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Plantations, Violence, and the Monopoly Form

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Plantations are back.  Colonial-style large scale corporate monoculture of industrial crops on concession land is again expanding in the global south.  The land dimensions of this renewed expansion were thrust into public debate in 2008-9, when there was a spike in transnational land-acquisitions dubbed a global “land-grab.” Legitimating narratives for corporate grabs hinge on the need for efficient production to supply food and fuel for expanding populations, and the promise that plantations bring development to remote regions, reduce poverty and create jobs.  These narratives are powerful: time and again opposition to “land grabs” is dismissed on these grounds.  Present losses and harms are discounted in view of the brighter future that is to come.  To move the debate forward, much more attention needs to be paid to what happens after the grab: what form of “development” is actually produced?  What are the economic, social, political and ecological relations that form on and around agricultural land concessions not just in the short term, but as they evolve over time?  What is a plantation?

This talk is part of the Department of Geography - Distinguished International Fellows series.

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