Call for Papers – Nature as Climate Solution? Exploring the Political Ecologies of Nature-based Carbon Removal

Call for Papers – Nature as Climate Solution? Exploring the Political Ecologies of Nature-based Carbon Removal

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN 20)

Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration 

Brighton, United Kingdom

24-26 June 2020

Organizers: Wim Carton, Kate Dooley, Jens Friis Lund

In the belief that emission reductions will be insufficient to keep global warming within the temperature targets agreed in Paris, scientists and policy makers are taking an increased interest in ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere. One of the more popular ways to go about this involves the use of so-called ‘nature-based solutions’, meaning the increased sequestration of carbon in soils, forests and other ecosystems. A number of recent, high-profile papers demonstrate a burgeoning hope that this could be achieved at large scale, making a significant contribution to climate mitigation [1,2]. This idea has appealed to a wide spectrum of actors, from anti-capitalist climate activists, such as Greta Thunberg and Naomi Klein [3], to airlines, agrobusinesses, and fossil fuel industries. 

There are clear conflicts between the interests of these different actors and the specific meaning they give to nature-based carbon removal. On the one hand, nature-based solutions are put forward as a comprehensive way to halt and potentially reverse the combination of unsustainable land use, land use emissions and rapid biodiversity loss [4,5]. The recent IPCC report on Climate Change and Land [6], as well as the IPBES 2019 Global Assessment Report [7] both speak to the urgency of drastic action on these interconnected issues. On the other hand, nature-based solutions are being imagined as a way to help offset a continued dependence on fossil fuels. One much-quoted study for example concludes that “[n]atural climate solutions can provide 37% of cost-effective CO2 mitigation needed through 2030” [1], whereas only 24% of greenhouse gas emissions originate from land use. Major polluters have also taken an interest, with for example oil majors such as Shell and Eni announcing plans to invest in nature-based solutions as a way to offset their continued emissions [8,9]. 

These emergent discourses and indeed many of the solutions that are being proposed will be familiar to political ecologists, who have worked extensively on for example REDD+ and carbon offsets. However, the scale of proposed nature-based interventions to respond to overshooting the carbon budget is new. What is being proposed is far-reaching land use changes on a planetary scale. This raises urgent questions about potential tradeoffs, implications for climate justice, environmental governance, and the broader politics of how this debate is unfolding. Are calls for nature-based solutions setting the scene for a new surge of investment in land across the globe – a new impending ‘green grab’, or is there potential here for community-owned, democratic and progressive forms of carbon removal? What new narratives and discourses are accompanying the surge in interest in carbon removal? What role do researchers play in performing different discourses around nature-based solutions, and what role can they take to prevent sound proposals from being coopted by vested interests? In what ways does this discourse and the emergent stakeholder coalitions differ from that of for example REDD+? What lessons can be drawn from historical political ecology/environmental history about the prospects of implementing environmental interventions at the scales proposed? 

Political ecologists are well-placed to help answer these questions. They can help unpack, contextualize and problematize emergent discourses around nature-based solutions, and connect debates, such as around climate change responses and biodiversity losses, that are often treated separately. 

This session aims to mobilize the extensive knowledge on forest governance and REDD+ (among others) within the political ecology community and use it to reflect on the wider and emerging discourse of nature-based climate solutions. We thus invite papers that explore, among other things:

  • The emergence, dissemination and evolution of (new) discourses and narratives on carbon removal, nature-based solutions and carbon sequestration
  • The emergence of novel actors and constellations of actors promoting and/or contesting discourses and/or practices on nature-based solutions, and the politics this gives rise to 
  • Tradeoffs and synergies between nature-based solutions and food security, biodiversity, and other development objectives
  • Questions of materiality and ecological difference in the prioritization of some “natures” or sequestration efforts over others 
  • Critical feminist, queer and postcolonial perspectives on nature-based removals
  • Utopian explorations of radical alternatives to current climate mitigation responses, including diverse values and practices of knowledge creation that could shape radical responses to climate change and biodiversity loss
  • The politics and governance of accounting for carbon removal in the new context of globally balancing sources and sinks 
  • Theoretical explorations of the role that nature-based carbon removal plays within the wider political economy of climate change mitigation and continued fossil fuel use
  • Critical investigations of new ways in which carbon removal is being commodified, economized and/or financialized

Paper titles and abstracts of 250 words should be sent to, with cc: to and before 10 October 2019.


