After the Global Land Grab III: Beyond the Meta-narrative

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group, Development Geographies Specialty Group, Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Regency Ballroom, Omni, Lobby Level
Organizers: Will Shattuck, W. Nathan Green
Chairs: Will Shattuck

Call for Submissions

This paper session invites scholars to present on a wide range of research that responds to these and other questions. We are particularly interested in fostering a dialogue that explores how geographic concepts--such as the production of scale, the role of place in rural landscapes, global production networks, and spaces of social reproduction--can help to advance the interdisciplinary field of critical agrarian studies. Please send paper abstracts of 250 words to Will Shattuck ( and W. Nathan Green ( by October 12, 2018.


It has been ten years since the global land grab gained critical attention within geography. This literature highlighted the ongoing importance of rural spaces for the maintenance of global financial markets and the often violent exclusions that accompany investments in agricultural production (e.g., Hall et al. 2011). Since then, scholarship has moved beyond ‘the standardized package’ (Schoenberger et al. 2017) of the initial global land grab literature in order to investigate the complex spaces and processes of agrarian change (Peluso and Lund 2011). To do so, this more recent work has re-engaged with older debates within critical agrarian studies (Edelman and Wolford 2017).

Out of this post-land grab literature, scholars have raised a number of pressing questions. First, why do smallholder farmers persist as important producers within capitalist economies (e.g., Rigg et al. 2016)? This question is particularly salient given arguments about the ability of smallholder agriculture to ‘absorb’ the surplus labor that seems to be unneeded by capitalist production (Glassman 2003; Li 2010; Ferguson 2014). Second, in the context of new communication technologies and rural out-migration to precarious labor markets, how do urban processes continue to affect rural spaces? Third, as agrarian contexts are increasingly shaped by processes of financialization (e.g., Fairbairn et al. 2014), how have digital financial inclusion and commodities futures markets affected the political and ecological contours of agricultural production? Finally, recognizing the intersectional dynamics within rural society, in what ways do gender and intergenerational relations within families affect rural livelihoods and access to land (e.g., Young and White 2017)?


Edelman, Marc, and Wendy Wolford. 2017. “Introduction: Critical Agrarian Studies in Theory and Practice.” Antipode 49 (4): 959–76.

Fairbairn, Madeleine, Jonathan Fox, S. Ryan Isakson, Michael Levien, Nancy Peluso, Shahra Razavi, Ian Scoones, and K.
Sivaramakrishnan. 2014. “Introduction: New directions in agrarian political economy.” The Journal of Peasant Studies 41 (5): 653-666.

Glassman, Jim. 2003. “The Spaces of Economic Crisis: Asia and the Reconfiguration of Neo-Marxist Theory.” Studies in Comparative International Development 37 (4): 31-63.

Hall, Derek, Philip Hirsch, and Tania Murray Li. 2011. Powers of exclusion: land dilemmas in Southeast Asia. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Li, Tania M. 2010. “To Make Live or Let Die? Rural Dispossession and the Protection of Surplus Populations.” Antipode 41 (1): 66-93.

Peluso, Nancy Lee, and Christian Lund. 2011. “New Frontiers of Land Control: Introduction.” The Journal of Peasant Studies 38 (4): 667–81.

Rigg, Jonathan, Albert Salamanca, and Eric C. Thompson. 2016. “The puzzle of East and Southeast Asia's persistent smallholder.” Journal of Rural Studies 43: 118-133.

Schoenberger, Laura, Derek Hall, and Peter Vandergeest. 2017. “What happened when the land grab came to Southeast Asia?” The Journal of Peasant Studies 44 (4): 697-725.

Young, Clara Mi, and Ben White. 2017. “Gender and generation in Southeast Asian agro-commodity booms.” The Journal of Peasant Studies 44 (6): 1103-1110.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Discussant Ian Baird The University of Wisconsin - Madison 20 1:10 PM
Presenter Chris Knudson*, University of Arizona, Zack Guido, University of Arizona, Grabbing profits, not land: The rise of private coffee buyers in the Jamaican Blue Mountains 20 1:30 PM
Presenter Katie Epstein*, Montana State University, (Re)assembling rangelands 20 1:50 PM
Presenter Madeleine Fairbairn*, University of California, Santa Cruz, James LaChance, University of California, Berkeley, Kathryn DeMaster, University of California, Berkeley, Loka Ashwood, Auburn University, Groundwater access and farmland financialization in California 20 2:10 PM
Presenter Sarah Stefanos*, University of Wisconsin, Shaky deals? Ethiopian agro-investors and tensions between developmentalism and neopatrimonialism in Ethiopian land concessions 20 2:30 PM

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