Ethnography of a Land Grab and Gendered Coping Strategies in Northern Sierra Leone

Käser, Fabian; Marfurt, Franziska (8 July 2015). Ethnography of a Land Grab and Gendered Coping Strategies in Northern Sierra Leone (Unpublished). In: ECAS 2015: 6th European Conference on African Studies. Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. 08.-10.07.2015.

Despite an increased scientific interest in the relatively new phenomenon of large-scale land acquisition (LSLA), data on the implementation of such projects and their impacts on the heterogeneous group of project-affected people are still sparse and superficial. Our ethnographic in-depth research on a Swiss-based bioenergy project in Sierra Leone generates well-documented data and provides insights into gendered access to land and wage employment.
In the area where the project is located, customary land tenure applies. Thereby, women are structurally discriminated since they are not entitled to own land. However, user rights grant women and non-landowning men access to land and associated resources. Following the investing development banks’ guidelines, the company considered the local customary law when implementing its project. Nevertheless, the company only consulted and compensated landowners although women and non-landowning men could previously benefit from acquired land as well. Moreover, the company’s policy to enhance employment possibilities for women is barely implemented, and only few local women are hired.
In order to cope with the transformed situation some women and non-landowning men continue to engage in subsistence farming on a reduced area of land. Others are involved in informal petty-trade or cooking food for the labourers whereby they subsidize the capitalist production of the company. In one village, women resisted additional land takes of the company. Acting within the framework of a specific power constellation on community level and simultaneously accommodating their claims within policy paradigms on transnational level, they were able to force a landowner to refuse leasing land to the company.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Social Anthropology

UniBE Contributor:

Käser, Fabian David


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




Fabian Käser

Date Deposited:

14 Jul 2015 16:44

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:26

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Large scale land acquisitions, gender, land tenure and user-rights, employment, social anthropology, human geography Sierra Leone


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