13 open PhD positions to offer in field of Water Governance

Dear friends,

Coordinated by VU Amsterdam we are starting a new international project, NEWAVE, on water governance & political ecology.


We have 13 open positions to offer in field of Water Governance, fully funded by the EU ITN program.


These positions relate to a variety of water challenges on multiple scales and focus on different countries.

The selected candidates will join an extensive and powerful transdisciplinary network with 29 organizations involved. The NEWAVE network has the ambition to push forward a transformative actionable agenda.

Candidates can apply through our website via the application form. They will need to comply with the eligibility criteria, bearing in mind that they might be eligible for certain positions while not for others, due to mobility rules.

The closing date for applications is 15 March 2020. Eligibility criteria and instructions for applying are available in the Guide for Applicants, as well as in the website recruitment section. Read more

CALL FOR PAPERS – 25 years of Living Under Contract: Contract Farming and Agrarian Change in the Global South

International workshop, 29th April  – 1st May 2020, Wageningen University, the Netherlands

// Keynote participation by Michael Watts (UC Berkeley)

// Organizers: Niels Fold (University of Copenhagen), Helena Perez-Nino (University of Cambridge), Mark Vicol (Wageningen University & Research), Sudha Narayanan (IGIDR Mumbai), Caroline Hambloch (ICRISAT)

// Aim

This workshop will bring together prominent contract farming and agrarian political economy scholars to mark the 25th anniversary of Living Under Contract (Little & Watts, 1994) by reflecting on the past 25 years of critical scholarship on contract farming (CF), asking what have we learnt and what do we still not understand. Given the ongoing debates in the critical literature on CF about its significance and contemporary character, as well as renewed policy interest, it is timely to take stock of the ‘state of play’ of CF studies. There is a need to both evaluate the insights and findings of the past decades, as well as to identify and propose ways to address existing conceptual and methodological lacunae at the intersection of CF, smallholder livelihoods and agrarian change in the Global South. Selected papers from the workshop will be invited to submit for publication in a special issue marking 25 years since Living Under Contract proposed to the Journal of Agrarian Change, to be edited by the organizers. Read more

CfP POLLEN 2020: Fallen from Grace? Debating the legacy and state of Southern African conservation

24-26 June, 2020, Brighton, UK

Convenors: Stasja Koot and Bram Büscher

Southern Africa has long been at the forefront of nature conservation globally. Under colonialism, the region played an important part in the expansion of national parks (Ramutsindela 2004, Cock and Fig 2000), while independence and post-apartheid led to globally recognized forms of community-based conservation. The latter combined the conservation of biodiversity with development through CBNRM (Community-based Natural Resource Management) and other programs (most famously, through the CAMPFIRE project in Zimbabwe or the conservancies in Namibia). CBNRM was predominantly based on the creation of economic benefits through tourism, trophy hunting and other market-based forms of development, which were soon criticized for not achieving high expectations around development and conservation (Sullivan 2002, Blaikie, 2006; Dressler et al. 2010, Koot 2019).

The waning of CBNRM around the early 2000s saw the simultaneous rise of Transfrontier Conservation (or ‘Peace parks’) as a new, globally popular conservation paradigm. Again, this created high expectations about local development and inclusion, but again with often disappointing results (Duffy 2001, Büscher 2013). As a result, some scholars urged for a more hardline approach to protecting biodiversity, especially in response to the escalating rhino poaching crisis that started in 2008. On the ground, this approach has translated into a militarization of conservation, and different forms of ‘green violence’ (Lunstrum 2014, Büscher and Ramutsindela 2016, Duffy et al. 2019). At the same time and especially since the early 2010’s, we see a renewed push for the full-scale commodification of conservation as part of a broader strategy to build a regional ‘wildlife economy’. Building on the intensification of the privatization of conservation in relation to (high end) tourism, a rapidly growing trade in game species and the creation of so-called ‘wildlife estates’, amongst others, it seems that conservation in Southern Africa is currently less concerned with building inspiring and (seemingly) inclusive conservation narratives than to rather find more ‘pragmatic’ ways to merge protection and profit in a neoliberal conservation context (Silva and Motzer 2015, Massé and Lunstrum 2016, Duffy et al. 2019, Koot, Hitchcock and Gressier 2019).

