A ‘Land Sovereignty’ Alternative? - Towards a Peoples’ Counter-Enclosure

Darren mail at vegburner.co.uk
Mon Sep 10 00:58:40 BST 2012


6 July 2012
Jennifer Franco
Jun Borras

Dramatic changes around food, climate, energy, and finance in recent 
years have pushed questions of land use and land control back onto the 
centre stage of development discourse, at the very moment when the same 
conditions are spurring an unprecedented rush for land and water across 
the globe.

Although it is often overlooked, water also figures heavily in this new 
cycle of resource-grabbing, both as a driver of land grabbing for 
industrial agriculture, and as a target itself, as in the case of 
water-grabbing for hydropower or hydraulic fracturing (aka ‘fracking’), 
for example. A fusion of the industrial agro-food and energy complexes 
has made land and water key resources in the global capitalist system 
again, fuelling in turn a huge renewed process of enclosure known as the 
‘global land grab’.

There is a need to come to grips with land issues in a changing global 
context and to rethink what may be needed to mobilise effectively in 
such a setting. The main frameworks of advocacy that have been employed 
by some academics, radical researchers and social movement activists 
have some particular limitations in the context of global land grabbing. 
Neither land reform nor land tenure security alone are well-equipped to 
be frameworks for analysis or action in the current conjuncture. Land 
reform remains important, but its limitations as a call to action are 
being exposed by the current cycle of land grabbing. Likewise, land 
tenure security is important, but alone is not enough, since adverse 
incorporation of the rural working poor classes into the 
corporate-controlled global food-feed-fuel regime does not necessarily 
require moving them off the land.

If, as our analysis suggests, there is a need to transition the people’s 
demand for land from ‘land reform’ and ‘land tenure security’ to 
something else, then ‘land sovereignty’ as a framework is worth considering.

Agrarian Justice, Land sovereignty
(677.42 KB)

About the authors
Jennifer Franco

Jennifer Franco is a researcher working on land and rural politics 
issues.  After receiving a PhD in politics in 1997 in the US, she began 
working with the Philippine solidarity group in the Netherlands, and 
with local peasant organizations, rural community organizing and human 
rights groups, and research outfits in the Philippines in two regions 
faced with extreme landlord resistance to redistributive agrarian 
reform. She began working with TNI in the mid-2000s, on several projects 
on various topics involving local peasant movement and rural reform 
activists, human rights activists, and activist researchers from various 
countries and regions. In 2010 she joined the College of Humanities and 
Development (COHD) at the China Agricultural University in Beijing as an 
adjunct faculty and travels there twice a year to give seminars and work 
with junior faculty and MA and PhD students. She has lived in the US, 
Philippines, Canada and the Netherlands.
Jun Borras

Saturnino 'Jun' M Borras Jr. is a political activist and academic who 
has been deeply involved in rural social movements in the Philippines 
and internationally since the early 1980s. Borras was part of the core 
organising team that established the international peasant movement La 
Via Campesina and has written extensively on land issues and agrarian 
movements. Jun is also Adjunct Professor, COHD at China Agricultural 
University, Beijing; a Fellow for Food First/Institute for Food and 
Development Policy in California and Coordinator for Initiatives in 
Critical Agrarian Studies (ICAS).

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