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Governing precarious lives: land grabs, geopolitics, and ‘food security’

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Publication Date: 2014-01-14

Journal Title: The Geographical Journal

Publisher: Wiley on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers)

Volume: 181

Issue: 4

Pages: 340-349

Language: English

Type: Article

Metadata: Show full item record

Citation: Nally, D. (2014). Governing precarious lives: land grabs, geopolitics, and ‘food security’. The Geographical Journal, 181 (4), 340-349.

Description: This is the accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Wiley at

Abstract: This paper has a two-part structure. The first part of the paper explores contemporary land grabs and shows how they both reflect and constitute a new neo-liberal governance structure over land and land-based resources. In this sense what is noteworthy about land grabs is their world-making capacity: the deals structure and make possible new relations of power in the global food economy. For this very reason it is crucial to understand how land grabs affect both the pace and direction of agrarian change. The second part of the paper examines the discursive strategies that align ‘food security’ concerns with land grabbing practices. Here I suggest that ‘food security’ supplies a moral sanction for land grabs. By mustering public empathy around a desire to ‘feed the future’, food security discourse – to borrow an idea from Fassin (2012) – converts a relationship of dominance (the governance of precarious lives) into a relationship of assistance (the provision of a remedy).

Keywords: food security, land grabs, geopolitics, political economy, governmentality, agriculture


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Autor: Nally, David



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