Heterogeneous 'Local' Confronts the 'Global'
LAND TENURE, GENDER AND GLOBALIZATION: RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS FROM AFRICA, ASIA AND LATIN AMERICA
Edited by Dzodzi Tsikata and Pamela Golah
Zubaan and International Development Research Centre, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 299, Rs. 395.00
VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 1 January 2011
Globalization has presented itself as unavoidable, a universal truth supposedlyabove, all the disputes between groups with differentiated power. (Porro: 286)
Superbly written and edited, Land Tenure, Gender and Globalization offers detailedglimpses into the heterogeneous nature of the local, as it confronts and responds to the global, via case studies from Ghana (Mariama Awumbila and Dzodzi Tsikata), Cameroon (Joyce B.M. Endeley), Vietnam (Steffanie Scott et al) and the Amazonian forests of Bolivia, Peru and Brazil (Noemi Miyasaka Porro et al). These distinct community and gendered experiences of land and resource tenures shifting with globalization are impeccably interwoven by introductory and concluding chapters. Whereas Tsikata introduces the book with the main issues that emerge from the studies, Mackenzie situates these and cases from other regions in the concepts of global, local, land and gender; Allison Goebel outlines the various methods of actionbased research on these themes with reference to the cases; and Porro concludes the book with implications for policy and political mobilization towards social change. Together these chapters offer deep and profound insights that are complemented by the rich details provided in the casestudies. In my view, the main lesson of the book: alternatives must be centered on the agency of people at the local level.
Tsikata, A. Fiona D. Mackenzie and Noemi Miyasaka Porro interrogate the hegemonic discourse of the global and refer to globalization as the internationalization of production and finance. The striking variety in local responses mediate the impacts of globalization on land, labour and gender relations and illustrate that the global is mutually constitutive with the local. Mackenzie argues that the onesizefitsall package of neoliberal policies underpinning globalization seeks to reform economies by free market forces. I would add that this view of the global is guided by neoclassical assumptions of selfinterested agents who optimize given perfect competition, perfect information and costless movement through markets. Salient to this givennessof the global (Mackenzie: 39) is social welfare measured by paretooptimality i.e., when none can be made better off without making someone worse off. The strong status quo bias built into this discourse leads to the neoliberal mantra that there is no alternative (Ibid). Porro rightly describes globalization as being presented as the route to prosperity sans poverty and allequal genderless individuals enjoying free market economies (Porro: 279). Ironically, this desired homogenization through free market forces is pushed by the Bretton Woods institutions as loan conditions, and by elite classes, ...
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