"The mid-2000s saw the emergence of large-scale land acquisitions. While processes of agricultural ‘land grabbing’ have received considerable global attention, particularly in Africa, the land grabbing issue in the countries of the post-Soviet region has gone largely unnoticed
This research proposal aims to explore this omission in the ‘land grab’ debate by studying the case of Russia. The main research question is: To what extent and how has global land grabbing occurred in Russia, with what implications to local communities, and how have local communities resisted or modified these land deals (if at all)?
The proposed research is pertinent by providing a case distinct from other regions, which is likely to raise new insights on global land grabbing. Several features make the case of Russia remarkably divergent. First, whereas in most parts of the world the current trends see an increase in population density and marginal and forest land being converted into cultivated land, Russia is witness to massive land abandonment and reforestation. Another particular feature is the low level presence of an autonomously organized civil society (which also manifests on the issue of land grabbing contestation).
This research will be the first comprehensive study of land grabbing and related rural social movements in Russia and the post-Soviet area at large. Rural movements have been studied mainly in Latin-America, Africa and Asia. In contrast, research on rural movements in post/reform socialist contexts (such as China) is still in its infancy, and practically absent in Russia. The proposed research aims to establish a new field of ‘(post)-socialist land grabbing and rural social mobilisation’ studies. Moreover, it will contribute to more broad debates on civil society and protest in state dominated, post/reform-socialist countries, by studying these issues from the perspective of the (mostly ignored) rural areas."
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