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Special Issue Politics and Power in Land Administration Reform (PPLA)

The research initiative PPLA is seeking interested scholars to join a “research cluster”, whose objective will be to publish a special issue on politics and power in land administration reform in a reputable academic journal.

Despite a number of welcome developments in recent years, including the emergence of “continuum of land rights” approaches, significant gaps remain between the findings of an increasingly critical scientific literature on land administration reform, and land administration as a public policy domain.

In order to address some of these gaps, we are keen to hear from anyone whose research relates to the broad themes outlined below. The research cluster will be strongly interdisciplinary, and seek to cover a diverse array of geographical settings.

  • The diversity of ways in which “legalisation” and “formalisation” processes are mediated by political and social relationships that exist within often extreme asymmetries of power.

  • The opportunities such processes provide for facilitating rather than preventing disenfranchisement and dispossession through processes like land grabbing.

  • Modalities by which such processes intersect with and impact upon disparities based on gender, ethnicity and religious minority status.

  • Tensions between local, customary notions of land rights and State-led formalisation processes, including conflicting conceptions of legitimacy and justice.

  • How the political-administrative compartmentalisation of “land administration” relates to the oft-stated aspirations of such processes to achieve equitable and pro-poor outcomes, for example national inheritance legislation and the relationship of natural resources like forests and water bodies to “land administration”.

  • The impact of state foreign and security policy on land acquisitions, for example as part of the establishment and expansion of military and naval infrastructure.

  • How the European Union’s Global Strategy and development policy relate to these issues.

Anyone can register their interest for further updates by sending an email to

Potential participants are asked to submit abstracts of no more than 500 words to the same email address by the 31st January 2021.

On the basis of submitted abstracts, participants will be invited to join a “working group”, that will convene remotely by the last week of February 2021.

Working / background papers will be circulated among the group by early May 2021.

These papers will form the basis of a two-day working session, in principle to be held as a physical conference in Dhaka in late September / early October, and there will be a modest budget available to support travel and accommodation expenses. If continuing Covid prevalence makes this option unworkable, remote arrangements will be organised, potentially involving more flexible timings to take time differences into account.

The aim will be to have an agreed framework for the special issue by the end of the working session, as well as an agreed target journal.

While all are welcome to engage with this initiative, it may be of particular interest to early career researchers.

For further information, please contact Dr Oliver Scanlan at the Center for Sustainable Development, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, at

Read more about the initiative here.