Pro - Poor Land Reform: A Critique



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Highly original analysis of the Philippine land reform experience

About pro - poor land reform: a critique

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What they say about the book: Those who read this book will have to look at other land reform experiences with fresh eyes. - Cristóbal Kay, Professor of Rural Development and Development Studies, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague

This book sheds new light on the political economy of land reform by presenting a highly original analysis of the Philippine experience. Borras’s research strategy weaves together an unusually balanced synthesis of significant empirical research with sophisticated theory.

Taking on a case that has been widely seen more through ideological than through scholarly lenses, the author first shows that much more land reform was accomplished than is widely assumed, and then shows how this came about. This involves both very serious original data analysis, to establish the unexpected outcome, and nuanced political analysis, to explain how and why substantially more land was redistributed than was expected. The findings effectively demolish much of the conventional wisdom. Methodologically, the combination of national level data and political analysis with such a wealth of local cases is especially compelling.

The study combines extraordinary insider analysis of peasant movement politics with an unusually clear-eyed, distanced view and a refreshing willingness to specify mistakes and misperceptions. Stepping back to the big picture, the author is especially good at tackling the central analytical problem — how to disentangle and account for both the limits of and possibilities for redistributive reform.

The book makes an original contribution that is broadly relevant to both scholars and practitioners in development studies — especially those interested in how to carry out anti-poverty reforms under nascent elected regimes. In terms of the study of land reform, the book is broadly cast in terms of cutting edge cross-national international policy and analytical debates. As a result, its resonance will not be limited to those scholars interested in the Philippines — the book addresses intellectual and political puzzles that cut across different regions of the world.

- Jonathan Fox, Professor of Social Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz This book is an important, engaging and provocative contribution to the land reform literature. It combines re-thinking of key concepts and debates on redistributive land reform with skilful case analysis of reform implementation processes. For these the author has been able to use his personal experiences and contacts, as both front-line reform activist and adviser to the land reform bureaucracy, to obtain insider information which would not have been available to most researchers.

- Ben White, Professor of Rural Sociology, Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague

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