Land Grabbing and NGO Advocacy in Liberia: A Deconstruction of the ‘Homogeneous Community"


Gilfoy, Kieran. 2015. “Land Grabbing and NGO Advocacy in Liberia: A Deconstruction of the ‘homogeneous Community.’” African Affairs 114 (455): 185–205. doi:10.1093/afraf/adu078.


Author: Kieran Gilfoy


The literature on the “new global land grab” has to date been preoccupied with macro and theoretical studies, resulting in a lack of in-depth local studies. This article uses a Liberian case study and quasi-anthropological methods to address this imbalance. In Liberia, historical confrontations over resource access that are tied to issues of land ownership have been given new life by the interjection of a Malaysian palm oil corporation. Elders, as the biggest potential losers in the confiscation of land, have successfully linked themselves to NGOs and transnational advocacy campaigns that publicize land grabbing and pressure for international standards and compliance. At the same time, young men who largely came of age during the civil war have been rendered invisible and palpably frustrated. In exploring the generational divide that has characterized the Sime Darby plantation, this article not only reveals that land grabbing has its supporters as well as its detractors, but also unmasks the role that NGO advocacy networks play in local politics and in shaping the narratives that the wider world hears about the response of African communities to new development trends. 


Topics: Civil Wars, Development, Extractive Industries, Land Grabbing, NGOs, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Liberia

Year: 2015

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