Oral Presentation Session - Cosponsored Status Awarded
Sponsored by: Culture and Agriculture
Cosponsored by: Anthropology and Environment Society
Primary Theme: Anthropocene
Secondary Theme: Citizenship
The farm, as a multispecies relational space, traverses boundaries of received categories such as culture, nation, race and kinship. Contemporary agribusiness relies on mobile participants in the global political economy who symbolize the cosmopolitan strivings of modern nations. The plantation-ization of the farm assembles disparate plants, people, technologies, and animals to take advantage of climatic, financial, genetic, and cultural differences. Farms are locations for the production of alternative forms of belonging and fixity, in which intimate relations based on care and shared interests are in formation, as well as superseding the more problematic issues of belonging proffered by state ideologies. Thus, in the Plantationocene processes of estrangement and familiarization work alongside each other to sever social and material relations and realities while generating novel ones.
The past decade has seen a growing interest and concern for global farmland investments in the Global South. National governments in Africa and South America have sought to curb these so-called land grabs by framing land deals with foreigners as dangers to national sovereignty. Several governments have passed laws to limit foreign acquisitions of farm land, capping foreign ownership and mandating majority-ownership by nationals. Brazilian critics of large land acquisitions frame land grabs as estrangerização, or ‘foreignization’ to differentiate it from the home-grown variety of land grabbing, known as grilagem.
However, this perspective also overlooks complexity in types of actors drawn to Brazilian land and flows of capital. The most recent wave of land grabs shows that the ‘foreign threat’ received disproportionate international media coverage to actual land investments. For example, Chinese government-backed farmland investments in Brazil, Mozambique and elsewhere were met with opposition from national legislatures and social movements, though they never materialized in real land use change. Furthermore, of the large-scale acquisitions that did take place, most of the leading actors are not easily identified by any single national origin. Further, in China and Brazil land use change is driven as much by Brazilian migrants from southern Brazil as foreign buyers, blurring the significance of foreign capital and actors. ‘Foreignness’ is a deeply inadequate basis upon which to conceptualize land deals, as land comes under the control of capital whose national affiliation is either unstable, multiple, non-transparent or simply designed to ensure preferential tax treatment. This also introduces important contrasts between ostensible and occult ownership.
We bring together papers that consider how flows of people, capital, and crops generate anxieties, assemblages, and intimacies.