I’m blogging from the African Studies Association meeting in Baltimore this week, where I’ve been able to attend some interesting panels. While there are a surprisingly small number of panels on African agriculture here, those that have taken place have been quite good.
Tom Lavers’ paper on land grabs in Ethiopia presented some interesting theoretical connections between land tenure and the reach of the state. His argument began with the observant that much of the literature on land grabs in Africa has centered on the belief that such land deals represent an erosion of national sovereignty insofar as they culminate in transfer of control over land to non-state (usually foreign business) actors.
However, in his presentation, Lavers argued that in the Ethiopian case, land acquisitions are generally taking place not in highland areas held by smallholder farmers but in lowland areas used by pastoralists who generally operated beyond the reach…
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