ABSTRACT Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in large‐scale land deals, often from public lands to the hands of foreign or domestic investors. Popularly referred to as a ‘global land grab’, new land acquisitions are drawing upon, restructuring and challenging the nature of both governance and government. In the Introduction to this special issue, we argue for an analysis of land deals that draws upon the insights of political ecology, cultural politics and agrarian studies to illuminate the micro‐processes of transaction and expropriation as well as the broader structural forces at play. We argue that ‘the state’ is often invoked as a key player in land grabbing but states never operate with one voice; rather we need to unbundle the state, to see government and governance as processes, people and relationships. To develop this approach, we focus on territory, sovereignty, authority and subjects not as static objects but as relationships produced in and through place, property, power and production. Understanding the dynamic nature of these relationships is critical to understanding the highly variable form and content of large‐scale land deals in different settings around the world. The papers in this special issue help to develop this perspective and this Introduction highlights important areas of convergence among them.
ABSTRACT The idea that states should take on an enhanced role in the pursuit of development is once again becoming increasingly pronounced in the global South. In Latin America, the ‘return of the state’ is associated with neostructuralism or post‐neoliberalism and the rise of the New Left. Post‐neoliberal projects of governance seek to retain elements of the previous export‐led growth model whilst introducing new mechanisms for social inclusion and welfare. In addition to being a project of growth based on exports and expanded social spending, post‐neoliberalism has a distinctive political character. This article explores the pillars of the new governance project, emphasizing the citizenship claims associated with it, along with some of the tensions that arise from export‐dependent growth, budget limitations, a weak tax base and the difficulties of managing enhanced social expectations. In making their argument, the authors draw on the examples of Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina.
ABSTRACT In this introduction we argue that access and property regarding natural resources are intimately bound up with the exercise of power and authority. The process of seeking authorizations for property claims also has the effect of granting authority to the authorizing politico‐legal institution. In consequence, struggles over natural resources in an institutionally pluralist context are processes of everyday state formation. Through the discussion of this theoretical proposition we point to legitimizing practices, territoriality and violence as offering particular insights into the recursively constituted relations between struggles over access and property regarding natural resources, contestations about power and authority, and state formation.
ABSTRACT Commodification and transnational trading of ecosystem services is the most ambitious iteration yet of the strategy of ‘selling nature to save it’. The World Bank and UN agencies contend that global carbon markets can slow climate change while generating resources for development. Consonant with ‘inclusionary’ versions of neoliberal development policy, advocates assert that international payment for ecosystem services (PES) projects, financed by carbon‐offset sales and biodiversity banking, can benefit the poor. However, the World Bank also warns that a focus on poverty reduction can undermine efficiency in conservation spending. The experience of ten years of PES illustrates how, in practice, market‐efficiency criteria clash directly with poverty‐reduction priorities. Nevertheless, the premises of market‐based PES are being extrapolated as a model for global REDD programmes financed by carbon‐offset trading. This article argues that the contradiction between development and conservation observed in PES is inevitable in projects framed by the asocial logic of neoclassical economics. Application in international conservation policy of the market model, in which profit incentives depend upon differential opportunity costs, will entail a net upward redistribution of wealth from poorer to wealthier classes and from rural regions to distant centres of capital accumulation, mainly in the global North.
ABSTRACT Nature™ Inc. describes the increasingly dominant way of thinking about environmental policy and biodiversity conservation in the early twenty‐first century. Nature is, and of course has long been, ‘big business’, especially through the dynamics of extracting from, polluting and conserving it. As each of these dynamics seems to have become more intense and urgent, the capitalist mainstream is seeking ways to off‐set extraction and pollution and find (better) methods of conservation, while increasing opportunities for the accumulation of capital and profits. This has taken Nature™ Inc. to new levels, in turn triggering renewed attention from critical scholarship. The contributions to this Debate section all come from a critical perspective and have something important to say about the construction, workings and future of Nature™ Inc. By discussing the incorporation of trademarked nature and connecting what insights the contributions bring to the debate, we find that there might be what we call an intensifying dialectic between change and limits influencing the relations between capitalism and nature. Our conclusion briefly points to some of the issues and questions that this dialectic might lead to in future research on neoliberal conservation and market‐based environmental policy.
