PluriLand: Theorizing Conflict and Contestation in Plural Land Rights Regimes

Project Team: Rachel Sieder (Project leader), Tatiana Alfonso, Helena Alviar, Lara Cortes, Jackie Dugard, Mekonnen Firew Ayano, Siri Gloppen, Namita Wahi.

Advisory board: Daniel Brinks, Aninka Claassens, Duncan Kennedy and Alf Gunvald Nilsen.

The PluriLand project aims to develop a theory of land rights claiming in plural legal regimes through cross-regional investigation of conflicts over land affecting the land rights of vulnerable communities. Despite the protection of indigenous, traditional and/or communal land rights in many legal systems, such conflicts are rapidly escalating across the globe and are often highly transnational. Yet our knowledge about the mobilization and traction of protective land regimes remains fragmented, localized and weakly theorized.

The primary objective of the project is therefore to develop a new theory of land claiming. A secondary objective is to analyze the effects of different processes of land claiming on the intra-group dynamics of the claimants.

PluriLand will build on and extend current theoretical knowledge about sociolegal mobilization over land claims, determining: how this is related to different kinds of threats; the impacts of the balance of national and international legal sites and frames on both processes of legal mobilization and intra-group dynamics; and the importance of context in processes of legal mobilization.

PluriLand will undertake a profoundly interdisciplinary comparative study of plural land claims and legal regimes and their intragroup effects across six countries – South Africa, Ethiopia, India, Brazil, Guatemala, and Colombia. These countries display a mixture of colonial and non-colonial histories and capture a range of circumstances within and between Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as in terms of periodization of key political moments in contestations over land.

Norwegian Research Council, FRIPRO, 2020 – 2024