Political resistance towards international development is a prevalent theme in global civil society and Non-Governmental organizations. The poor are often assumed to indubitably participate in resistance. However, the poor’s participation is both diverse and complex. To understand this complexity, this paper attempts to explain the poor’s acquiescence in incorporation into land grabbing deals. By examining Japan’s discourse of development targeted to Africa, ambivalence of Tokyo International Conference for Africa Development (TICAD) rhetoric of ownership and partnership is described as disappropriately engaging the local populations in transfer of land from local populations to state, interstate apparatus, and transnational corporations for the purpose of large-scale investment in food crops. This has degraded the local environment and uprooted rural livelihoods. The mechanisms to facilitate and legitimise large-scale investment on food production have given shape to social relations, which are more conducive to the vision of a market society and threatened extinction of indigenous communities and impoverishment of rural communities. This expropriation of peasants land has encountered minimum opposition from the local population. This essay identifies “mutuality” as utilised within Japan’s development discourse as depriving rural-landed-poor’s of democratic space for land based contestation. Through an analysis of land grabbing activism in TICAD process, we highlight the limit of global civil society in articulating the context of poor communities.
Key words: Mutuality, resistance and contestation, land grabbing, and activism.
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