1. Griscom, B. W., Adams, J., Ellis, P. W., Houghton, R. A., Lomax, G., Miteva, D. A., … Fargione, J. (2017). Natural climate solutions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(44), 11645–11650. doi:10.1073/pnas.1710465114

2. Bastin, J.-F. (2019). The global tree restoration potential. Science, 79(July), 76–79.

3. Thunberg et al. (2019, April 3). A natural solution to the climate disaster. The Guardian. Retrieved from

4. Lewis, S. L., Wheeler, C. E., Mitchard, E. T. A., & Koch, A. (2019). Regenerate natural forests to store carbon. Nature, 568, 25–28. doi:doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-01026-8

5. Seddon, N., Turner, B., Berry, P., Chausson, A., & Girardin, C. A. J. (2019). Grounding nature-based climate solutions in sound biodiversity science. Nature Climate Change, 9(2), 84–87. doi:10.1038/s41558-019-0405-0

6. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (2019). Climate Change and Land: An IPCC Special Report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems – Summary for Policymakers. Retrieved from

7. Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). (2019). Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science- Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Retrieved from

8. Sheppard, D., & Hook, L. (2019). Eni to plant vast forest in push to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The Financial Times,. Retrieved from

9. Shell. (2019). Shell invests in nature as part of broad drive to tackle CO2 emissions. Retrieved August 26, 1BC, from

Job opportunity: Assistant Professor of Sociology in Global Inequality at Illinois State University

Dear Colleagues,

We would welcome applicants from political ecology-oriented scholars for the job description below. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Assistant Professor of Sociology in Global Inequality

Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Position Summary:

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Illinois State University, USA invites applications for a nine-month, tenure track assistant professorship in sociology beginning August 16, 2020. Building on existing departmental strengths in globalization, development, economic and political sociology, we seek a sociologist whose work addresses the global and transnational political economic dynamics relating to the causes and consequences of inequality.  The ideal candidate will be able to teach one or more of the core courses required for our sociology major in addition to offering elective courses in their substantive area of specialization.

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology is committed to increasing the diversity of our campus community. ISU recognizes that a diverse faculty, staff and student body enriches the educational experiences of the entire campus and community. Candidates with experience working with a diverse range of students, staff and faculty, and who can contribute to the climate of inclusivity are especially welcomed. Members of underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.

Required Qualifications:

1. A Ph.D. in sociology or a closely related field is required prior to the start date of this position. ABD’s will be considered if degree conferral date is August 1, 2020 or sooner. 

2. Illinois state law mandates demonstrable oral proficiency in the English language as a requirement for this position.

Application Process:

All application materials must be submitted online at posting number 0712311 In addition to completing a faculty employment application, please prepare in advance the following separate documents: a cover letter describing relevant research and future plans, a full CV, letters from  three academic references , up to three writing samples that serve as evidence of an active research agenda in this substantive area, and a teaching portfolio (listed as “other” in the document section of the application) which includes a teaching philosophy statement, evidence of teaching effectiveness, and a statement on the applicant’s approach to mentoring a diverse student body. To ensure full consideration, apply by September 30, 2019. Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience. Should you have additional questions, please contact Dr. Richard Sullivan, Chair of Search Committee, at or (309)-438-2408.

Illinois State University:

Founded in 1857 as Illinois’ first public university, Illinois State is a coeducational, residential university that emphasizes undergraduate study. Its 34 academic departments in six colleges offer 72 undergraduate programs in more than 160 fields of study.  The Graduate School coordinates 42 masters, two specialist, and 10 doctoral programs. Illinois State ranks among the top 100 public universities in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report 2019 rankings of “National Universities” and has been named a “Great College to Work For” by The Chronicle of Higher Education. For more information, please visit our website at:

The Community

Bloomington and Normal, Illinois are twin cities with a combined population of 130,000 people. A dynamic college town, Bloomington‐Normal is only a short train ride away from downtown Chicago and St. Louis, and within easy driving distance of Milwaukee and Indianapolis. In 2017, Bloomington‐Normal was named one of the Best College Towns in America by the American Institute for Economic Research, including a #2 ranking in the “Arts and Entertainment” category. In 2016, Huffington Post named Bloomington one of the “11 Amazing Cities You’ve Never Thought to Live in, But Should.” In 2015, the Town of Normal was ranked #3 on the list of Best Small College Towns in America by College Values Online.

Illinois State University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer

PhD course on local / indigenous knowledge – Deadline 1 September

PhD course to be held in Paris 20-22 November 2019: 

Local / Indigenous knowledge and global mechanisms 

(5 ETC/STP) 

This course is offered by the Anthropology Programme, in the Department of Social Sciences, UiT Arctic University of Norway, in Tromsø 

In cooperation with the project Justice and Indigenous Peoples (JUSTIP) École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. 

The course will be held in Paris and is supported by the Centre Universitaire de Norvège à Paris (CUNP). 

