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9 November 2009

Welcome to the blog of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies!   Here,  PLAAS researchers will be setting out their views and findings on key aspects of the politics and economics of land and agrarian change in Southern Africa.  PLAAS, of course,  has been doing this for some time: since 1995, it has been doing cutting-edge use-oriented basic research on these issues.  We have published extensively, and much of our research is available from our website here.

In this website, however, we are trying something different.   Increasingly, we have come to believe that our research and our questions should not only be directed at an audience of specialists.  True, ‘speaking truth to power’ is one important way in which engaged social scientists can contribute:  good research and good policy advice, aimed at decisionmakers who can make a difference, is one way in which organizations like PLAAS can have impact.

But change does not just come from policymakers.  Policy in South Africa needs to be forged in democratic debate, and a key role for PLAAS is to contribute to that debate, making democracy stronger by ensuring that there is an independent voice speaking forthrightly to the core issues — and providing independent perspectives and reliable information to other participants in the debate.

This blog is one attempt to do this.  Here, you will encounter various researchers and commentators linked to PLAAS as an organization — either as researchers or as associates.   This will be a space where we — and you — can speak and argue and debate about key issues relating to land and agrarian change in the subcontinent.  Research and theory and data will figure heavily here.  But it will not be a purely academic space.  Hopefully the articles posted here will not only be well researched and rigorously argued, but also punchy, thought-provoking, even provocative.  (This is why PLAAS researchers will be publishing in their individual capacities. You may even find us disagreeing with one another from time to time…  and we certainly h0pe you will join the debate!)

We from the editorial team — for now, that’s Obiozo Ukpabi, our Policy Dialogue  Officer, and myself, as Acting Director — will exercise our editorial responsibilities with a light hand.  All points of view are welcome here.  Hate speech, personal attacks, and offtopic posts will of course be deleted.  We hope you enjoy this blog, and that you enjoy taking part.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 13 November 2009 8:47 am

    Congrats to PLAAS for getting this blog going. It provides useful, up to date info, also thought provoking, where one can get up to speed quickly on key land and agrarian issues.

    I have had some limited experience of land reform projects on the ground over the recent months and am struck by two things: 1. The owners of the land are really struggling to use the value of their new asset to their economic advantage, and only where they have entered into partnerships with institutions skilled in a particular area, are they making progress. 2. There is an urgency at local level – from new owners, from surrounding farmers, and the private sector partner – to make development work: a local determination to realise the value of the asset.

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