The neoliberal governmentality of land-deals : a Foucauldian analysis of South-South development cooperation
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In the past decade, Africa‟s agricultural land has been subjected to acquisition from a variety of actors across the globe. Their interest in arable soil forms part of a broader attempt to either promote domestic food and energy security or to obtain financial returns on speculative investments. Indeed, although attempts at trying to measure the land-grab phenomenon are highly problematic, research confirms the significant interest of foreign actors in African soil – especially for biofuel production. This dissertation looks at how the land-grab phenomenon has been framed and presented to African governments as development opportunities. Informed by Michel Foucault‟s conceptualisation of power-knowledge, discourse and government, the study looks at the manner in which the discourse of development frames Africa as a continent that is in dire need of capital. Focusing on land acquisitions for the production of biofuels, this dissertation examines how such framings have triggered a range of practices in order to accommodate rising interest in farmland as well as the implications thereof for the way in which land and human existence is defined in discourses of development. By making use of a discourse analysis methodology, I look at documents such as development policies, press releases, summit declarations and statements made by state actors to draw attention to the ways in which discourses maintain or shape power relations in society. My analysis pertains to the following countries: Mozambique, Ethiopia, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Mali. I also point out the undeniable resemblances between the current land-grab and historical colonial encounters. However, special attention is given to new actors that have emerged on the scene, especially the South-South multilateral forum, BRICS. I look at the diplomatic technologies employed by BRICS members to facilitate FDI in Africa under the auspices of a South-South cooperation that seeks to promote the development of the Global South by instilling virtues such as solidarity, equality and mutual benefit. By explaining how the idea of South-South cooperation is essentially produced by regimes of knowledge and truth by the West, claims that South-South cooperation is „different‟ are rejected. Ultimately, I seek to draw attention to the ways in which discourses such as development, shape certain practices and power relations on a global and domestic level that enable those particular actors who seen as the most „efficient‟ owners of land, to eventually benefit from Africa‟s land resources.
- Humanities