The language of the course will be English 

This course will provide an opportunity to discuss the course topic with experts in the field, including academics and practitioners, in a small group setting. 

You will also be able to receive insightful feedback on your own work. 

The Centre Universitaire de Norvège will provide meals throughout the course, including two dinners for all participants at restaurants in Paris. 


Application for Norwegian students: 

Application for non-Norwegians, or for any questions about the course please contact Jennifer Hays: (+47 40 60 72 22) 

Course Description 

Recent years have seen a surge of interest in indigenous / local knowledge, and its potential to solve both local and global crises. However, in most parts of the world, in-depth, local knowledge is disappearing quickly as people lose their land, and as traditional subsistence strategies – into which this knowledge is integrated – become impracticable. International and national programs designed to safeguard such knowledge have risen to in response to this crisis. To promote local knowledge, its value must be made clear, and “spaces” must be created for its maintenance. This could include, for example: access to land (physical spaces), opportunities for subsistence connected to its maintenance (economic spaces), and spaces either within, or in relation to, conventional educational systems. But 

how are such spaces created? What is the role of international organizations in this process – particularly those using approaches based in human rights, environmental protection, and sustainable development? What is the role of education? This course will explore these complex questions, examining: the interface between international mechanisms designed to safeguard and promote indigenous / local knowledge, the organizations that carry out this work, and local communities. We will also discuss the role of private enterprises that seek to exploit traditional knowledge for profit or other gain. 

Expert lectures by academics from France and Norway, practitioners from UNESCO, and one invited keynote speaker will discuss topics including the following, as they relate to indigenous / local knowledge: 

• rights-based approaches 

• intangible cultural heritage 

• current global and local discourses 

• global relevance 

• climate change and environmental issues 

• local / subsistence livelihoods vs. market economies 

• the potential for misuse or exploitation 

• communities’ own desire to maintain their own knowledge, skills and livelihoods. 

Course Schedule 

Day 1 (20 November): will consist of 6-8 presentations by a group of expert scholars in the field. These will include: 

– keynote speaker Edmond Dounias (Institute for Research and Develpoment, IRD) – A representative of the UNESCO Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems 

(LINKS) programène Bellier l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris and 

coordinator of the project Justice and Indigenous Peoples (JUSTIP) Hays, Department of Anthropology, UiT Arctic University of Norway 

Day 2 (21 November) Students will present their research projects and / or theoretical papers that have been submitted beforehand. Time will be allotted for feedback on each paper. In particular the keynote speaker(s) will be asked to read and comment on each paper. 

Day 3 (22 November): Panel discussions on topics that relate the student papers with the areas of the speakers / instructors. 

Assessment: One paper of 5000 to 7000 words, assessed on a Pass/Fail basis. 

Learning outcomes: 


• Good understanding of the international mechanisms that promote indigenous / traditional knowledge, as well as their scope and limits 

• Good understanding of various global discourses around indigenous / traditional knowledge 

• Good understanding of how these mechanisms and discourses feed into practical considerations of efforts to promote indigenous knowledge, at local and global levels. 


• The students will be able to describe how the above and other factors play out in their particular case (project), and through a particular theoretical lens 

• The students will be able to clearly present a case study on indigenous / local knowledge and to respond to questions and critiques, verbally and in writing 

Land matters in contemporary southern Africa

Authors: Stasja Koot, Catie Gressier and Robert Hitchcock

A series of recent events in southern Africa reveal that the land question—and especially that related to land reform—is a long way from being resolved. There are currently no indications that these issues will be addressed quickly or efficiently. Land reform is at the top of the South African agenda at present, and this is true in Namibia as well, which had its Second Conference on Land Reform and the Land Question in October of 2018. In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe stepped down as president after ruling the country for 37 years in November 2017. Arguably, Mugabe’s most controversial political activity had been the fast track land reform programme, in which mostly white farmers were dispossessed of their lands, obviously also having a very strong effect on the, mostly black, farm workers. However, today Zimbabwe’s next president, Emerson Mnangagwa, has announced that Zimbabwe will allow white farmers to get 99-year leases of land again. Meanwhile, in neighbouring South Africa, the new ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa said that the country should speed up the land reform process, including by appropriating white farms without payment of compensation. Likely, Ramaphosa and his party have felt the pressure of new, but highly popular, parties such as the EFF, the Economic Freedom Fighters, for whom land appropriation without compensation is their ‘first non-negotiable cardinal pillar’. Since the demise of apartheid in 1994, the ANC-led government’s budget for land reform has never exceeded 1%, and since 2007 the process has only slowed down (Nkosi 2018). In a country with one of the highest inequality rates in the world, it is then not surprising that more radical groups like the EFF can easily affect high level policy decisions and national political strategies, when large parts of the population feel their needs are not being addressed and promises remain unfulfilled. All of these issues make up some of the subject matter in a (part) special issue in the Journal of Southern African Studies (45: 2).