ABSTRACT Treating the ‘state’ as a finished product gets in the way of understanding it. The state is always in the making. This article, which acts as the Introduction to a special issue, argues that political authority is (re‐)produced through the process of successfully defining and enforcing rights to community membership and rights of access to important resources. Claims to rights prompt the exercise of authority. Struggles over property and citizenship are therefore as much about the scope and constitution of political authority as they are about access to resources and membership of a political community. The ability to entitle and disenfranchise people with regard to property, and to establish the conditions under which they hold property — together with the ability to define who belongs and who does not, and to establish and uphold rank, privilege and social servitude in its many forms — is constitutive of state power. Thus this essay argues that various moments of rupture (following periods of conflict, of colonial domination, of socialist, liberal, or authoritarian regimes, et cetera) allow us to see that rights do not simply flow from authority but also constitute it. Authority and rights are conceptually tied together by recognition. This article demonstrates how contracts of recognition unfold. It proposes an approach to the systematic investigation of the constitution of authority through the social production of property and citizenship as the recognition of claims to resources and membership. It thereby develops a way to study concrete dynamics of authority or state formation.
ABSTRACT The last decade and a half has witnessed a dramatic growth in mining activity in many developing countries. This article reviews these recent trends and describes the debates and conflicts they have triggered. The authors review evidence regarding debates on the resource curse and the possibility of an extraction‐led pathway to development. They then describe the different types of resistance and social mobilization that have greeted mineral expansion at a range of geographical scales, and consider how far these protests have changed the relationships between mining and political economic change. The conclusions address how far such protests might contribute to an ‘escape’ from the resource curse, and consider implications for research and policy agendas.
ABSTRACT This article, which forms the introduction to a collection of studies, focuses on processes of state construction and deconstruction in contemporary Africa. Its objective is to better understand how local, national and transnational actors forge and remake the state through processes of negotiation, contestation and bricolage. Following a critique of the predominant state failure literature and its normative and analytical shortcomings, the authors identify four key arguments of the scholarly literature on the state in Africa, which concern the historicity of the state in Africa, the embeddedness of bureaucratic organizations in society, the symbolic and material dimensions of statehood and the importance of legitimacy. A heuristic framework entitled ‘negotiating statehood’ is proposed, referring to the dynamic and partly undetermined processes of state formation and failure by a multitude of social actors who compete over the institutionalization of power relations. The article then operationalizes this framework in three sections that partly conceptualize, partly illustrate who negotiates statehood in contemporary Africa (actors, resources and repertoires); where these negotiation processes occur (negotiation arenas and tables); and what these processes are all about (objects of negotiation). Empirical examples drawn from a variety of political contexts across the African continent illustrate these propositions.
ABSTRACT A growing number of Payments for Environmental Services (PES) schemes are being implemented at the community level in developing countries, especially in the context of climate change mitigation efforts to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD). In parallel, there is vigorous commentary about the implications of market‐based or neoliberal conservation strategies, and their potential effects on communities that depend on natural resources. This article explores the political dimensions of community‐level PES in Cambodia, where contracts for ‘avoided deforestation’ and ‘biodiversity conservation’ were implemented in five communities. The research examines three aspects of the community‐level PES model that are inherently political: the engagement of communities as single homogeneous entities, capable of entering PES contracts; the simplification of land‐use practices and resource rights; and the assumption that contracts are voluntary or reflect ‘community choice’. These elements of PES work both discursively and practically to silence certain voices and claims, while privileging others. Therefore, the problematic nature of community‐level PES is not that it is a market per se, but that it is a powerful intervention masquerading as a market. This process of ‘market masquerades’ emerges as a key element in the politics of neoliberal conservation in practice.
ABSTRACT The context of this article is the surge in large‐scale land acquisitions of African lands by local and foreign investors for commercial food, livestock, oil palm and carbon trading purposes. Involuntary loss of rural lands at scale is not new to Africa's majority rural poor, nor is it driven by a single factor. Historically inequitable land relations within communities, compounded by a century of capitalist transformation, take their toll. This study argues, however, that the weak legal status of communal rights is the most pernicious enabler in their demise, allowing governments to take undue liberties with their citizens’ lands, and particularly those which are unfarmed and by tradition held in common. While international acquiescence to abusive domestic law helps entrench the diminishment of majority land rights, the domestic laws themselves are principally at fault and necessarily the target for change. This legal vulnerability is explored here through an examination of more than twenty African land laws.
