8: Resource ‘grabs’, investment and territory in pastoral areas

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In recent decades, pastoral areas have been the focus of an investment push by governments, foreign powers and other large multinational capital through infrastructure corridors, high value extractive resources, including oil and minerals, as well as land that is valued for its potential to be converted into other uses including agricultural commercialisation, conservation and green energy developments. These projects are associated with plans to modernise, transform and develop places seen as ‘backward’.

Ol Karia

In this lecture, Jeremy Lind explores the issues around these projects. There is often a benign view of such investments, linked to promotion of commercialisation and growth. But debates on land and resource ‘grabs’ tell a different story of elite capture and dispossession. Yet, in many cases, high modernist visions have not materialised in the ways imagined and not all investments have involved dispossession. Rather, the fate of pastoralists rests on the terms of their incorporation in deals – something requiring attention to multiple coinciding processes relating to labour, technology, expertise, markets, as well as land.

Large-scale investments have far-reaching consequences, including new territorialisations, contestations and struggles, and enrichment of local elites, raising important questions about who benefits and who loses out, and whether such large-scale projects do indeed deliver poverty-reducing development, as is claimed.

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Thinking about the pastoral areas you know best:

  • What do investments look like in these places and who frames their meaning?
  • How are investments generating wider impacts, and who loses and wins?
  • What types of resistance, mobilisation, subversion and forms of ‘contentious politics’ are evident around these processes?


Photo credit: Jeremy Lind

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