Call for proposals on panel: “Governing and contesting African environments,” BISA-ISA International Conference, Edinburgh (UK) 20-22 June 2012

20 July 2011

Abstract: Whether in regard to the extraction of natural resources (oil, gas, coal, aluminium, copper, etc) or the degradation of ecosystems (including agriculture, water, forests, and pollution) African environments have always been a focus of governance and contestation. New challenges are becoming increasingly evident, however, such as climate change, the intensification of agriculture, increased urbanisation and industrialisation, and new technologies such as GM and geo-engineering. New forms of governance are crystallising around community-based resource management, transboundary conservation areas, climate adaptation plans, new regulatory and investor agreements, and sustainable development strategies. New actors are also emerging, most obviously the Chinese presence in the competition for mineral resources, but also including land-for-food grabs by Gulf states and US university hedge funds, increased investment and strategic cooperation from India and Brazil, new coalitions around climate change and the UN Adaptation Fund, transnational corporations eager for raw materials, emerging consumer markets, or corporate ‘greening’ opportunities, and burgeoning global and local social movements mobilising around a wide range of environmental issues, broadly defined.

This panel seeks to explore cases such as these, as well as considering how best to theorise the governance and contestation of African environments. Are existing theoretical tools drawn from African studies, global governance, regime theory, social movement theory, ecological modernisation, sustainable development, critical political ecology and so on adequate to comprehend these developments? Or are new theoretical
approaches needed, including new interdisciplinary borrowings and

Researchers working on all aspects and at all levels of environmental politics in Africa are invited to submit a 200 word abstract and their institutional affiliation and contact details.

Papers should include some reflection on the international and global dimensions of African environmental governance and contestation, as well as some reflection on the suitability of existing or new theoretical approaches to the field. Please send proposals to Dr Carl Death ( by Thursday 11 August.

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