The frustration also shows when white and black farmers get attacked at their farms, attacks that sometimes also come with brutal violence, torture and rape. Of course, such violence should never be allowed, and therefore groups of both whites and blacks have protested against such attacks and asked the government for more protection. What is regrettable though, is that the focus in such protests for some vocal groups remains only on white farm attacks (even white ‘genocide’), and not on violence more generally (see, for example, the view of AfriForum and the response by Elmien du Plessis). In the end, the farm attacks, however brutal and horrific, only form a fraction of the violence in the country (Du Plessis 2018): most of the violence in South Africa (street crime, but also domestic violence) takes place among marginalised people who live in townships or impoverished rural areas. Focusing solely on the white farm attacks arguably creates more racial and economic tensions, strengthening feelings of ‘us’ against ‘them’ while ignoring structural issues of racial and economic inequality, which is nowhere as apparent as it is in the land question.

Who does the land belong to? Or: Who belongs to the land?

So in post-independent and post-apartheid southern Africa two questions that are still highly relevant are Who does the land belongs to?, and the preceding question: Who belongs to the land? The answers to both questions create a large variety of contestations: Under neoliberal capitalism, which currently thrives in southern Africa, private ownership is an important anchor. However, ownership of land is not necessarily congruent with the question who belongs to the land. Many instances show that the latter question continues to lead to heated debates and a large variety of political dynamics, of which we will only highlight a few here. ‘To belong’ is to have a sense of connection; it implies familiarity, comfort and ease, alongside feelings of inclusion, acceptance and safety. The way people belong to place is often informed by political strategies, conscious and unconscious, through which access to various rights and resources are sought and contested. Land has long been among the most highly valued of resources, and nowhere has this been more evident than during the liberation struggles across southern Africa. Claims to belong frequently invoke unique relationships to the land and nature (Gressier, 2015), which, in neoliberal contexts, are simultaneously constructed as highly commodified resources, in different ways by various ethnic groups.

A diverse set of ethnic groups is white southern Africans, who remain the most powerful set of ethnic groups from an economic point of view and who have always strongly identified with nature (McDermott Hughes, 2010). Take, for example, how white Namibians who work in the tourism industry and construct belonging through articulating a strong connection to the mostly essentialised local indigenous San people as people of nature (Koot, 2015). Or what about the coloured and white farmers of the highly commodified famous rooibos plantations in South Africa? Both groups struggle to express an ‘authentic’ sense of belonging, but have creatively, and in somewhat different ways, been able to identify more with the plant than with the land (Ives, 2017). These examples are important reminders not to reduce the politics of belonging to place as only a politics of land. And neither is it solely a positive politics; it is mobilised just as frequently in processes of exclusion that are shaped, more often than not, by dynamics of neoliberal capitalism. Take the key issue of labour and its consequent processes of (rural–urban) migration (Njwambe, Cocks and Vetter, 2019), which keenly demonstrate that ‘inherent to belonging is always the potential for its opposites: insecurity, alienation and exclusion’ (Gressier, 2015). Xhosa people working in Cape Town often keep a strong sense of belonging with their rural homes in Centane in the former Transkei, a phenomenon which is referred to as Ekhayeni (Njwambe, Cocks and Vetter, 2019). Labour in particular demonstrates how the politics of belonging are integrally related to a variety of economic push and pull factors, with immigrants stereotypically regarded as a threat to an often already limited pool of work; economic migrants, temporary workers, asylum seekers and illegal migrants are then seen as those who do not belong and, as a consequence, are all too frequently confronted with xenophobic violence (Mosselson, 2010).

Indigenous peoples and their many court cases surrounding protected areas

Despite a lack of formal recognition of the unique histories of the region’s indigenous people, the governments of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa are attempting to assist indigenous (mostly San or ‘Bushmen’) communities as ‘marginalised’ or ‘historically disadvantaged’ through various state-sponsored programmes (Sapignoli and Hitchcock, 2013). The San, who are often considered the ‘real’ indigenous people of southern Africa, continue to endure the region’s highest rates of impoverishment, landlessness and political alienation. While material resources are far too frequently scarce, as Richard Lee pointed out, indigenous people have “what migrants and the children of migrants (i.e., most of the rest of us) feel they lack: a sense of belonging, a sense of rootedness in place” (Lee, 2003, p. ).

