The land rush has remained, and is likely to remain, a significant global phenomenon despite waning international media attention. The scope of the phenomenon is likely to be wider than previously thought. Quantifying the extent of land deals in order to study the social phenomenon spotlights the relevance of two distinct but dialectically linked ‘scopes’, namely, the scope of land deals in terms of the precise geographic physical land area of Operational land deals, and the scope of land deals in terms of the larger extent of lands implicated in land deal-making, of which only a part ends up as operational land deals. The latter category is necessarily bigger than the former, and its logic results in the production of Non-operational land deals. Studies have been overwhelmingly about Operational land deals, inadvertently downplaying the relevance of Non-operational land deals. The challenge is to study both Operational and Non-operational land deals because they are co-constitutive.
Our research is part of the research project, ‘Commodity & land rushes and regimes: Reshaping five spheres of global social life’ (RRUSHES-5) funded by the European Research Council Advanced Grant (Grant # 834006). It also earlier received funding from the Transnational Institute (TNI). We would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for the journal for their critical and constructive comments that helped us avoid some embarrassing mistakes, sharpen our argument, and improve the overall quality of the paper. We would like to thank Paula Bownas for the excellent copyediting of the text.