CfP POLLEN20 – (Re)making rangelands as new investment frontiers: Case studies, critiques and alternative futures

Session Proposal for Third Biennial Conference of POLLEN
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Session organisers

Charis Enns (, Kennedy Mkutu ( and Marie Müller-Koné (

Session abstract

Nearly half the Earth’s land surface is classified as rangelands, which are areas where vegetation consists predominantly of grasses, grass-like plants and shrubs that can be grazed by livestock and wildlife. Rangelands contribute to the preservation of biodiversity and provide essential environmental services at local and global levels. Rangelands also  support the livelihoods of more than 500 million people around the world – many of whom are pastoralists.

However, globally, those that rely on rangelands are facing multiple, overlapping crises. The degradation of rangelands is a major global concern with some estimates suggesting that nearly 57 percent are now degraded and unable to sustain people and biodiversity. At the same time, rangelands are being rapidly converted for other uses, including industrial agriculture and livestock production, mining and mineral extraction, urban and infrastructure development, biodiversity conservation, afforestation and climate change adaptation. The narratives driving rangeland conversion – as well as the actors incentivising it – are multiple, complex and contradictory. We are interested in understanding how and why rangelands are being (re)made as new frontiers of investment and the implications of this process.

Specifically, we invite papers that explore questions such as:

  • What are the discourses, logics and practices used to legitimise the large-scale enclosure and transformation of rangelands? Who are the actors that are incentivising rangeland conversion? Are these actors the same or different than those driving other types of land conversion/land grab? Is there anything unique about rangelands?
  • How are the languages, logics and practices of policing, militarization, (in)security, surveillance and violence enabling the large-scale enclosure and transformation of rangelands? How do these changes in practices and institutions of organized violence affect dynamics of peace and conflict in the rangelands?
  • Does the (re)making of rangelands as new investment frontiers resolve, displace, reproduce or deepen the environmental, economic and social crises that rangelands face?
  • Is there potential to address the crises that rangelands face without transforming them into new frontiers of investment? (i.e. strengthening communal governance, formalising recognition for Community Conserved Areas, securing land tenure rights etc.)

In addition to being of academic interest, the topic of this panel is timely as global momentum builds for an International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralism and international organisations, such as the United Nations, confirm that there are significant gaps in knowledge and data on rangelands globally.

We are hoping for theoretical and empirical contributions that engage with the questions outlined above in different contexts across the Global South or Global North. We are also open to contributions at various stages of development, including those from early career academics who are still planning their research. Please send a title and abstract (max. 250 words) for your paper or presentation to the session organisers by 20 November 2019. Authors will be notified of their acceptance for the session as soon as possible thereafter.



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