Sudan is among the global ‘hotspots’ for large-scale land acquisitions. Although most were thought to occur in the country’s north, recent research indicates a surprising number of large-scale land acquisitions have taken place in the South in recent years. Now that Southern Sudanese have opted for independence, investment activity will likely increase.

This paper presents preliminary data concerning large-scale land acquisitions in two ‘Green Belt’ states of Southern Sudan: Central Equatoria and Western Equatoria. It explores the concept ‘land belongs to the community’, a statement taken up by communities in their demand for greater involvement in decision-making regarding community lands. It also examines processes of company–community engagement and the extent to which rural communities are involved in investment projects. Finally, the paper presents case studies that illustrate the complex interplay between cultural sovereignty, conflict, and post-war reconstruction in Southern Sudan. It concludes with recommendations for the government moving forward.