This chapter addresses a phenomenon of wide significance for past and future agricultural potential – landesque capital. This is understood as investments made in land with an anticipated life beyond that of the present crop, or crop cycle. Irrigation canals and agricultural terraces are the most obvious forms of landesque capital, but the clearance of stones and the improvement of agricultural soils over the years are other, albeit less spectacular, examples. It is argued, that alongside the more obvious factors of climate and soil, the distribution of landesque capital – and hence the history of land use – is as an important factor in understanding global differences in the productivity of agricultural lands. The occurrence of landesque capital has, over the years, been explained from a number of different perspectives: as a direct or indirect reflection of semi-arid and arid lands, as the result of diffusion, as a consequence of historical ‘siege’ situations, or as resulting from the accumulation strategies of chiefdoms and empires. It is argued that most of these general approaches to the explanation of landesque capital make the mistake of not fully taking into account the spatial aspect of landesque capital. They tend to reflect an historic and economic rather than a geographical understanding of investments. Unlike monetary capital, which is fluid in space but fixed in time, landesque capital is fixed in space but “fluid” in time. The chronological and social contexts of its use, management and further development, can differ significantly from the contexts that once shaped it.
AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek , 2007. 61-78 p.