ABSTRACT Tracing a complex trajectory from ‘liberal’ to ‘neoliberal’ feminism in development, this article argues that approaches to gender which are currently being promoted within neoliberal development frameworks, while often characterized as ‘instrumentalizing’ gender equality, in fact rely upon, extend and deepen gendered inequalities in order to sustain and strengthen processes of global capital accumulation in several ways. This is explored through development discourses and practices relating to microfinance, reproductive rights and adolescent girls. Drawing on examples from India, the article goes on to reflect on experiences of collective movements in which the assumptions underpinning this ‘Gender Equality as Smart Economics’ approach are challenged. Finally, it highlights several concepts associated with Marxist, Black, Post‐colonial and Queer feminisms and underlines their importance to projects seeking to critically redefine development, arguing for a radical re‐appropriation of gender in this context.
ABSTRACT Public authority does not always fall within the exclusive realm of government institutions; in some contexts, institutional competition is intense and a range of ostensibly a‐political situations become actively politicized. Africa has no shortage of institutions which attempt to exercise public authority: not only are multiple layers and branches of government institutions present and active to various degrees, but so‐called traditional institutions bolstered by government recognition also vie for public authority, and new emerging institutions and organizations also enter the field. The practices of these institutions make concepts such as public authority, legitimacy, belonging, citizenship and territory highly relevant. This article proposes an analytical strategy for the understanding of public authority in such contexts. It draws on research from anthropologists, geographers, political scientists and social scientists working on Africa, in an attempt to explore a set of questions related to a variety of political practices and their institutional ramifications.
ABSTRACT In this article, I explore the recent revalorization of non‐state forms of order and authority in the context of hybrid approaches to governance and state building in Africa. I argue for a more empirical and comparative approach to hybrid governance that is capable of distinguishing between constructive and corrosive forms of non‐state order, and sharpens rather than blurs the relationship between formal and informal regulation. A critique of the theoretical and methodological issues surrounding hybrid governance perspectives sets the scene for a comparative analysis of two contrasting situations of hybrid security systems: the RCD‐ML of eastern DR Congo, and the Bakassi Boys vigilante group of eastern Nigeria. In each case, four issues are examined: the basis of claims that regulatory authority has shifted to informal security systems; the local legitimacy of the security forces involved; the wider political context; and finally, whether a genuine transformation of regulatory authority has resulted, offering local populations a preferable alternative to the prior situation of neglectful or predatory rule. I argue that hybrid governance perspectives often essentialize informal regulatory systems, disguising coercion and political capture as popular legitimacy, and I echo calls for a more historically and empirically informed analysis of hybrid governance contexts.
ABSTRACT This article compares land dispossession for industrial development under state‐developmentalism and neoliberalism in India. Drawing on interviews, ethnography and archives of industrial development agencies, it compares earlier steel towns and state‐run industrial estates with today's Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and argues that they embody different regimes of dispossession. While steel towns and industrial estates reflected a regime of land for production with pretensions of inclusive social transformation, SEZs represent a neoliberal regime of land for the market in which ‘land broker states’ have emerged to indiscriminately transfer land from peasants to capitalist firms for real estate. The present regime has been unable to achieve the ideological legitimacy of its predecessor, leading to more widespread and successful ‘land wars’. The article argues more broadly that variations in dispossession across space and time can be understood as specific constellations of state roles, economic logics tied to class interests and ideological articulations of the ‘public good’.
ABSTRACT Markets for ecosystem services are being promoted across the developing world, amidst claims that the provision of economic incentives is vital to bring about resource conservation. This article argues that equity and legitimacy are also critical dimensions in the design and implementation of such markets, if social development goals beyond economic gains are to be achieved. The article examines this issue by focusing on two communities involved in a project for carbon sequestration services of forests in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. The perceived legitimacy of the activities and the distribution of economic outcomes and project‐related information are found to be mediated by organizational allegiances and the history of social relations regarding access to property and forest resources. Political affiliation determines the project's legitimacy, while the poorest farmers and women have been excluded from project design and implementation. The authors argue that pitfalls such as these contribute to reinforcing existing power structures, inequities and vulnerabilities, and suggest that this is a product of the nature of emerging markets. Markets for ecosystem services are, in effect, limited in promoting more legitimate forms of decision making and a more equitable distribution of their outcomes.
ABSTRACT Rather than treating the global land grab as a top‐down phenomenon driven by global markets or foreign states, this article instead highlights the crucial mediating role played by the host state and domestic elites through a case study of Mozambique. I first introduce the domestic institutional framework, particularly the national Land Law and the institutions that determine the economic value of land. I then argue for an analysis of large‐scale land acquisitions that brings into focus the effects of domestic power imbalances on determining the outcomes of foreign demand for land. I examine the ways in which domestic inequality may shape foreign land acquisitions through a typology of the sources of power that give domestic elites a privileged role in relation to foreign investors. The five sources of domestic power considered are: traditional authority, bureaucratic influence, historical accumulation, locally‐based business knowledge and networks, and control over the development agenda. Finally, I conclude that the emphasis placed on the actions of the foreigner by both opponents (via framings of land acquisitions as neocolonialism or imperialism) and proponents (via solutions rooted in corporate codes of conduct) may obscure the ways in which pre‐existing domestic inequality conditions the outcomes of these deals.
