Making land grabbable: Stealthy dispossessions by conservation in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionEnvironment and Planning E: Nature and Space. 2021, 1-21. 10.1177/25148486211052860
This paper seeks to answer the question: how does land become grabbable and local people relocatable? It focuses on the historical and current conditions of land tenure that enable land grabbing. While recognising the important contributions thus far made by the critical literature on land grabbing, this paper moves forward towards understanding specific processes that befall before land is grabbed and its original users relocated. Based on an empirical analysis of policy and practices of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania, the paper proposes that land grabbing, particularly in the context of conservation in rural Africa, is not an instantaneous phenomenon and does not happen in a vacuum. It is a result of long-term structural marginalisation of rural land users that produces scarcity and the deterioration of life conditions, which make people relocatable and land grabbing justifiable. Local people either relocate themselves because they could not make a living due to systematic disinvestments on basic social services or life is made unbearable through restrictions imposed on their production practices to make “voluntary” relocation possible. The paper highlights the need to focus on the stealthy dispossessions in addition to major events of grabbing as starting points of analysis. Insight from this study can be useful in analysing other cases of land grabbing where large swathes of ostensibly empty land are made available for investment.