Monday, December 05, 2011


CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: “Embattled Spaces – Contested Orders”

The conference of Africa Studies Association in Germany (VAD) entitled “Embattled Spaces – Contested Orders”, will take place from May 30 - June 2, 2012 in Cologne. The conference will include a panel on "Africa’s land as a contested arena for international and national biofuel policies and actors", on the linkages between biofuel policies worldwide and african land acquisitions.

Panel 06: Africa’s land as a contested arena for international and national biofuel policies and actors

Land in Africa is an increasingly contested resource, with manifold consequences for economic development, poverty, social differentiation, political stability and conflicts. One of the reasons for this trend is increasing global demand for biofuels, spurred largely by biofuels promotion policies in developed and developing countries. As a consequence, new types of political coalitions and economic investments have begun to emerge from categories of actors new to the continent, for instance: Brazilian development cooperation partners, Asian investors and European energy enterprises. They search for political allies in their quest to establish new markets, and/or want to boost biofuel feedstock production and value chains. On the one hand, as the European Union and other nations with biofuel consumption mandates expect that they cannot produce enough biofuels domestically, African lands have become one of the arenas of a worldwide “battle” over the future of biofuel in future energy policies. On the other hand African countries are actors with their own interests (though less active policies) to shape this battle and the discussion about the proper handling of biofuels is far from being settled both within and outside of Africa. In particular, it is not yet clear how large-scale production of biofuel feedstocks will fit with the existing agricultural production systems, rural economies and social realities, given that this would require a massive reallocation of land use and/or ownership. Given the emerging new international political economic constellations surrounding biofuels, whether and how biofuel feedstock will be produced on African land depends not only on internal decisions but also on external forces, particularly given the fact the African actors are generally politically and economically delicate, as are their alliances. The picture painted here leaves a variety of important questions which this panel aims to address: Are there examples of successful or unsuccessful biofuel production in Africa, and what are the roles of external actors? How do external actors contribute to African biofuel policies and investments? What is the role of African countries in the international biofuel policy debate? The panel is looking to attract papers that explore these, and similar, questions and to provide some answers as to how land use changes related to biofuels and their associated political and economic investments have been influenced by, and are influencing, emerging international constellations of actors, discourses and practices.

More information and application.

Deadline: December 31, 2011

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