On the edge of the plantation

Special report. Grounded companies and the role of states
Intermediation, protest, and adaptation to “land grabbing” in Côte d’Ivoire
By Jacobo Grajales, Marie Saiget

Agribusiness investment has an overarching and growing influence in a wide range of rural areas. In Africa, Latin America, and South Asia, but also the post-communist world, agribusiness territories are described as “enclaves,” encountering the opposition of “local communities” who fight in resistance against “land grabbing”. While reckoning with the intractable issues related to agribusiness activities, this contribution intends to complexify this narrative, emphasizing the multiple ways in which the establishment of a firm can reconfigure power relations and the dynamics of collective mobilization at the local level. It then highlights the existence of a continuum between intermediation activities, the most visible forms of protest, and the more prosaic modalities of adaptation, which become apparent as we look more closely at the relationships between local mobilizations and transnational activism. These various forms of action ultimately contribute to developing the social and political grounding of the corporation. This proposition is put into practice in the study of a territory marked by agribusiness palm oil production—the Ivorian region of Sud-Comoé—and documented by several repeated field trips between 2016 and 2019.

  • land conflicts
  • collective action
  • agribusiness
  • women
  • Côte d’Ivoire
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