Abstracts for 'Environmental Politics and Change' Seminar, 19 June 2013, King's College London


"Now I feel the heat as much as white people do..." Social movements, climate change and environmental politics in South Africa
Dr Carl Death, Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University

Why is there no strong environmental movement in South Africa? There are plentiful environmental grievances, manifold resources available to potential movements, and a broadly favourable political opportunity structure. This paper sets out why, from a comparative perspective and drawing on literature on other environmental movements, South Africa is an auspicious context for a 'green' movement. With this in mind, the paper then briefly reviews the organisations and networks commonly referred to as 'greens' and 'browns', and explores the limits to their growth as movements. The paper then argues that we should broaden our conception of what constitutes an environmental movement and consider movements that have arisen over issues of housing, land, service delivery and consumption. Greater attention to the culturally specific connotations of the environment in different societies would enrich the comparative literature on the green movement, as well as enable a fuller discussion of African environmental politics.

“A Relatively Luxurious and Sophisticated Type of Recreation”: Constructing a Wilderness Experience for Africans at Manyeleti Game Reserve, 1962-85
Edward Teversham, St Cross College, University of Oxford

Most academic studies of wildernesses, as contained in national parks or game reserves, conceive of them as the playthings of wealthy Europeans or Americans. Manyeleti, however, was a game reserve established by the South African state in the 1960s to cater to the emergent black middle class in South Africa. It was one of the only examples of a game reserve actively targeting the African market. Situated on the borders of the Kruger Park, one of its principal aims was to convert the new African elites to conservationist ways of thinking. The rest camp inside the reserve had a bar, a restaurant, and a swimming pool to inspire an enjoyment of nature. In the late 1970s a new plan was envisaged: a wilderness trail for key ‘decision makers’. This paper explores the planning of the wilderness trail experience, but places it within the wider context of the Manyeleti project. It argues that unique ideas of wilderness arose at Manyeleti as the apartheid state attempted to convince its clientele of the need for conservation. 

Preliminary thoughts on the valorisation of "green uranium" in Africa
Dr Sian Sullivan, Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies, Birkbeck College

Two of Africa's premier eco-tourism destinations, Namibia and Tanzania, are now poised to become two of the world's leading suppliers of uranium. This would perhaps be unremarkable if it were not for the ways in which uranium extraction is entwined with biodiversity conservation in both countries. In July 2012, UNESCO granted the Government of Tanzania permission to excise part of the Selous Game Reserve (a designated world heritage site) for uranium mining. In Namibia, exclusive prospecting licenses have been granted inside Namib-Naukluft and Dorob National Parks and may affect communal area conservancies. Newly extracted uranium is also proposed to be 'green', in part through suggesting biodiversity offsets as a method for mitigating mining impacts. In this paper, I highlight four ways in which uranium extraction in Africa is becoming systemically entwined with conservation and 'green' practice, drawing on Namibia and Tanzania as key and consolidating examples. These are, 1. through the paradoxical locating of uranium mines in National Parks and other protected areas; 2. through the uptake of biodiversity offsetting discourse and technologies to apparently 'offset' extractive impacts; 3. through additional strategies of mimesis that enable mining corporations to appear increasingly to resemble conservation organisations; and 4. through the invoking, internationally, of uranium-derived nuclear power as a low- or even zero-carbon energy source. This paper is a work in progress on which I am collaborating with anthropologist Prof. Jim Igoe. Nonetheless, we are arriving at a tentative conclusion that notes that the systemic and empowered entraining of mineral extraction with conservation and 'green' discourse enhances extractive possibilities through occluding the contradictions between the two activities. The conservation possibilities for those charged with protecting biodiversity thus are limited, even as these activities are valorised as 'green'. I also include some comments regarding the polysemic and productive meanings of 'valorisation' in this case.

Institutions, bricolage and “going with the grain”: everyday water governance  in rural Zimbabwe
Professor Frances Cleaver, Environment, Politics and Development Group, King’s College London

'Much contemporary thinking about African development is concerned with the hybrid nature of governance, in which professionalised or bureaucratic elements combine with local practices and the norms of moral economy. Increasingly, instead of being seen as dysfunctional, these are being investigated as ‘arrangements that work’, pragmatic hybrids that can secure best fit between development policy imperatives and local practices. This paper brings a study of the everyday relations of water management in one village in Zimbabwe  into critical engagement with such policy ideas about  'working with the grain' . I explore the ways in which water governance arrangements evolve locally over time, how hybrid arrangements are vested with authority and the wider meanings of people-water interactions ( in terms of citizenship, relationships with the state, belonging and identity). I argue we need to analyse practical hybrid arrangements for water governance in a wider institutional landscape and to consider their impacts on equity as well as their effectiveness.'