ABSTRACT This article examines distributional disparities within nations. There are six main conclusions. First, about 80 per cent of the world's population now lives in regions whose median country has a Gini close to 40. Second, as outliers are now only located among middle‐income and rich countries, the ‘upwards’ side of the ‘Inverted‐U’ between inequality and income per capita has evaporated (and with it the hypothesis that posits that ‘things have to get worse before they can get better’). Third, among middle‐income countries, Latin America and mineral‐rich Southern Africa are uniquely unequal, while Eastern Europe follows a distributional path similar to the Nordic countries. Fourth, among rich countries there is a large (and growing) distributional diversity. Fifth, within a global trend of rising inequality, there are two opposite forces at work. One is ‘centrifugal’ and leads to an increased diversity in the shares of the top 10 per cent and bottom 40 per cent. The other is ‘centripetal’ and leads to a growing uniformity in the income‐share appropriated by deciles 5 to 9. Therefore, half of the world's population (the middle and upper‐middle classes) have acquired strong ‘property rights’ over half of their respective national incomes; the other half of this income, however, is increasingly up for grabs between the very rich and the poor. And sixth, globalization is thus creating a distributional scenario in which what really matters is the income‐share of the rich (because the rest ‘follows’).
ABSTRACT This contribution critically assesses financial inclusion as an intervention in the development space. It examines the turn from microfinance to financial inclusion, with the introduction of new actors and practices; new ideas and ideologies; new theories of change; and new expectations toward clients. It then considers three key issues and contests the arguments made by proponents of financial inclusion about them: first, the argument that financial inclusion facilitates broader development outcomes; second, the claim that poor people gain poverty alleviation through financial inclusion; and third, the suggestion that financial inclusion is good business. In all three areas, the author highlights shortcomings in the evidence base and argues that high expectations of financial inclusion serving as a core pro‐poor, private‐sector led development intervention lack justification. Rather, financial inclusion should be recognized as a contested and contestable enterprise.
ABSTRACT Over the last decade, the global value chain (GVC) approach, with its associated notions of chain governance and firm upgrading, has proliferated as a mode of analysis and of intervention amongst development institutions. This article examines the adoption and adaptation of GVCs at four multilateral agencies in order to understand the purchase of value chain approaches within the development field. Mixing GVC perspectives with other theoretical influences and applied practices, these institutions deploy value chain frameworks to signal a new generation of policies that promise both to consolidate, and to advance beyond, the market fundamentalism of the Washington Consensus. To achieve this, value chain development frameworks craft interventions directed toward various constellations of firm and non‐firm actors as a ‘third way’ between state‐minimalist and state‐coordinated approaches. The authors identify key adaptations of the GVC framework including an emphasis on value chain governance as an instrument to correct market failure in partnership with state and development agencies, and upgrading as a de facto tool for poverty reduction. They find that efforts are ongoing to construct a ‘post’ to the Washington Consensus and that the global value chain is enabling this process by providing a new language and new object of development intervention: ‘the chain’ and the local–global linkages that comprise it.
ABSTRACT The classical conceptualization of the working class, of workers’ collective action and, especially, of trade unionism, was implicitly or explicitly based on the Standard Employment Relationship that, for a few decades, has been dominant in North America, Europe, Japan and Australasia. The ‘classical’ model of collective bargaining, which has shaped the world's traditional labour movements, was based on this conceptualization. However, it is now increasingly undermined by the rapid spread of ‘informal’ or ‘precarious’ labour in the global North. It is our contention that the ‘classical’ view of the working class and workers’ collective action is fundamentally biased and takes as a norm or standard what was in fact an historical exception. The real norm or standard in global capitalism is insecurity, informality or precariousness, and the Standard Employment Relationship is an historical phenomenon which had a deep impact in a limited part of the world for a relatively short period of time. If, as we argue, the ‘Rest’ is not now becoming like the ‘West’, but the other way round, then the ‘traditional’ forms of collective action that have developed in the North Atlantic region during the last two centuries are gradually losing much of their impact. New forms of collective action are emerging, though these are often still at an embryonic stage. It is, therefore, high time to rethink the concept of the working class and the ways in which it can further its interests.