Indeed, the San often articulate themselves —and are often articulated by others—as having a special relation to the land and nature. For the last few centuries, they have been among the most prominent victims of evictions for the sake of nature conservation. This is still visible today, when a large variety of San groups are in the middle of a court case or has won court cases already to get (access to) land. The Hai//om of northern Namibia, for example, have filed a collective action lawsuit in 2015, to be able to receive a share of the benefits from the highly profitable tourist gem Etosha National Park and from an area called Mangetti West. However, the Namibian government continues to push those Hai//om who still live in the Etosha park out, under the banner of ‘voluntary’ resettlement. Large donors and the Hai//om traditional authority (who was appointed by the government and not democratically elected) support this process (Koot and Hitchcock, 2019). Such problems with traditional authorities seem to be widespread over southern Africa, from Namibia in the West all the way to northern KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, in the East, and it does not seem to be restricted to indigenous people only (Aardenburg and Nel, 2019). Meanwhile, the Hai//om at the Tsintsabis resettlement farm, to the east of Etosha National Park, experience a high level of in-migration, which leads to a variety of social problems, including the rise of shebeens (where the sale of alcohol leads to many socio-cultural problems, such as prostitution, violence and ethnic tensions). Ironically, since Namibia’s independence in 1990 the land reform programme has predominantly favoured those with good connections in the government instead of marginalised groups, showing new elitism based on the privatisation of property. And further to the north, impoverished Hai//om at Mangetti West are today denied access to large tracts of land where they used to gather for food because cattle farmers from far away have now illegally fenced off large parts of the area (Koot and Hitchcock, 2019). Other San groups have also experienced difficulties with illegal fencing in northern Namibia, such as the San of the N≠a Jaqna Conservancy. Despite winning a court case against the illegal fencers in 2016, so far the fences have not been removed and no pressure seems to have been put on the illegal fencers, despite the Minister of Environment and Tourism himself stating that the government will “ensure that the rights of the San are protected” (Namibian Sun, 2016, see also Van der Wulp and Koot, 2019).

Furthermore, in neighbouring Botswana, the G//ana and G/wi San and Bakgalagadi of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) continue to be cut off from most government services. This is the latest strategy in the Botswanan state’s sustained campaign to evict residents from the protected area, despite the San having won four (!) court cases affirming their right to continue to reside within the CKGR (Sapignoli, 2018). Such strategies, as well as the land reform programme in Namibia, make you understand why many San in southern Africa consider the ‘new’ governments just as bad as, or at times worse than, colonial governments. Moreover, in South Africa, where the ≠Khomani San have received eight farms back based on past evictions from the current Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, it is not always a given that receiving land ‘back’ automatically also accounts for ‘development’: throughout the years the meaning of land has essentially changed from a ‘total environment’ that was taken away from hunting and gathering people under colonialism, to land as a purely commodified resource today, meant for the development of people who are identifying as hunter-gatherers, but who are first of all people of contemporary society where there is hardly any space for a ‘real’ hunting and gathering lifestyle (Koot and Büscher, 2019).

The recent (part) special issue of the Journal of Southern African Studies (45: 2), for which we have been guest editors, addresses the above issues in more detail. The editorial ‘Belonging, Indigeneity, Land and Nature in Southern Africa under Neoliberal Capitalism: An Overview’ (Koot, Hitchcock and Gressier, 2019) introduces the above topics and some of the case studies mentioned in this blog. It is clear that land remains politically highly sensitive in southern Africa, and the questions of who belongs to the land, and how this belonging is articulated, seems to be more relevant than ever.


Aardenburg, E. and Nel, A. ‘Fatalism and Dissidence in Dukuduku, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa: Ongoing Contestations over Land, Resources and Identity’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 42(2), (2019).

Du Plessis, E. ‘AfriForum’s Own Farm Murder Stats Don’t Support Their Claims’, News24, 7 May 2018, available at, retrieved 21 July 2019.

Gressier, C., At Home in the Okavango: White Batswana Narratives of Emplacement and Belonging (Oxford, Berghahn, 2015).

McDermott Hughes, D., Whiteness in Zimbabwe: Race, Landscape, and the Problem of Belonging (New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

Ives, S., Steeped in Heritage: The Racial Politics of South African Rooibos Tea (London, Duke University Press, 2017).

Koot, S. ‘White Namibians in Tourism and the Politics of Belonging through Bushmen’, Anthropology Southern Africa, 38(1–2), (2015), pp. 4–15.

Koot, S. and Büscher, B., ‘Giving Land (Back)? The Meaning of Land in the Indigenous Politics of the South Kalahari Bushmen Land Claim, South Africa’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 42(2), (2019).

