Commons grabbing and agribusiness: Violence, resistance and social mobilization

Jampel Dell'Angelo*, Grettel Navas, Marga Witteman, Giacomo D'Alisa, Arnim Scheidel, Leah Temper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The recent phenomenon of large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) is associated with what has been described as a global agrarian transition. New forms of land exploitation and concentration have led to profound socio-environmental transformations of rural production systems in Latin America, South-East Asia and Sub Saharan Africa. Scholars have pointed out that the expansion of transnational land investments is often associated with detrimental social outcomes, has negative environmental impacts and can represent a potential impediment to the achievement of many SDGs. In this paper, our primary concern is on the mounting evidence that LSLAs preferentially target the commons, in the process altering long-standing customary resource governance systems. While it has been shown that in many instances of commons grabbing associated with LSLAs, different types of social conflict emerge, it is less clear what forms of social mobilization and organized collective re-actions are taking place to defend the commons and contest such processes of dispossession and enclosure. The main aim of this contribution is to fill this gap by synthesizing and describing the different typologies of social mobilization and collective re-actions that emerge as a result of commons grabbing associated with the transnational expansion of the agribusiness frontier. In order to do this our research synthesizes information from the Environmental Justice Atlas (EJAtlas) shedding light on some of the key characteristics associated with the different forms and dynamics of social mobilization that are organized in reaction to agribusiness-related commons grabbing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107004
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalEcological Economics
Early online date19 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to the two external reviewers and the special issue editor for their excellent and very helpful comments. This work was supported by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) under funding received from the National Science Foundation DBI-1639145. J.D.A. acknowledges support from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sk?odowska-Curie Action (MSCA) Innovative Training Network (ITN) grant agreement No. 861509 ? NEWAVE. A.S. acknowledges funding from the Beatriu de Pin?s postdoctoral programme of the Government of Catalonia's Secretariat for Universities and Research of the Ministry of Economy and Knowledge (2017 BP 00023). G.N. and A.S. acknowledge support from the ERC project ?EnvJustice? (GA 695446). GDA acknowledges the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (UID/SOC/50012/2019). L.T. acknowledges the support of the Leadership for the Ecozoic Program. Thank you to Kyle F. Davis for his help with the map.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Commons grabbing
  • Environmental conflicts
  • Land grabbing
  • Large-scale land acquisitions
  • Social mobilization
  • Violence


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