In Ethiopia, large-scale land acquisitions have been growing ever larger over the last few years, mainly in the lowland parts of the country. A substantial amount of land has already been acquired by both domestic and foreign investors in the Benishangul-Gumuz region. The land acquisitions pose apparent threats to the economic, cultural and ecological survival of local indigenous communities. In particular, Gumuz ethnic groups, who depend on customary forms of land access and control, and whose livelihoods are based heavily on access to natural resources, are being differentially affected. Through a case study in some selected administrative districts of the Benishangul-Gumuz region, this paper uses empirical evidence to examine how local indigenous communities are engaging with or challenging the recent land acquisitions. By doing so, the paper shows how the apparent silence of the Gumuz people regarding the land acquisitions is misleading. It shows how local communities, although not organized either politically or economically, express their discontent in differentiated ways against the state and social forces – particularly over land and access to employment, and around state politics. As I show in this paper, local reactions range from covert to more open forms of resistance.

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The Journal of Peasant Studies
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Moreda, T. (2015). Listening to their silence? The political reaction of affected communities to large-scale land acquisitions: insights from Ethiopia. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 42(3-4), 517–539. doi:10.1080/03066150.2014.993621