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May 2022 Vol. 59 No. 9

Cornell University Press

The following review appeared in the May 2022 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Social & Behavioral Sciences
Business, Management & Labor

Land fictions: the commodification of land in city and country, ed. by D. Asher Ghertner and Robert W. Lake. Cornell, 2021. 342p bibl index ISBN 9781501753732, $125.00; ISBN 9781501753749 ebook, $22.99.

The eye-opening table of contents of this important essay collection provides a vivid preview of corruption and transactional dealings among wealthy, powerful, and influential groups in their role as manipulators, through fictitious deals and persuasive campaigns, who encourage advantageous change as applied to land and properties mainly owned by themselves. Taking a global approach, this collection of 12 essays by 15 authors results from the eighth biennial MaGrann Conference, hosted in 2015 by the geography department of Rutgers University. Common themes surface across the various geographic settings discussed, spanning locations from Cambodia to Camden, New Jersey. The power of the oratory facilitates engagement with readers as authors describe all that commodifying land can realize. Property is universally a promising commodity, and profit is the projected outcome. Contributing authors share the view that land is a speculative creation motivating well-defined campaigns intended to convince willing buyers that a consistent increase in financial value is imminent. Both fieldwork and archival study are reflected in this largely empirical collection. The bibliography provides a rich multidisciplinary collection of recommendations allowing readers to pursue further insights. One caveat is that inclusion of more photographs and maps would have helped provide context and supported the essays significantly.

--L. Yacher, emeritus, Southern Connecticut State University

Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals.