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A.3.b. Resisting Land Grabs in the 21st Century

Volume Two -> A. Campaigns for Social and Economic Justice -> A.3. Struggles over Land -> A.3.b. Resisting Land Grabs in the 21st Century

Ownership and use of land is becoming an increasingly contested issue in recent years. Apart from multinational corporations claiming land to exploit its resources – minerals, oil or coal (see A.5.) – companies are also taking over land for biofuels or fast growing trees to be used as timber, some governments are buying up land in other parts of the world to ensure against future lack of food or for investment, and financiers and oligarchs are also involved in taking land from local small farmers. Although some of these land deals are undertaken officially and authorized by governments, others occur secretly and the precise number of land deals since 2000 is not known. Oxfam has estimated that over two million square hectares were taken over in the first decade of the 21st century, two-thirds in Africa (where Chinese state corporations have been especially active). This extensive land grab has generated local resistance in Africa, Asia and Latin America – sometimes in an attempt to defeat the project and keep their land, and sometimes demanding better terms for local people being incorporated into these vast projects. There are, for example, impressive examples from India, where in December 1999 the Adivasi indigenous movement organized a 1,7000 mile march to launch a Land Entitlement Satyagraha ( Starr, Naming the Enemy: Anti-Corporate Movements Confront Globalization (A.4 Resistance to Multinationals) ). Sunitra Narain noted numerous campaigns (some successful) to resist takeover of land or water for hydro-electric projects and dams in India ( Narain, Sunitra , A Million Mutinies New Internationalist, , pp. 10-11 ).

Canadian Journal of Development Studies, Land Grabbing in Latin America, Special issue, Vol. 33, no. 4, 2012

Hall, Derek, Land, Cambridge, Polity, 2012, pp. 176

Analyzes conflicts over land in terms of its role as territory (leading to inter-state claims or wars), its status as property, and ways in which its use is regulated. The book examines the attempts of NGOs to protect property rights and environments in the Global South and the land grabs by corporations and governments, drawing on wide range of examples, including China and Honduras.

Journal of Peasant Studies, Green Grabbing – a New Appropriation of Nature?, Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 39, issue 2 (Special Issue), 2012, pp. 237-617

Prints papers from international conference: The Land Deal Politics Initiative, (convenor of) ‘The Second International Academic Conference on Land Grabbing’ , Cornell University, 17-19 October 2012.

Kerssen, Tanya, Grabbing Power: The New Struggles for Land, Food and Democracy in Northern Honduras, Oakland CA, Food First Books, 2013, pp. 188

This book covers the popular resistance that has developed in the towns since the coup in 2009, but especially in the Bajo Aguan valley, where peasants who are contesting their dispossession from their land since 1992 by the Dinant Corporation and other large landowners promoting palm oil plantations, are staging large scale occupations of land. The area has a large military presence and special forces are implicated in killing local activists.

Mazgaonkar, Anand, India – Macro Violence, Micro Resistance: Development Violence and Grassroots Unarmed Resistance, In Clark, People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Global Solidarity (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements), London, Pluto Press, pp. 76-85

Include two brief accounts of struggles to retain land, by Adivasi (indigenous) people in Gujarat against dispossession from traditional lands by the Forest Department, and the ‘Save Our Lands’ campaign in Gujerat for common lands held by villages and often used by the landless for herding animals, plant collecting, etc, who were threatened by corporate agriculture. See also Mazgaonkar, Anand , Macro Violence, Micro Resistance (Development Violence and Unarmed Grassroots Resistance) , 2006 .

Pearce, Fred, The Landgrabbers: The Fight Over Who Owns the Earth, London, Transworld, Eden Project Books, 2012, pp. 400

Examination of how land is being taken from subsistence farmers round the world, for example across Africa, South-East Asia and parts of Eastern Europe.

Schneider, Alison Elizabeth, What Shall We Do without Land? Land Grabs and Resistance in Rural Cambodia, Sussex University, International Conference on Global Land Grabbing, 6-8 April 2011, organized by Land Deals Politics Initiative with Journal of Peasant Studies, 2011

Covers three different types of land grab (one by military) and types of peasant resistance, from overt protests and petitions to ‘everyday resistance’ such as sleeping on threatened land and organizing road blocks.

Vergara-Camus, Leandro, The Legacy of Social Conflicts over Property Rights in Rural Brazil and Mexico: Current Land Struggles in Historical Perspective, Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 39, issue 5, 2012, pp. 1133-1158