The growing worldwide demand for land has turned numerous African rural regions into a much-sought after commodity for global investments. The multi-methodological and plurilocal project S1-B »Landed Markets« addresses this process from a broad set of different angles ranging from disputed privatizations of collective land titles and the socio-technical establishment of formalized land markets to the rationales and strategies of Asian enterprises investing in African land:
- Constructed Markets: How does the media produce and negotiate „FDI in Land / Land grabbing”? How do the discourses and normative legitimizations differ across national spaces in Africa, Asia and Europe?
- Mobilizing Markets: How is land made mobile and transnational? What socio-technical investments see to it that land circulates between Asia and Africa?
- Negotiating Markets: How do African and Asian actors negotiate land deals (social and political participation, rationales and legitimations, evaluation and pricing, bargaining power)?
On the African side the project will realize comparative studies in Benin, Cameroun and Madagascar. In those countries there are, among others, Malayan, Indian, Chinese, South-Korean and Japanese actors involved in the process of land acquisition for a variety of different reasons (food products, animal feed, industrial crops and energy crops). Is this dynamic opening up new spaces for South-South cooperation and postcolonial development trajectories or does it rather stabilize neo-colonial structures of dependency? In addition to their presence in Africa the role of Asian investors is also analyzed through case studies in Asia, especially the often neglected example Japan.
Research methods include discourse analysis, the participant observation, qualitative interviews and critical cartography. These cartographic techniques are used to visualize subjective perceptions of land and resources by the different groups involved in land deals in order to identify potential lines of conflict. At the same time, “official cartographic representations” of national and international organizations, of investment corporations are being analyzed to de- and reconstruct the socio-technological production and techno-political definition of the quality, availability and use of resources.