What happened to land grabs in Africa?

October 2021
Youjin Chung and Marie Gagne

Writers have guest-edited an African Studies Review forum on Understanding Land Deals in Limbo in Africa which examines the contentious politics of incomplete land grabs in Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia. These studies show that even when land deals are cancelled, stalled, downsized, transferred to new owners, or stay dormant and speculative for many years, they can still produce far-reaching consequences that often go unnoticed. The complex interplay of land governance, local political dynamics and capital’s own contradictions can push land deals in different and unexpected directions. These inconclusive land deals can still severely limit people’s land access and livelihoods, perpetuate fear of dispossession, and intensify local conflicts. In some cases, they can lead to international arbitration processes between states and foreign investors which seldom serve the interests of rural communities.