Call for papers, panel “Territoriality, Forms of Belonging and the Ecologist Turn”, Association for African Studies in Italy 2024

The Association for African Studies in Italy (ASAI) is organizing its VII Biennial Conference, Longing for Belonging: Communities and Divides in Africa, which will be held on 12-14 September 2024 at the University of Messina.

Here the call for papers of a panel coordinated by Francesca Di Matteo and Claire Médard:

Territoriality, Forms of Belonging and the Ecologist Turn

When Legitimising the Climate Agenda via the Community Narrative Makes it Unsustainable

Since the colonial era, state interventions asserting political control have rigidified forms of belonging. By confining people territorially through boundaries, the colonial government shaped new local ontologies on the model of the native homelands. By both crystallising socio-cultural relations and arresting movements, which used to sustain each other in the co-evolution of landscapes, local connections were also severed in fortress conservation. Independent African states have taken up this territorial legacy as well as a linear developmentalist vision, embracing extractive and extraverted economic models, often in blatant continuity with the colonial trajectory. Since the 1990s and increasingly in the last 10-15 years, the ecologist or conservationist agenda, re-baptised the climate agenda, has prompted a renewal of externally-driven interventions, sustained by state and non-state actors, in African rural land regimes, and participating in the fragmentation of communal lands, let alone in forms of green grabbing. This panel interrogates the extent to which the climate agenda is producing unsustainable interventions, de facto benefiting translocal capitals, and contributing to reconfigure rural landscapes, the land rights of local populations, the legitimacy of authorities governing land regimes, the socio-cultural worldviews of the people, and their capacity of self-determination. The localisation of climate mitigation efforts is translating in a renewed emphasis on community-centred or participatory projects and investments. But what does the community narrative mean in this context? The promotion by conservationists of a romanticised vision of the ‘community’, understood as a homogenous and immutable whole, and the persistent paradigm grounding climate interventions in the narrative of indigenous knowledge and practices actually trample local populations, reviving the colonial mantra of divide and rule. Divisions along ethnic, clan, socio-economic and political lines are reactivated, undermining reciprocity relationship within groups. In fact, interventions reverse resilient livelihood strategies, buttress state territorial control and sustain powerful networks and interest groups. This is how the implementation of the climate agenda becomes unsustainable. Hence, this panel calls for an analysis of climate agenda-driven interventions and the underlying complex web of power relationships, reinvention of groups and linkages within a locality. 

 The deadline to submit a proposal is June 9, 2024.

To download the form for the paper proposal connect to the page “ASAI Conferences” at this LINK, where information about registration fees and payment details is also available.

Those who wish to submit a proposal should write directly to the panel organizer(s) by sending them the form downloadable online with name and affiliation of the paper proposer; title of the proposal; abstract (maximum 300 words); panel in which the paper is proposed. 

Francesca Di Matteo:

Claire Médard:

OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
IFRA Nairobi (May 27, 2024). Call for papers, panel “Territoriality, Forms of Belonging and the Ecologist Turn”, Association for African Studies in Italy 2024. IFRA Nairobi. Retrieved July 16, 2024 from

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