Recent work from the CFI Network

Protecting Injustice: How a Reformed Resource Property Regime Maintains Inequality

Transnational Institute

The way that ownership and control of land and resources is managed and understood is changing globally, even as changes in financial markets and the climate catastrophe are putting increasing pressure on land and land-based resources.  The changes taking place can appear progressive and positive – for example, more and more governments and other actors now recognize collective ownership of land. But the way change is taking place is less transformative than it looks and is in fact creating new opportunities for corporations to profit from land and natural resources, to the detriment of local communities. Our latest report explores how and why this change is taking place, what actors are helping to shape our understanding and management of land and natural resources, and who stands to benefit and to lose from these changes. You can download the report here: and spread the word on social media

Commodity Frontiers and Global Capitalist Expansion: Social, Ecological and Political Implications from the Nineteenth Century to the Present Day

Sabrina Joseph, editor

Palgrave Macmillan, 2019

This interdisciplinary edited collection explores the dynamics of global capitalist expansion through the concept of the ‘commodity frontier’. Applying an inductive approach rather than starting at the global level, as most meta-narratives have done, this book sheds light on how local dynamics have shaped the process of capitalist expansion into ‘uncommodified’ spaces. Contributors demonstrate that ultimately the evolution of frontier zones and their reconfiguration over time have transformed human ecology, labour relations and social, economic and political structures across the globe. Chapters examine agricultural and pastoral frontiers, natural habitats, and commodity frontiers with fossil fuels and mineral resources located in various regions of the world, including South America, Asia, Africa and the Arabian Gulf. 

Analytical framework for conflicts over land in the context of global crises

In their recent publication “Analysing land conflicts in times of global crises”, Kristina Dietz and Bettina Engels develop a framework to empirically analyse conflicts over land in the context of global crises; published in Geoforum.


In this article, a framework is developed to empirically analyse conflicts over land in the context of global crises. This framework aims to overcome the trap of a dichotomous and hierarchical construction of ‘local’ conflicts over land resulting from ‘global’ crises. Building on an action-oriented concept of conflict and a dialectical understanding of structure–agency relations informed by historical materialism, an analytical framework is suggested comprising four dimensions: structures, institutions, agency, and the narratives and meaning making of actors.

With Blood and Sweat: How America and Europe became Rich thanks to Slavery

Sven Beckert and Pepijn Brandon published a new article in the German paper, NZZamSongtag on 27.6.2020. Read it (in German) here.

Global Gold Production Touching Ground: Expansion, Informalization, and Technological Innovation

Boris Verbrugge and Sara Geenen, editors

Palgrave Macmillan, 2020

In recent decades, gold mining has moved into increasingly remote corners of the globe. Aside from the expansion of industrial gold mining, many countries have simultaneously witnessed an expansion of labor-intensive and predominantly informal artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Both trends are usually studied in isolation, which contributes to a dominant image of a dual gold mining economy.

Counteracting this dominant view, this volume adopts a global perspective, and demonstrates that both industrial gold mining and artisanal and small-scale gold mining are functionally integrated into a global gold production system. It couples an analysis of structural trends in global gold production (expansion, informalization, and technological innovation) to twelve country case studies that detail how global gold production becomes embedded in institutional and ecological structures.

The Making of a Periphery: How Island Southeast Asia Became a Mass Exporter of Labor

Ulbe Bosma

Columbia University Press, 2019

Island Southeast Asia was once a thriving region, and its products found eager consumers from China to Europe. Today, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia are primarily exporters of their surplus of cheap labor, with more than ten million emigrants from the region working all over the world. How did a prosperous region become a peripheral one?

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