The Global Land Grab

Beyond the Hype

edited by Mayke Kaag and Annelies Zoomers  

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.

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  • March 2014
  • ISBN: 9781552666661
  • 256 pages
  • $24.95
  • For sale in Canada
  • Co-published with ZED Books

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About the book

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?

The Global Land Grab is a comprehensive and much-needed intervention on one of the most hotly contested but little-understood issues facing Global South countries today.

Global Studies & Development International Politics

What people are saying

Saturnino M. Borras Jr, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague

The Global Land Grab represents an important break from the earlier wave of land grabs studies in at least three interlinked ways: in its look beyond the ‘here and now’ by historicizing analysis; in its grounded local-national studies; and in its comparative perspective across regions of the world. Researchers, activists and development policy practitioners … should read this book.

Christian Lund, University of Copenhagen

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.

Olivier De Schutter, UN special rapporteur on the right to food

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 curious about the future of globalization and its impacts on the poor who rely on access to land for their livelihood.

Robin Palmer, global land rights policy specialist, Mokoro

This is an excellent, original collection, on the global land-grabbing phenomenon. It covers a number of interesting themes, including urban land grabbing, GM soy cultivation, residential tourism, water grabbing, new land conversions in Vietnam, and the Gulf States’ investments.


Mayke Kaag

Mayke Kaag is a social anthropologist interested in processes of change and continuity in West and West-Central Africa. She did her PhD on land use and social dynamics in Senegal (2001) and has since conducted research on transnational Islamic NGOs in Chad (2004) and Senegalese Mouride migrants in Italy (2005-2007). From 2008-2010, she coordinated the Senegal project of the Islam Research Programme that was initiated by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was executed in collaboration with Dutch embassies in selected countries. Her current research focuses primarily on African transnational relations, including land issues, transnational Islamic charities and engagements with the diaspora.

Annelies Zoomers

Annelies Zoomers is a Human Geographer and Professor of International Development Studies (IDS) at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, and chair of the IS-academy on land governance. After finishing her PhD in 1988, she worked for the Netherlands Economic Institute (Rotterdam) and the Royal Tropical Institute (Amsterdam). Between 1995 and 2007, she was Associate Professor at the Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation (Amsterdam), and was Professor of International Migration at the Radboud University (Nijmegen) between 2005 and 2009. She has published extensively about sustainable livelihoods, land policies and the impact of privatization, tourism and international migration.


  • Introduction: The Global Land Grab Hype Mayke Kaag & Annelies Zoomers
  • Part One: Africa
  • Modernising the Periphery: Citizenship and Ethiopia’s New Agricultural Investment Policies George Schoneveld & Maru Shete
  • Large Scale Land Acquisitions in Tanzania: A   Critical Analysis of Practices and Dynamics Jumanne Abdallah, Linda Engstrüm, Kjell Havnevik & Lennart Salomonsson
  • Kenya and the Global   Land Grab: A View from Below Jacqueline M. Klopp & Odenda Lumumba
  • Part Two: Latin America
  • The Rapid Expansion of Genetically Modified Soy Production into the Chaco Region of Argentina Lucia Goldfarb & Annelies Zoomers
  • Land Investment in Costa Rica: Tracing Residential Tourism and Its   Implications for Development Femke van Noorloos
  • Grabbing in the Andean Region: Illustrative Cases from Peru and Ecuador Rutgerd Boelens, Antonio   Gaybor & Jan Hendriks
  • Part Three: Asia
  • Land Governance and Oil Palm   Development: Examples from Riau Province, Indonesia Ari Susanti & Suseno Budidarsono
  • Vietnam in the Debate on Land Grabbing: Conversion of Agricultural Land for Urban Expansion and Hydropower Development Ty Pham huu, Nguyen Quang Phuc & Guus van Westen
  • Land Grabbing in Cambodia: Land Rights in a Post-conflict Setting Michelle McLinden Nuijen, Men Prachvuthy & Guus van Westen
  • Beyond the Gulf State Investment Hype: The Case of Indonesia and the Philippines Gerben Nooteboom & Laurens Bakker
  • Tracing the Dragon’s Footsteps: A Deconstruction of the Discourse on China’s Foreign Land Investments Peter Hoand & Irna Hofman
  • Conclusion: Beyond the Global Land Grab Hype: Ways Forward in Research and Action Annelies   Zoomers & Mayke Kaag


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