“It is easy to rule a poor man”

The international conference on Political Ecology and Development: Resources, Power and Justice took place in Lancaster University on the 9th and 10th of September this year. TCD Geography, both past and present, were well represented at the conference.

Dr. Padraig Carmody presented a paper, in collaboration with Professor David Taylor from the National University of Singapore (formerly of TCD Geography), titled  “It is easy to rule a poor man”: The political ecology of land grabbing and environmental change in Uganda.

In discussing the paper, Dr. Carmody stated that much has been written in recent years about the nature, drivers and impacts of land grabbing in Africa. However to-date the political and “local” dimensions of the process and what it reveals about how globalisation is evolving have been under-theorised. Ecological scarcity and consequent imperatives of conservation are the primary drivers of the current African land rush. Together we term these processes ecolonisation, as discourses of climate change mitigation facilitate continued and deepening domination of ecological space by an alliance of domestic political elites and transnational investors. The new internal frontiers opened up by this process are fundamental to the reproduction and restructuring of colonial African state formations, although there are also substantial differences from the colonial period. Land dispossession also serves combined economic accumulation and political logics by deepening power differentials and dependencies between citizens and the state. The ways in which these processes are empirically expressed is explored through a case study of Uganda.

An example of land grab in Uganda: Banga Central Forest Reserve

Dr. Shane McGuiness, who recently completed his PhD at TCD Geography, was also at the conference and presented work from his PhD in a paper titled ‘The political ecology of crop raiding: effects of distal factors on human-wildlife conflict in northern Rwanda’. In this Shane discusses how ambitions of human development and the conservation of endangered biodiversity are often opposing. This is framed, particularly in the developing world, as human-wildlife conflict; the antagonism between ‘vindictive wildlife’ and subsistence communities. The paper addresses one such conflict and the wider suite of drivers affecting its nature and magnitude; Volcanoes National Park (VNP), northern Rwanda.

Shane with data collectors from the local subsistence communities near Volcanoes National Park

Both Padraig’s and Shane’s talk can be accessed via the link below, and both are well worth a listen:

Podcasts from the conference of Political Ecology and Development: Resources, Power and Justice


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