Event: Future-Making At The Margins – Social-Ecological Transformation In Rural Africa, Dec. 14 2016 @ BIEA

December 11, 2016 at 4:18 pm Leave a comment

Date: December 14, 2016
Venue: BIEA
Time: 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

By Detlef Müller-Mahn, Professor, Department of Geography, University of Bonn, Germany

Africa is ‘rising’ and accompanying this process are ambitious new development plans and policies. Kenya´s Vision 2030 and similar long-term programs in neighboring countries are presenting maps of the future that will, if implemented, lead to massive social-ecological transformations of rural areas.

Development blueprints aim to ‘turn history on its head’, enabling previously-ignored dryland regions to become engines of economic growth for the wider benefit of these nations. The process is simultaneously redrawing the map of marginal regions and redrawing the relations between people and environments in order to gain greater control over and make ‘more productive’ use of these environments.

The paper explores the nature and spatial politics of these processes. While on the one hand the processes are having widespread differential impacts, plans are often much less ‘total’ than is imagined, creating space for different possibilities in people-environment relations. At the same time, the implementation of development schemes is full of surprises. Future-making may be understood as a combination of practices of anticipation and imagination, with largely unknown consequences.

Detlef Müller-Mahn is a professor of development geography at the University of Bonn. His research focuses on the political ecology of land use change, risk and development in East Africa and the Middle East.

His recent projects are dealing with diverse topics, including risk management strategies of pastoralists in Ethiopia; urban governance and water distribution in the city of Khartoum; and adaptation to climate change and how it can be understood as a “travelling idea” that is negotiated at international conferences (the COP 21 in Paris 2015) and local projects (Ethiopia, Kenya).

He is currently preparing a collaborative research center on “Future rural Africa”, which will address the relationship between “future-making” and social-ecological transformation.



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