Over the past several decades, land investments have dramatically increased to meet global food and biofuel demands, produce industrial commodities, protect environments and develop urban centres. Scholars and media actors have labelled this phenomenon “land grabbing”, owing to its many negative impacts. Since existing knowledge was generated from individual case-studies, global land grabbing patterns are relatively underexamined, and broader extrapolations of results to inform land grabbing theories are limited. Thus, there is an urgent need to conduct a large-N
analyse on existing knowledge of land grabbing to enhance the understanding of the state-of-the-art knowledge and identify the gaps in research. We conducted a critical review of existing scholarly literature on case studies of land grabbing. Based on formal criteria, we selected 128 case studies from 124 articles out of 252 peer-reviewed articles published since 2007. We examined geographic distribution and commonly referenced topics in existing research and the clarified environmental and socioeconomic outcomes of land grabbing, presenting the most current knowledge on the topic to date. Findings from this research also revealed substantial gaps in the existing literature in terms of conceptualization, methodology and research area. The paper concludes with a call for more interdisciplinary, holistic research that looks at broader regional/temporal contexts and the inclusion of more evidence-based data.
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