vietnam, and the Gulf States' investments in Indonesia and the Philippines.'
Robin Palmer, Global Land Rights Policy Specialist, Mokoro

'This collection of essays provides a uniquely well informed and comprehensive analysis of "land grabbing", describing developments across three continents and illustrating the variety of forms it has taken: it shall be of interest to anyone interested in the future of globalization and its impacts on the poor who rely on access to land for their livelihood.'
Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food

'The Global Land Grab represents an important break from the earlier wave of land grabs studies in at least three interlinked ways: it looks beyond the "here and now land deals" by historicizing analysis to facilitate better understanding of longer term implications of the phenomenon; it contains grounded local-national studies; and it offers a comparative perspective across regions of the world. Academic researchers, activists, and development-policy practitioners who are interested in understanding global land grabbing, its origins, meanings and implications should read this book.'
Saturnino M. Borras Jr., International Institute of Social Studies


Publication Date: 13 February 2014
272 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781780328942
Hardback: 9781780328959
eBook ePub: 9781780328973
eBook PDF: 9781780328966
eBook Kindle: 9781780328980

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