Governing Land and Landscapes: Political Ecology of Enclosures and Commons

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"Most of the world’s food is still produced by small farmers, many of whom remain organized though customary land tenure. Customary tenure is a general term for specific cultural ways in which farmers embedded in ecological contexts allocate rights and obligations to use land, including cultivation, forest, grazing, and water. These are always unique, but they share the quality of not being centrally based on the kinds of land markets created in so-called advanced economies. An important feature at the present moment is direct appropriation of land and conversion of customary land use into private titles to specific plots of land. These include major deals with national governments in Africa and throughout the world to make huge areas of land (or water necessary to use the land) available to national elites, foreign governments, or large corporations. They also include international aid policies which, in trying to encourage small farmers to participate more directly in world markets, encourage a shift to individual titles. These actions threaten to dissolve the capacity of communities to govern the land as social and ecological conditions change."
commons, governance and politics