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Indirect Dispossession: Domestic Power Imbalances and Foreign Access to Land in Mozambique

By: Madeleine Fairbairn

This paper seeks to reexamine the global land grabbing phenomenon in light of domestic power imbalances.  Studies of the dramatic rise in large-scale land acquisitions throughout the developing world have typically focused upon the activities and responsibilities of foreign investors. While foreign investors’ motivations and strategies are certainly significant, the nuances and complexities of domestic political, social, and economic dynamics must also be considered. This detailed case study of Mozambique reveals how traditional elites, politically connected businessmen, bureaucrats and high-ranking politicians each play a fundamental role in determining the nature and feasibility of foreign investment projects. Even in countries such as Mozambique with constitutional and legislative protections for the land and resource rights of rural communities, communities may be dispossessed if elites have an incentive and an opportunity to use their privileged status to override the rights of communities.

Keywords: Domestic power imbalances, elite capture, foreign investment, Land Law (Mozambique), development framework, land governance.

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Uploaded on: Jul 25, 2015
Last Updated: Dec 04, 2015
Year Published: 2013
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