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The Land Grab in Africa: an Expansion of the Colonial Mentality

Presenter: Darby O'Donnell (Development Studies and Arabic)
Advisor: Prof. Morgan Liu (Comparative Studies & Anthropology), Prof. Robert Agunga (Agricultural Communication)


The continued demand for substantial food and energy supplies has motivated the recent surge of large scale land acquisitions in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).  Collectively known as the "land grab".  Oxfam has estimated that approximately 1000 deals have been made or are in the process of being finalized SSA, with the total amount of land equaling the size of Western Europe.

Significant case studies indicate that these land grabs are not in the interest of the affected rural populations and pose serious threats to food security.  Thus, we must evaluate why these deals are proceeding with little scrutiny from the international community and receive continued ideological support from international organizations (IOs) and Western governments.

This research will argue that international organizations and Western governments are facilitating these land deals under the guise of sustainability and ecological consciousness.  Further, multinational corporations are employing manipulative measures to obtain government and local support.  Combined, these actions suggest an expansion of the colonial mentality used to exploit the African continent for centuries.  The research will center on the Herakles Farms land acquisition in Cameroon as a case study.

In the wake of the global food crisis, understanding the land grab, the complicit actors and the effects on local populations is essential to the cessation of the African continent's exploitation.