Koot, S. and Hitchcock, R., ‘In the Way: Perpetuating Land Dispossession of the Indigenous Hai//om and the Collective Action Lawsuit for Etosha National Park and Mangetti West, Namibia’, Nomadic Peoples, 23, (2019), pp. 55-77.

Koot, S., Hitchcock, R. and Gressier, C., ‘Belonging, Indigeneity, Land and Nature in Southern Africa under Neoliberal Capitalism: An Overview’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 42(2), (2019).

Lee, R. ‘Indigenous Rights and the Politics of Identity in Post-Apartheid Southern Africa’, in B. Dean and J.M. Levi (eds), At the Risk of Being Heard: Identity, Indigenous Rights, and Postcolonial States (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 2003), pp. 80–111

Mosselson, A. ‘“There is no Difference between Citizens and Non-citizens Anymore”: Violent Xenophobia, Citizenship and the Politics of Belonging in Post-Apartheid South Africa’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 36(3) (2010), pp. 641–55

Namibian Sun, ‘Shifeta Fights for San Rights’, Windhoek, 26 September 2016, available at, retrieved 21 July 2019

Njwambe, A., Cocks, M. and Vetter, S., ‘Ekhayeni: Rural-Urban Migration, Belonging and Landscapes of Home in South Africa’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 42(2), (2019).

Nkosi, M. ‘Is South Africa’s Land Reform an Election Gimmick?’, BBC News, London, 11 August 2018, available at, retrieved 20 August 2018.

Sapignoli, M., Hunting Justice: Displacement, Law, and Activism in the Kalahari (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Sapignoli, M. and Hitchcock, R., ‘Indigenous Peoples in Southern Africa’, The Round Table, 102(4), (2013), pp. 355–65.

Van der Wulp, C. and Koot, S., ‘Immaterial Indigenous Modernities in the Struggle against Illegal Fencing in the N≠a Jaqna Conservancy, Namibia: Genealogical Ancestry and ‘San-ness’ in a ‘Traditional Community’’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 42(2), (2019).

Resilient, Inclusive, & Sustainable Environments (RISE): A Challenge to Address Gender-Based Violence in the Environment

Resilient, Inclusive, & Sustainable Environments (RISE): A Challenge to Address Gender-Based Violence in the Environment 

USAID’s Office of Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment is thrilled to announce Resilient, Inclusive, & Sustainable Environments (RISE): A Challenge to Address Gender-Based Violence in the Environment.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is estimated to affect more than one in three women worldwide. This widespread problem takes a variety of forms, including sexual, psychological, community, economic, institutional, and intimate partner violence, and in turn affects nearly every aspect of a person’s life, including health, education, and economic and political opportunities. At the same time, environmental degradation, loss of ecosystem benefits, and unsustainable resource use are creating complex crises worldwide. As billions of people rely on these natural resources and ecosystems to sustain themselves, the potential human impacts are dire, with disproportionate effects on women and girls.  
This challenge aims to fund organizations to adapt and implement promising or proven practices that have been used to effectively prevent and respond to GBV in other sectors to environmental programming.
Apply today by sending us your application on how your promising or proven intervention would prevent and respond to gender-based violence across programs that address the access, use, control, and management of natural resources.
Learn more, share with your networks, and apply by October 8!


PhD Course: Debating (Rural) Development and the Environment across the global North and South

*** Extended deadline to apply for the following course: August 15 (but please let us know ASAP if you are interested to attend)

Ph.D. course, Debating (Rural) Development and the Environment across the global North and South (5 credits) at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala. The entire course period will be August 19 – September 6 with half day classes to be held from September 2– 6 in Uppsala, Sweden. The rest of the time is for reading and writing on your own. The course will  

  • Discuss key debates on development in the global North and South, with particular attention to issues relating to the environment.
  • Through a comparative north-south approach, the course will focus on how rural development practice has evolved over the past half century and the conceptual underpinnings of these shifts, while providing students tools to undertake a critical analysis of how rural development functions in practice.
  • We will discuss theories and trajectories of development. The issues discussed include modernization and the will to improve, the role of the state, civil society and development organizations, governmentality, the institutional turn and the turn to markets, finance, management and good governance, global development regimes and feminist critiques.

 An important part of the course is for you to be able to develop your thinking in your area of study and to be able to discuss that with the lecturers. In order to facilitate that, and to tailor the course to you as participants, you need to send a one pager description of your work/research and a few lines on what you would like to get from the course. To apply, please email this to Harry Fischer ( and copy Seema Arora Jonsson (  Deadline to register is August 15.  Course organiser and teacher: Seema Arora Jonsson, Professor, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). Teachers: Harry Fischer, Adam Pain

Call for papers: Slow Violence and Environment at the International Sociological Association forum conference in Porto Allegre- Brazil in 14-18 July 2020

Session organiser: Saad Amira, University of Basel, Urban Studies Department

The forum’s overarching theme is : Challenges of the 21st Century: Democracy, Environment, Inequalities, Internationality. This session is titles Eco-Politics of Israeli Settler Colonialism, Palestinian Neo-Patrimonial Politics of Corruption and Every Day Forms of Ethnic Cleansing in the West Bank and falls under the following theme: Human Rights and Global Justice. Kindly note that any abstracts of relevance to the field of Slow Violence and Environment, which might tackle other settings than Palestine are welcomed. 

