Workshop on Communal Sovereignty in the Era of Globalization: Competing for Natural Resources

First invitation to a workshop to be held by the Seminar for Development Studies at Uppsala University,
on Saturday 25 October 2003.

Venue: Collegium for Development Studies, Övre Slottsgatan 1, Uppsala

Registration no later than October 10, 2003, by sending a mail to sds@kus.uu.se

Background: The workshop will critically analyze how local communities (primarily in the Third World) are affected by the world-wide changes of the legally defined rights to own and use natural resources. Many communities find themselves exposed to increasing restrictions of their use of the natural environment, the right to which (as usufruct or property) they previously may have been granted through state regulated legislation as part of a notion of ”common good.” The use of natural resources is today a contested arena where various actors, many of which are international, claim their interests. Simultaneously, states are abandoning their sovereign control of these resources as well as the control of the arena where rights to resources have been regulated.

We particularly wish to look at the consequences these changes have for ”place-based peoples,” peoples and communities that to a high degree have formed their livelihood and identity situated in a specific territory. What have the consequences been for peoples' means to subsistence and relative autonomy, as well as the ways they organize their lives and construct their experiences of the natural environment and their relation to the specific place? We will also look at responses from local communities in the attempt to resist the imposed exclusion from natural resources, sometimes in new, unorthodox alliances with other local stake-holders, sometimes in cooperation with a diverse transnational social movement. Ultimately, the workshop aims to explore the new forms of ”politics of nature” that are evolving as a consequence of these legal changes.

In the workshop, we will look at three different types of global resource control affecting local communities, each addressed through a case study:

– Neoliberal market oriented privatization, where the privileged access to natural resources is granted the highest bidder, often transnational corporations.
– Environment protection regulations promoted by international non-governmental organizations, sometimes colliding with local interests.
– Intra-state regulations, whether concerning commerce, development planning or environment protection.

The opening keynote address will be held by Arturo Escobar, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, USA. Prof. Escobar is internationally renown for his work on political ecology, He has recently focused on the interrelations among state, capital, and social movements in a Colombia rainforest region in their struggles over the definition of, and control over, the regions biodiverse resources.

More information will appear from September 2003 on the web page of the Collegium for Development Studies.


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