Reconsidering Gender in the Multi-level Governance of Land in East Africa: Governing the “Global Land Grab”?

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Collins, Andrea M.
Gender , Africa , International Development , Tanzania , Land , Global Governance , Agriculture , Land Grab , International Relations , Customary Tenure , Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment , International Political Economy , World Bank , FAO , Feminist International Relations , Women , Food Security , Political Science
In the twenty-first century, there is a global rush for agricultural land. This rush is extremely profitable and extremely destabilizing, nowhere more so than in low-income countries with large reserves of arable agricultural land. Recent years have witnessed the emergence of global governance initiatives aimed at ameliorating the negative effects of large-scale commercial agricultural acquisitions. But low-income countries seeking to reform land governance have encountered serious obstacles. Tanzania is just such a case. For years, rural populations and feminist groups have been crying foul over forced displacement, corrupt land dealing, and the marginalization of women. Yet Tanzania has long been praised for its progressive efforts to recognize customary land tenure and promote gender equality in both land rights and participation in land governance. From the outside, one might think that Tanzania has successfully balanced global agricultural investment with local practices. But this is not necessarily the case. Why haven’t these Tanzanian measures been able to prevent unjust outcomes? This dissertation assesses global land governance initiatives with reference to Tanzania’s struggles to implement land governance reform. It argues that the road to land reform is complicated by oversimplified assumptions about gender in the governance of land. To develop this argument, this dissertation analyzes two prominent global land initiatives: the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment (PRAI) and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Land Tenure. By employing a gender-sensitive global governance framework, this dissertation expands the scholarly definition of governance by considering practices ordinarily excluded from traditional analysis. These include family and community forms of governance, which have a profound effect on the way global- and national-level policies are enacted. In doing so, this analysis illustrates obstacles to land reform, the limits of liberal rights-based frameworks, and the folly of considering land deals as a strictly global-level and gender-neutral process. Indeed, the global land deal is revealed to be at once local and global, embedded in a complex of socio-political gendered relationships.
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