For this session we invite papers that aim to understand the legacy and current state of conservation in Southern Africa and how it might or should develop in the near future. Does Southern Africa still play the role of shining conservation example for the world it once was? Or is the region currently in ‘crisis’, resulting in a more inward-looking conservation gaze? After so many innovations, what are its current possibilities? How do contemporary nature conservation initiatives relate to broader political, social and economic trends and dynamics, including continued inequality, violence, resource extraction and other pressing environmental issues (e.g. climate change)? And what does all this mean for local people living adjacent to (and sometimes working in) conservation areas? Or, more broadly, how does all this relate to and affect issues of race, gender, inequality and power in the region? These are concerns and questions which we would like to discuss in this session for the POLLEN2020 conference, and we invite papers that address and connect several of these.

If you want to join, please send your abstract (max. 250 words) to Stasja Koot and Bram Büscher before 15 October, through kootwork@gmail.com and bram.buscher@wur.nl.



Blaikie, P. (2006) Is Small Really Beautiful? Community-based Natural Resource Management in Malawi and Botswana. World Development, 34, 1942-1957.

Büscher, B. 2013. Transforming the frontier: peace parks and the politics of neoliberal conservation in southern Africa. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Büscher, B. & M. Ramutsindela (2016) Green violence: Rhino poaching and the war to save Southern Africa’s peace parks. African Affairs, 115, 1-22.

Cock, J. & D. Fig (2000) From colonial to community based conservation: environmental justice and the national parks of South Africa. Society in Transition, 31, 22-35.

Dressler, W., B. BüScher, M. Schoon, D. A. N. Brockington, T. Hayes, C. A. Kull, J. McCarthy & K. Shrestha (2010) From hope to crisis and back again? A critical history of the global CBNRM narrative. Environmental Conservation, 37, 5-15.

Duffy, R. (2001) Peace parks: The paradox of globalisation. Geopolitics, 6, 1-26.

Duffy, R., F. Massé, E. Smidt, E. Marijnen, B. Büscher, J. Verweijen, M. Ramutsindela, T. Simlai, L. Joanny & E. Lunstrum (2019) Why we must question the militarisation of conservation. Biological Conservation, 232, 66-73.

Koot, S. (2019) The Limits of Economic Benefits: Adding Social Affordances to the Analysis of Trophy Hunting of the Khwe and Ju/’hoansi in Namibian Community-Based Natural Resource Management. Society & Natural Resources, 32, 417-433.

Koot, S., R. Hitchcock & C. Gressier (2019) Belonging, Indigeneity, Land and Nature in Southern Africa under Neoliberal Capitalism: An Overview. Journal of Southern African Studies, 45, 341-355.

Lunstrum, E. (2014) Green Militarization: Anti-Poaching Efforts and the Spatial Contours of Kruger National Park. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 104, 816-832.

Massé, F. & Lunstrum, E. (2016) Accumulation by securitization: Commercial poaching, neoliberal conservation, and the creation of new wildlife frontiers. Geoforum, 69, 227-237.

Ramutsindela, M. 2004. Parks and people in postcolonial societies: experiences in southern Africa. New York: Kluwer Academic Publisher.

Silva, J. A. & N. Motzer (2015) Hybrid Uptakes of Neoliberal Conservation in Namibian Tourism-based Development. Development and Change, 46, 48-71.

Sullivan, S. 2002. How sustainable is the communalizing discourse of ‘new’ conservation? The masking of difference, inequality and aspiration in the fledgling ‘conservancies’ of Namibia. In Conservation and mobile indigenous peoples: Displacement, forced settlement, and sustainable development, eds. D. Chatty & M. Colchester, 158-187. Oxford: Berghahn Press.

Trophy hunting for conservation and development in Namibia? The limitations of economic benefits and the role of science

By Stasja Koot, 12 February 2019

Recent years have shown an increase in the, often heated, debate on trophy hunting, with some important developments taking place in southern Africa. To name just some that have accelerated the debate: In 2012, pictures of King Juan Carlos of Spain emerged in which he posed in front of his trophies, an elephant and two African buffaloes. As a result of the public outcry that followed, the King was dismissed as the honorary president of WWF Spain, which is ironic when realising that various WWF offices in southern Africa support trophy hunting in the name of conservation and development. Other important developments have been a ban on trophy hunting in Botswana in 2013, a very controversial hunt of a black rhino in Namibia for US$350,000 in 2015 and the infamous illegal hunt of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe in 2015. Royal connections of this hobby for the wealthy have a long history and continue today. The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, for example, currently speaks out against the trophy hunting ban in Botswana.

