CALL FOR PAPERS – Old Land-New Practices? The Changing Face of Land & Conservation in Postcolonial Africa

Panel and paper proposals are due on or before March 30,  2012 and should be e-mailed to with the words ‘panel’ (and/or) ‘proposal submission’ in the subject line.  Download Abstract submission form.

The conference will take place September 11th – 14th, 2012, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa and is being organised by Georgina Barrett (Rhodes University), Nqobile Zulu (University of Witwatersrand), Jenny Josefsson and Shirley Brooks (University of the Free State).

The ‘land issue’ is omnipresent across post-colonial Africa. It is a highly contentious and contested topic, which at times has proven explosive (Zimbabwe, Kenya), or else a persistent focus of identity politics (Tanzania, Sudan), or central to historically rooted struggles for equality and restitution (South Africa, Botswana). Yet, the legacy of colonial land use management from which these struggles are borne, continues to inform contemporary conservation policy practices. They are also conceptualised and legitimated by a fusion of international environmental and neoliberal market agendas and regional and national policy exigencies, framed by diverse socio-economic development challenges. One of many ‘solutions’ borne of this conjuncture has been the spread of conservation and environmental protection strategies which promise to ‘deliver’ on the requisite national economic and environmental priorities in adherence to broader international and regional prerogatives. Such promises are bound to the success of market orientated strategies for the preservation of Africa’s biodiversity. Furthermore, they are tied to the commoditization of wildlife and wild spaces, and the ‘mass production’ thereof in a range of state-owned, private or joint partnership ventures, including parks, farms and conservancies. The results are not yet fully comprehensible, but it is evident that the post-colonial echoes the colonial, and in this continuity conservation and environmental protection strategies may perpetuate historical insecurities through the alienation of local communities from land ownership and management practices.

This conference was inspired by conversations amongst attendees of the
Nature Inc. conference held at the Institute for Social Sciences (ISS) at The Hague in June 2011 interested in the complex issues surrounding land, conservation, and ‘security’ within an African context. It therefore aims to contribute to the development and sharing of knowledge and expertise with an explicitly pan-African focus. Specifically, it seeks to critically engage with the nexus between post-colonial land use changes and the development of conservation initiatives across the continent at both the theoretical and practical level with cognisance of their historical precedence.

The conference will be organised around the following themes:
• Conservation as a post-colonial land use option
• Historical and contemporary ecological imperialism
• Land use and identity politics
• Gender dynamics and conservation land use strategies
• Alienation, (in)security and conflict
• State and private environmental/conservation agendas
• Community-based natural resource management
• Market driven environmentalism and conservation in Africa
• Continuities and divergences in colonial (and apartheid) and post-colonial
• Theoretical debates and practical realities- never the twain shall meet?

For more information about registration, paper and panel submissions, guest speakers, field trips and the opportunity to publish papers in a special edition of
Journal of Contemporary African Studies, amongst others, go to the conference
website HERE.