Significantly, in drawing from the theory of collective action framing, this work brings a new perspective, and therefore new insights, to the study of agrarian activism around land grabbing.tions in academic journals prior to 2009, to numerous special edition journals, well-attended global conferences, and the publication of hundreds of working and peer-reviewed papers as I write this in early-2104, land grabbing now assumes a central place in agri-food scholarship. The take-up of the study of land grabbing by critical agrarian scholars has seen the research problem defined by a particular set of questions, essentially concerned with exploring the reason land grabbing is occurring and the resulting implications for agrarian societies. Research contributions made so far under the rubric of land grabbing are significant for understanding the relationship between recent shifts in global capital and land control. Moreover, contributions are increasingly sensitive to the narrative contestations occurring around this topic. This work adds to the growing body of literature around land grabbing by examining the way social movement organisation have worked to develop and transmit the land grabbing narrative. Taking a view of land grabbing as a social construct, this work adds new insights to the questions: who is constructing land grabbing? How are they doing so? How does the land grabbing construct relate to people’s experiences of land access? And how meaningful is the land grabbing narrative for affecting change?
Taking a case of land grabbing in the Office du Niger, Mali, this work examines the actions of four key organisations central to the development of the land grabbing narrative in Mali: GRAIN, FIAN, Oxfam and La Via Campesina. Using interviews with key members of these organisations, participant observation at anti-land grabbing events, and analysing documents produced by these organisations, this research finds that together, these organisations drew from a rights-based frame –adapted from La Via Campesina’s rights-based agenda – to construct land grabbing as problematic. Together, the organisations put forward a solution to the problem of land grabbing by drawing on the concept of food sovereignty. Drawing from the theories of collective action framing and political ecology, as well as findings from interviews, focus groups and participant observation with farmers living in the Office du Niger, I argue that land grabbing, as constructed by the organisations investigated in this work, is only partially relevant to people’s experiences of land access in Mali, particularly women’s’. As a result, land grabbing, as constructed by the organisations examined here, may not find resonance with people in Mali. Arguably, this has implications for the efficacy of the land grabbing frame to mobilise people to take action to stop land grabbing.
Significantly, in drawing from the theory of collective action framing, this work brings a new perspective, and therefore new insights, to the study of agrarian activism around land grabbing.