Item description for Beyond Territory and Scarcity: Exploring Conflicts over Natural Resource Management by Quentin Gausset...
The attainment of sound and sustainable environmental management is one of humanity's greatest challenges this century, particularly in Africa, which is still heavily dependent on the exploitation of natural and agricultural resources and is faced with rapid population growth. Yet, this challenge should not be reduced to Malthusian parameters and the simple question of population growth and failing resources. In this volume, ten anthropologists and geographers critically address traditional Malthusian discourses in essays that attempt to move "beyond territory and scarcity" by: - Exploring alternatives to the strong natural determinism that reduces natural resource management to questions of territory and scarcity. - Presenting material and methodologies that explore the different contexts in which social and cultural values intervene, and discovering more than "rational choice" in the agency of individuals. - Examining the relevance of the different conceptions of territory for the ways in which people manage, or attempt to manage, natural resources. - Placing their research within the framework of the developing discussion on policy and politics in natural resource management. The studies are drawn from a range of sub-Saharan African countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Lesotho, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan.
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Studio: Nordic Africa Institute
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.37" Width: 6.46" Height: 0.55" Weight: 1.01 lbs.
Publisher Nordic Africa Institute
ISBN 9171065407 ISBN13 9789171065407
Availability 0 units.
More About Quentin Gausset
Quentin Gausset has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Reviews - What do customers think about Beyond Territory and Scarcity: Exploring Conflicts over Natural Resource Management?
A scandinavian synthesis of African development research Jan 19, 2008
Environmental scarcity has been studied as a potential causal variable in conflict analysis by economists and political scientists for the past several decades. However, other social scientists have until recently not paid much attention to an integrative study of natural resource conflict. This volume attempts to provide an alternative perspective to conflict analysis by building on theories of political ecology that have developed from Marxist geography and cultural anthropology. The political ecology framework dispenses with neo-Malthusian accounts anchored in population determinism and linear causality. Instead, it calls for a more dialectical approach to understanding why certain environmental conditions breed violence by focusing on the processes by which natural resources are manipulated by vested interests for assuming power.
Some of the theoretical arguments presented in this volume have been explored previously by Nancy Peluso and Michael Watts in their edited volume titled Violent Environments (Cornell University Press, 2003). However, the editors of Beyond Territory and Scarcity have managed to provide more in-depth case analysis by focusing on the African continent. Nine countries across the continent are examined by the authors, most of whom have affiliations with Scandinavian research centers, and participated in a workshop organized by the Institutes of Geography and Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen in 2002.
The introductory chapter by the editors provides a worthwhile coverage of some of the literature on environment and security including a critical analysis of agency and social resilience. As the editors acknowledge "one of the important contributions of Malthusian and neo-Malthusian models is that they make individual agency central" (p. 17). Human consumption of natural resources and the scientific constraints of carrying capacity are thus more directly attenuated to the neo-Malthusian approach. Indeed, this is where the political ecologists often receive the most criticism since they tend to neglect the physical constraints of resource availability. The editors develop the concept of "political scarcity" rather than "natural scarcity", that is somewhat abstract in the context of climatic change or desertification.
The importance of political and economic failure versus natural scarcity has been studied by economists as a determinant of famines, most notably in the Nobel-prize-winning work of economist Amartya Sen. However, even so, environmental degradation can still lead to greater "natural scarcity" and exacerbate "political scarcity." It was perhaps this observation that led to the awarding of the 2004 Nobel Peace prize to the Kenyan environmentalist Wangaari Maathai. The linkage between desertification and the Darfour crisis in Sudan is one that Dr. Maathai and other environmentalists have frequently made. The contributors to this volume would disagree with this causality and instead focus on the land tenure regimes and institutional and cultural factors that have led to alienation and conflict in the region.
While accusing prior research on resource-induced conflict of being "reductionist", the editors of this volume appear to fall into the same trap of presenting a highly focused theory of conflict. A critique of neo-Malthusian approaches must still recognize the physical constraints on the environment and the complex causality of conflict as humans contend with the limitations of natural systems. The peril of only following a political model is that it distracts environmental planners and managers (whom the authors are keen to address) from focusing on the importance of individual environmental behavior. By pushing the burden of causality on embedded power structures, Marxist analyses of the environment often absolve individual consumption patterns and ecological behavior of human societies.
Despite these deficiencies, this is a well-researched and clearly written volume that provides some detailed ethnographic analyses of African conflicts. The authors have admirably covered a range of cases across the continent and there is consistent quality between chapters. The book serves as a welcome complement, but not a replacement, to existing economic and political analyses of resource conflicts.