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Seminar on land grabs by SA agribusiness, 28 November

CCS Seminar: Dispossession and resistance to SA agribusiness in the new scramble for Southern and Eastern African land
Speaker: Giuliano Martinello
Date: Thursday 28 November
Time: 12:30 - 2:00
Venue: CCS Seminar Room 602, 6th Floor, MTB Tower, Howard College

A convergence of factors has been driving a revaluation of land by powerful economic and political actors. As a result, we are seeing a dramatic rise in the extent of cross-border, transnational corporation-driven and foreign government-driven, large-scale land deals unfolding worldwide. ‘Land grab’ has become a catch-all phrase to describe transactions that include the production and sale of food and biofuels, conservation and mining activities. This seminar explores the empirical complexities of land grabbing in Africa and its implications in terms of agrarian change and socio-political resistance. Because land grabbing represents a persistent process of ‘accumulation by dispossession’ - entailing both historical continuities and discontinuities with colonial and post-colonial patterns of land acquisitions - the involvement of BRICS countries has led to charges of a ‘new scramble for Africa.’ South African corporate agribusiness is critical to the current assault on Southern and Eastern African land, shaping the contours of agrarian social formations and paving the way to commoditization and privatization of land. Indeed SA capital, often encouraged by Pretoria, is generating dispossession and displacement in ways that remind of prior waves of dispossession experienced in the region's settler-colonial societies. And yet the resilience of peasant farming and the vibrancy of rural struggles could be a determining factor, together with the uneven development of capitalism. The trajectories of socio-eco-spatial change are diverse, and resistance could yet be decisive.

Giuliano Martiniello is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Civil Society within the UKZN School of Built Environment and Development Studies. He has a PhD in Politics and International Studies from the University of Leeds (2011) and worked at the Makerere University Institute of Social Research in Uganda. His current research interests are linked to the political economy and political ecology of agrarian change, land grabbing, international food regimes, land and agrarian reforms, food sovereignty and social movements.

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