Abstracts due: 30th of September 2019

Kindly check the link below for more information on the content of the session :
The Slow Violence of Israeli Settler-Colonialism and the Political Ecology of Ethnic Cleansing in the West Bank

This research uses the concept of ‘slow violence ‘ in a Palestinian village to explore the political ecology of the Israeli settlers-colonial paradigm, and its relationship to the politics of corruption of a curtailed neo-patrimonial entity, namely the  Palestinian Authority. Slow violence is violence that manifests gradually and often invisibly, in contrast to spectacular violence that more frequently garners media and political attention. My research explores and maps out the structure of slow violence in Palestine, where the “de-development” politics of the Palestinian National Authority and the Israeli settler-colonial enterprise converge. It addresses a significant scholarly gap in that attention to these issues focus almost exclusively on violence as a spectacle, overlooking the centrality of nature as a productive political and developmental space in settler colonial discourse and practice. Here I focus on three aspects of the slow violence of settler colonialism and its relationship to political ecology: the unleashing of wild boars into Palestinian villages; the uprooting of olive trees and continuous destruction of other crops; and the relocation of Israeli toxic waste industries to the West Bank, which includes the dumping of settlement waste onto Palestinian villages. All these practices transform the meanings of security and stability for Palestinians,  as notions of Patriarchal (de)development reduce Palestinian politics of liberation into politics of corruption, perpetuating it as the only paradigm of Palestinian Political agency .

Call for papers: “The Future of Forever Chemicals? Citizen Participation and Rising Awareness of PFAS and Related Contamination in a Time of Deregulation”

Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) annual meeting

March 17 – 21 2020 in Albuquerque, NM

There has recently been a great rise in public awareness over the health effects of exposure to Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) – often called “Forever Chemicals” because they do not degrade in the environment and persistently remain and accumulate in the human body. Nearly five thousand of these industrial chemicals have been used for decades in the production of a vast range of products. Exposure to these toxins has been potentially linked to kidney and liver disease, certain cancers, and numerous other serious conditions. There is much concern over PFAS in drinking water systems and, more recently, in our food supply.

A growing number of states are moving to enact strict standards limiting PFAS contamination. In response to pressure, the EPA and the FDA have taken steps to address the widespread presence of PFAS in drinking water and food. The CDC and other agencies are working to better understand health risks. This summer has seen a proliferation of news stories on PFAS contamination and community responses to protect themselves.

This session will consider the significance of the growing concern over contamination from PFAS and related toxic chemicals:  How is this public awareness being translated into action? How are applied anthropologists participating in these efforts?

Two of the papers will discuss public response and environmental activism in eastern North Carolina after revelations two years ago that a Chemours (Dupont) plant had been releasing GenX fluoroethers into the Cape Fear River for at least a decade. The river is the source of drinking water for more 300,000 people. 

We seek 3 or 4 papers from researchers working in similar settings where communities are confronting chemical contamination in their water and food supply through activism, citizen science, lawsuits, and/or media campaigns. Questions the papers might address include:

What strategies are organizers using to raise public awareness and form effective coalitions and partnerships?

How are they engaging policy-makers and state agencies to hold polluting industries accountable? 

What challenges do groups face in this period of deregulation of environmental protection and science denial?

What are the “environmental justice” dimensions of race, socioeconomic status, and other structural factors in the political ecology of chemical contamination?

How are medical and environmental testing results perceived and challenged by effected communities?

How does the ubiquitous presence of “forever chemicals” in the products of daily life influence risk perception? 

Does this moment of PFAS awareness have broader implications in the public and political discourse on environmental protection? 

Organizer:  Dr. William L. Alexander, Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Anthropology Department Chair, University of North Carolina Wilmington

For consideration, please send a 100-word paper abstract and short bio to

All preliminary inquiries are welcome. 

