The contestations over land continue to remain relevant in the age of capitalist industrialization. While in the pre-industrial world, land clearly maintained a central role in the generation and accumulation of wealth, modern industrialization and the subsequent upheaval of financial wealth circuits have by no means been able to relegate the land question to obscurity. The ever-expanding circuits of capital essentially encroach upon natural resources, including land, at an even faster rate. Thus, conflicts over land-use and ownership remain central to modern development discourses.
In recent decades, many developing countries have grappled with the issue of land either in their domestic economic policies or as part of international land deals driven by interests of transnational corporations. Given the broader contours of development, the use of ‘land resources’ clearly cannot be kept ‘frozen in time’. Historically, that has never been an option. However, faster and larger demands for land and the transformation of their use pose major challenges in terms of the processes and agencies involved. Is the state better than the market as an agency for this transformation?