Land Grabbing: Perspectives from East and Southeast Asia

Call for papers
03 September 2014

A call for papers that offer rigorous and innovative analysis to continue deepening and broadening our understanding of global land deals – in specific regional context, with special attention to climate change and the role of China and other middle income countries within the region.

The Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI) is collaborating with several initiatives and institutions to hold an international conference with a regional focus on East and Southeast Asia, with emphasis on land grabbing, responses to climate change consequences and policy responses as well as resource conflict. The co-organizers are: BRICS for Critical Agrarian Studies (BICAS), the research project MOSAIC, and Chiang Mai University. It will be organized in collaboration with the Transnational Institute (TNI), Inter-Church Organization for Development (ICCO) Cooperation – Southeast Asia, and Focus on the Global South, and in partnership with: University of Amsterdam (WOTRO/AISSR Project on Land Investments); Université de Montréal – REINVENTERRA (Asia) Project; University of Wisconsin-Madison. It will be held on 5-6 June 2015 in Chiang Mai, Thailand and to be hosted by The Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RCSD) of Chiang Mai University.

The 2015 conference is a follow up to the highly successful international academic conferences organized by LDPI: in 2011 in IDS University of Sussex, UK and in 2012 in Cornell University, New York, USA ( Since the 2012 Cornell conference, there has been a popular clamor for more regionally focused international conferences. There will be one each for Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe/Central Asia, and China and/in Southeast Asia to be held during the period of 2014-2016.

The purpose of the 2015 Chiang Mai conference is to continue deepening and broadening our understanding of global land deals – but in the specific regional context, with special attention to climate change and the role of China and other middle income countries within the region. As before, we remain open to broader topics around land grab intersections with political economy, political ecology and political sociology, and will convene a series of parallel sessions on a range of themes responding to the issues below (and others):

Agrarian Change: What changes in broad agrarian structures are emerging? Are land deals motivated by new forms of agrarian capitalism or repeats of the past? What is the nature and extent of rural social differentiation – in terms of class, gender, generation and ethnicity – following changes in land use and land property relations as well as organizations of production and exchange? What are the emerging trends around dynamics of power, elites and corruption; land as a source of patronage? How can we make sense of the politics of land deals in different contexts? What are the dynamics of international politics of land grabs in the broader context of energy, mining, forestry and conservation; and the role of big capital and powerful interests?

Finance: How are land deal contracts developed between foreign and local companies and national states and financiers? Who finances these deals? What is the role of sovereign funds, hedge funds, pension funds and other financial instrument? Who is involved? How does the money flow? How and to what extent has (trans)national finance speculation played a role in land deals in the context of the convergence of food, fuels, climate and finance crises?

Green Grabbing: What environmental rationales are being deployed to appropriate land and nature? How does nature conservation, carbon sequestration, ecosystem service valuation intersect with land grabbing? What are the intersections between land deals and climate change mitigations strategies such as REDD+ and biofuels?

The role of BRICS/China, other East Asian countries and middle income countries (MICs): What is the role of BRICS/China in the emerging patterns of investments in agriculture in the region? What is the extent and character of its investments in agriculture in the region, and what are the motivations inside China for such regional investments? What are the emerging land use and agrarian change inside China? To what extent are the rising MICs (middle income countries, e.g. Thailand) within the region involved in recent large-scale land investments? Where are the East Asian countries (Japan, Taiwan, South Korea) in all these new agrarian dynamics?

Resistance and Alternatives: What is the range of reactions from local communities to these investments? To what extent have agrarian political struggles been provoked by the new land investment dynamics? What are the issues that unite or divide the rural poor, organized movements, and rural communities around the issue of land deals? What are some of the relevant emerging alternatives from key actors? Are some of the traditional policies such as land reform, and some of the more recent alternative visions such as ‘food sovereignty’ relevant and useful in protecting and promoting the interest of the rural poor in the midst of these (trans)national commercial land deals? International Policy Actors: Have global land policies of different overseas development agencies (eg World Bank, ADB, FAO, EU) contributed to facilitating/encouraging or blocking/discouraging land deals? What are the limitations of ‘code of conduct’, certification, regulation, FAO’s Tenure Guidelines, FPIC, information dissemination, and capacity-building strategies?

The organizers invite papers that offer rigorous and innovative analysis of this list of issues. Papers based on recent, original field research are especially welcomed. We also encourage comparative studies. Doctoral students and younger researchers, particularly from within the region, are especially encouraged to participate.


Instructions for submission of paper abstracts (500 words)

The deadline for the Call for Papers is 31 October 2014.

Please submit abstracts and requests for additional information to:

For paper abstracts, about 300-500 words plus short bio of 100 words = all in one file in Word format. Include your full contact details (email, tel/fax) as well as your institutional affiliation. All conference papers will be published online as LDPI Working Paper Series. Some papers presented at the workshop will be selected and considered for publication in academic journals that will be organized and initiated by the sponsors of the conference. For queries, please get in touch with any of the LDPI 5 co-coordinators: Jun, Ruth, Ian, Ben & Wendy


Travel grants

We have a very modest fund for travel grants for successful applicants coming from universities/research institutions located in Southeast Asia. For the rest, we will be unable to provide travel grants. But we will be able to provide free lunches and snacks at the conference for all conference participants. At a later date, we will provide information about various options on affordable student rate accommodation in Chiang Mai. **********


Picture: Mergui Archipelago by NASA Earth Observatory

Call for papers(pdf, 146.64 KB)