Political ecology fieldwork with a toddler: a personal account

Dr Jessica Hope, University of Bristol

Jessica Hope is a Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow at the University of Bristol and Chair of the Developing Areas Research Group (DARG) of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS). Her research spans human geography, development studies and political ecology and addresses questions of socio-environmental change in response to climate change. Her current project, funded by an RGS Environment & Sustainability Grant, investigates reiterations of sustainable development in Bolivia, as promoted by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Momentum is gathering behind bids to make academia more diverse and equal. Part of this is about better recognising care responsibilities, which for me personally is about childcare. Since having my two year old, I have been increasingly involved in work to better recognise the challenges facing academics with children, for example how to negotiate career breaks or do fieldwork. In this blog, however, I want to write a personal and positive account of how good fieldwork with children can be, when well supported. I hope that this offers some support and encouragement for those wondering what they can manage or ask for and that it contributes to widening conversations about academic lives. 

I have now been to Bolivia twice with my child. First, during my maternity leave when she was 9 months old (for 2 months) and secondly, in April when she was two (for a month). Both trips were great and I would deem them a success, both in terms of collecting data and as family time. In this brief blog, I’ll focus on the most recent trip and write about three key things – being supported economically; the practicalities of travel with a toddler; and the positives for my child. 

This recent trip with my duaghter was much more relaxed than the first, in terms of feeling able to spend my funding on childcare costs. I have a Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellowship at the University of Bristol and these come with £5,000 research funds per year. This money is for my project and I secured approval to use some of it to pay for my daughters travel costs and those of my sister, who left her life in Berlin for a month to help me with Evie. Following conversations at the RGS and within DARG, this time around I felt much more justified in asking for (and spending) money on Bella and my daughters trip. The first important part of this was that I could choose the best care arrangements for my child. Bolivian childcare infrastructure is not ideal for an English-speaking foreigner, especially one moving between three fieldsites whilst there. Settling young children into nurseries is also no small thing wherever you are and the thought of putting Evie in a new nursery each week filled me with dread (I will, however, put her into a nursery when I go on fieldwork to Canada later in the year). Instead, the worries about having my toddler with me in Bolivia (and leaving her whilst I worked) was greatly reduced because she was with my sister – someone we both know and love. The second important part of being supported economically stems from uprooting Bella and my daughters lives for a month. It was a big deal for them to come to Bolivia for me but what helped make this a positive and happy time for us, and not just a productive time for me, was that I had the funding to cover our costs and live securely and happily whilst there. 

For this short tip, I went to 3 field sites and carefully planned for heat, mosquitos and altitude. In terms of practicalities, my big take home point from doing fieldwork with Evie is book an apartment. Being stuck in a tiny hotel room made our first trip stressful and strange upon arrival. However, this time we had space. We could keep to my daughters routines, we could cook and, most importantly, we had a lovely home environment in each place. We could put my daughter to bed and have time to ourselves before going to sleep (20 minutes later) and our apartments offered some breathing space from all the newness and work (for everyone). Finally, I want it in print that I got strong. Really strong. I took one big hold-all for me and my child. I had a dictaphone, a tripod, my phone, some notepads and about 2 outfits. The rest of the bag was filled with stickers, books, soft toys and the clothes she needed for both the heat of the lowlands and the cold of La Paz. The bag was akin to a small garden shed. In addition to carrying a shed, I had a buggy and, ofcourse, a toddler. She was amazing during the trip but often wanted carried when in a bus station or busy airport at night. I couldn’t refuse and so would find myself carrying a huge bag and a toddler, up and down the Andes. In case my sister reads this, I should also come clean that option two was that I had the child and a smaller bag, whilst Bella carried everything else and pushed the buggy (thanks Bella). 

I want to end by saying that this trip has scored high, in terms of lovely time spent with my sister and child. Some of our evenings together were magic – playing games, making masks or (endlessly) sticking stickers. I loved our breakfasts – sat together eating porridge before heading out on our separate adventures. My daughter missed her Dad (and he missed her terribly) but apart from that, I think it was a really positive experience for her. She experienced new places and worlds, she realised more about different languages and sounds. She tried new foods. She is definitely more confident as a result (not so good when she’s happy to run off at a busy market) but, most importantly, as the trip went on all that was different became less strange and more normal for her and it feels like her world has widened. 

The concerns of the young protesters are justified: A statement by Scientists for Future concerning the protests for more climate protection

The full text can be found here. In March 2019, German-speaking scientists and scholars calling themselves Scientists for Future, published a statement in support of the youth protesters in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (Fridays for Future, Klimastreik/Climate Strike), verifying the scientific evidence that the youth protestors refer to. In this article, they provide the full text of the statement, including the list of supporting facts (in both English and German) as well as an analysis of the results and impacts of the statement. Furthermore, they reflect on the challenges for scientists and scholars who feel a dual responsibility: on the one hand, to remain independent and politically neutral, and, on the other hand, to inform and warn societies of the dangers that lie ahead.