Financialisation of Land in the Global South: Households as New Drivers

Nirmal Roy V P  | 2019


The conversion of rural land from being a productive asset within agriculture into a speculative asset has received considerable attention through the extensive literature on ‘land grabs’ and ‘accumulation by dispossession’. Bulk of this literature however emphasise the role of global capital and its search for new outlets for investment in driving the process of speculative investment and dispossession. Taking issue with that, a few scholars point out that there are also imperatives of domestic/national capital accumulation independent of the dynamic of global capital that contribute to financialisation of land. In this paper, we however point to another important driver, that of households in the global south. Based on data from the All India Debt and Investment Surveys (AIDIS) and land registration data from the Indian state of Kerala for the decade 2004-2014, we argue that households embedded within a financialised macro regime of accumulation contribute to the process of financialisation of land by investing their savings in rural land for speculative purposes. We point out that majority of households not only hold their savings in the form of landed assets, but also seek to maximise returns through speculative investments in land. We also show that such financialisation processes contributes to rural land use shifts away from agriculture and hence affect agrarian livelihoods. We therefore call for a ‘nested scalar’ approach to understanding the drivers and outcomes of financialisation of rural land in the global south.