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Seminar: Connor Cavanagh on responses to violent eviction

28th April 2016 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Differentiated dispossession: ‘Hunter-gatherer’ responses to violent eviction from Embobut Forest Reserve, western Kenya

Seminar by Connor Joseph Cavanagh

Convening Space, Institute of Development Studies
Library Road, Falmer, UK

Critical scholarship on global land and ‘green’ grabbing has begun to examine the politics of variegation in diverse ‘responses from below’, or the ways in which various particularities of place influence community reactions to land and resource acquisitions. These discussions are informed by a longstanding tradition of scholarship on the class dynamics of agrarian change, or the ways in which processes of ‘dispossession from above’ via land acquisitions might intersect with processes of ‘dispossession from below’ in the form of gradual differentiation and rural class formation. In some cases, however, we argue that these analyses have not sufficiently historicized and disaggregated the concept of ‘community’ to reveal how variables such as gender, land tenure, and prevailing modes of production refract both the impacts of dispossession and the forms of resistance that emerge in its wake. Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork on the case of the indigenous Sengwer community’s violent eviction from Embobut Forest Reserve in western Kenya, we illuminate the ways in which

  1. i) dispossession for conservation entails novel consequences for communities that understand themselves as ‘hunters and gatherers’, as opposed to agriculturalists or pastoralists,
  2. ii) how these consequences are themselves differentiated, placing unique burdens on women, youths, and the elderly in particular. We conclude with a discussion of how such variegation in experiences of dispossession informs ongoing struggles for radically alternative modes of indigenous conservation in Embobut forest.

About Connor Joseph Cavanagh

Connor Joseph Cavanagh is currently a PhD Fellow in the Dept. of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric) at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and a Research Fellow in Science Domain 5 – Ecosystem Services at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi. Broadly defined, Connor’s research examines tensions and contradictions within processes of uneven conservation and development in eastern Africa, with a specific interest on transformations in forest governance. Recent articles have appeared in Forum for Development Studies, Antipode, the Journal of Peasant Studies, Forest Policy and Economics, and Geoforum.


28th April 2016
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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Room 221, Institute of Development Studies
Library Road, Falmer
Brighton, BN1 9RE United Kingdom
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