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The land of our ancestors: property rights, social resistance and alternatives to land grabbing in Madagascar

Research output: Working paper


Publication date2013
Place of publicationThe Hague
PublisherLand Deals Politics Initiative
Original languageEnglish


This study focuses on a well-known biofuel battleground in Madagascar, highlighting the first case of successful social resistance against contemporary land grabs. Given recent critique of biofuels, producers have begun to shift away from large-scale commercial acquisitions and towards smaller integrated production alongside social and economic development. Parallel to this new wave of agrofuel capitalism, there is a push to secure tenure and stimulate agricultural investment in land and markets,and while foreign aid projects are beginning to address land rights in Madagascar, most of its agricultural zones remain under extremely complex tenure systems of overlapping state and customary claims. As competing visions of land securitization take hold, significant questions remain regarding whether new laws are an adequate alternative for protecting rural Malagasy from dispossession of livelihood resources under agrofuel capitalism. I demonstrate how new land reforms have helped to create an environment of confusion and mistrust around land reform and have facilitated access to land and labor through the fracture of tenuous social relations and promotion of rural differentiation.