Read more

CSPS SYMPOSIUM: TOWARDS CONVIVIAL CONSERVATION? Governing Human-Wildlife Relations in the ‘Anthropocene’ (CONVIVA)

POSTER conviva

Please click here for the website and full program of this symposium.

Convivial conservation is a new conservation approach that aims to move beyond currently dominant paradigms that promote nature-culture dualisms and market-based funding mechanisms. Both of these are increasingly recognized as obstacles to sustainable conservation, yet viable alternatives for transcending them have yet to be organized into a new paradigm and approach. The convivial conservation proposal has been conceptualized to fill this precise gap in envisioning integrated landscapes and new forms of wealth redistribution. Yet for its further practical operationalization, broader discussions amongst different conservation actors are needed.

This research symposium aims to give a strong impetus to these discussions by focusing on different responses to human-wildlife conflict cases around the world that may contain elements of a broader convivial conservation approach.

Broadcasted Seminar on “Water Justice and the Commons”

Broadcasted Seminar on “Water Justice and the Commons”

Date: Thursday, May 24th 2018
Time: From 15 to 18h
Venue: Room Z/022 ICTA-UAB

The conventional theory of the commons has been criticized for its relative inattention to how historically-shaped patterns of power, conflict, the ‘state’ and the broader political-economic context shape the access to and uses of common resources, and distributional consequences of different institutional arrangements for community-based natural resource management. The tragedy of the commons that Hardin had so popularized is not just the result of commoners’ individualistic behavior but may well also stem from the acts of more powerful, profit-seeking actors. Benefits and costs of resource management are commonly unequally distributed and shaped by power relations and political-economic structures; these conditions often lead to social movements and conflicts. Indeed, it has been argued that the history of commons has always been a history of struggle between the dynamic of enclosures driven by the systemic need for capital accumulation, and that of commoning to defend and reconstitute commons. Read more

Tourism, labour and the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa

By Stasja Koot, 12 December 2017

In the Kruger to Canyon (K2C) region, South Africa, there are two big phenomena of which the interactions have so far hardly been researched: tourism and the rhino poaching crisis. Based on four field trips to South Africa in 2016/17, totalling about 3 months, I have investigated these links, and here I wish to present some first ideas. In particular, I wish to explain one important tension that I observed; the role of labour in tourism and how this is related to the rhino poaching crisis. Read more

THANK YOU from Wageningen and welcome to Lancaster!

Dear POLLEN members,

From now on, the Lancaster Environment Centre at the Lancaster University is taking over the POLLEN secretariat! We from Sociology of Development and Change, Wageningen University, the Netherlands, want to thank everybody for being a part in this great and important initiative for the last 2.5 years. We have had the honor of being central to setting POLLEN up and to work with many inspiring political ecologists from all over the world. As has been the plan from the start, POLLEN was established as a participatory platform for political ecologists world-wide to voice their ideas and get in touch with each other, in a field that gets more important every day. One of the highlights has been to organize the first POLLEN Conference in 2016, where we welcomed close to 450 people from around the world to debate many important issues around the themes ‘Conflict, Capitalism and Contestation’. Right now, we are very excited about and looking forward to the second biannual POLLEN conference, which will be held from 20-22 June 2018 in Oslo (see: https://politicalecologynetwork.com/pollen-biannual-conference/ for the CfP).

Of course, this is no goodbye: we will stay actively involved in future POLLEN activities and continue to assist where we can. For now, we wish Lancaster a very good time as the new POLLEN secretariat!

Thank you all and best wishes,

Stasja Koot

Bram Büscher

Rob Fletcher

Why Amazonian forest peoples are ‘counter-mapping’ their ancestral lands

29122014-DSC_1968.jpg“The earth is our mother. We should look after and respect her. This territory is where the peccary passed. Under the authority of Karodaybi [the first Munduruku warrior] Mauricio Torres, Author provided

Author: James Fraser

In 1707, a Jesuit missionary from the Czech Republic named Samuel Fritz published one of the first detailed maps of the Amazon River. Fritz spent much of his life in the region and his map names and locates (often incorrectly) many of the Amazonian forest peoples he encountered. In this sense, his map helped tie them to certain places, and to particular colonially-defined identities.

While Fritz was mapping out the Amazon, other Europeans were hard at work in tropical forested countries across the globe, drawing up boundaries that ignored and criminalised forest peoples’ customary rights to live in their ancestral territories. Read more