Category Archives: Environment

Billy goes to Marikana: the staged lives and times of two mining towns


The author Alinah Kelo Segobye recently received funding from the Rotary Peace Centre, Peace Studies Department as a visiting scholar at the University of Bradford in 2016.
In this article she discusses and narrates the case and experiences of two mining towns.
Please find link to full article:

About the Author


Alinah Kelo Segobye has recently completed a term as visiting scholar at the Rotary Peace Centre, University of Bradford. She is an honorary professor at the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI), UNISA and former Deputy Executive Director at the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa. Segobye’s research includes Africa’s development, the archaeology of southern Africa, indigenous knowledge systems, heritage studies and HIV/AIDS. She has served as an advisor, facilitator and expert for a number of international organizations. She has authored and co-authored a number of essays and book chapters on themes including Africa’s development outlooks and the future of the past in Africa.


Annual Peace Studies & International Development Conference: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa

The annual Peace Studies & International Development conference for Africanist doctoral students and early post-doctoral career scholars and practitioners is scheduled to take place on the 11th May 2017 at the University of Bradford in United Kingdom.

The conference theme is: Resources, Conflict and Development in Africa.

Conference cluster themes include:

1) Natural Resources and Conflict

2) Transition from Resource Conflict to Peace and Peacebuilding

3) Natural Resources, Demographic Change and Development

4) Conflict, Security, Peace and Development Nexus

5) Regional Integration, Security and Development

6) Africa and the Rest of the World
The conference is open to doctoral students and early career scholars, researchers and practitioners. Potential participants and paper presenters are required to submit an Abstract of 200 – 300 words on or before 15th November 2016 to:    
All shortlisted participants will be required to submit the first draft of their papers at least two months before the conference. The conference is expected to result in a co-edited book (Lead Editor: Professor Kenneth Omeje, Senior Research Fellow, John & Elnora Ferguson Centre of African Studies, University of Bradford). Kindly note that all short-listed participants will be responsible for the full-cost of their participation, including visa, travels, accommodation and subsistence.

For full details on the conference: conference-call-oct-2016-revised-version-1

Oil price slump: Lesson for the new oil frontiers in Africa

[Image credit: Nicola Zinerelli_Gabon, Western Africa. One of the many oil rigs sitting on the continental shelf]

The recent tumbling oil price to below $50 dollars has not hit the largest exporting country alone. The impact is felt world all over and worse in the economies dependent on oil and gas industry for its growth. Oil companies are rethinking their strategies, cutting costs and downsizing activities while oil dependent countries have been forced to undergo austerity measures and  reduce national budgets in order to minimize deficits. The oil price decline as forecasted by a World Bank report will remain low in 2015 with a slight rise in 2016 unless the major players decide to intervene, which has so far not been the case. In the Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria an OPEC member hardest hit had to raise its taxes and cut spending.  A number of African countries as reported by IMF are at risk from the fall of oil prices, as oil exports account for a larger percent of their GDPs.  What does this portent to the new oil frontiers?

On a brighter side, the odds are in favour of East African region being major oil importers. The plunge in oil prices means a reduction on the import bills, reported to have had a positive effect on their growth. According to a Bloomberg report, stock prices have soared in the East African countries, 22% in Tanzania, 18% in Uganda and 9.4% in Kenya whereas in Nigeria, the stock index fell by 24%. On the other hand, the plummeting oil price is threatening the exploration boom in the region as companies reset their focus and slash their expenditures. Fortunately, the region’s onshore exploration makes it favourable for investors of its low cost maintenance and technology advantage. London based Tullow Oil, a key player in the region, reports a reduction in their exploration budget to $200 million, majority of it focused on the East African onshore exploration and appraisals.

The region should brace itself for significant delays on oil related infrastructural projects such as a regional pipeline, refineries and port constructions due to its reliance on external investments.  While this is seen as a negative effect, it could also be a blessing in disguise! The rush to become major oil exporters needs a careful rethinking based on the current oil price reality. This is a perfect opportunity for the region’s governments to draw lessons from this experience and rethink their resource governance strategies. From sub-Saharan region alone, it is clear undiversified economies bore the brunt of oil price slumps thus the need for oil frontiers to sort out their regulatory, legislative and fiscal policies in order to attract the investors in the recovery period. The other reality is certainly the hostility of the global market to the new entrants and current oil price plunge exemplifies it. Last but not least is the cyclical nature of commodity prices, a reality which engulfs the natural resource trap countries. Kenya 1976-79 coffee booms should serve as a lesson to the region.


Downfall as Transformation: David Chandler’s Relationalist Disaster Reduction and Risk Management

[Image credit: Jocelyn Augustino / FEMA Photo 15022 Creative Commons (New Orleans, 2005)]

‘We are producing and consuming disasters’. For Professor David Chandler and other advocates of relational ontology this is the epiphany of the ‘advent of the anthropocene’.

As part of the JEFCAS Seminar Series, David Chandler spoke about the genealogy behind disaster risk management and reflexive governance. Armed with ‘virtual power points’ offering comparisons between traditional ‘first responses’, the Hyogo Agreement, and the Sendai framework, Chandler pulled back the curtain on relational ontology as de facto reality.

Ulrich Beck, whom Chandler referenced, writes of this new world, or more precisely a metamorphosis, or verwandlung: global metamorphosis. A world where everything and our perception of everything is in flux: boundaries adjusted by disaster, shocks that ‘induce a basic sense of ethical and existential violation’, and the delegitimization of ‘methodological nationalism’. In effect, metamorphosis exposes the ‘disconnection between those who produce risk and those who experience it’.

Indeed, this is Chandler’s main point: ‘we are producing and consuming disaster’. Beck highlights this process as having ‘emancipatory catastrophism’, meaning that these shocks (be they climate, financial, or violent atrocity), can further the cause of justice by unmasking ecological and human abuses and inequalities. The prime example of this used by Beck and Chandler is the catastrophe and shock of Katrina: was it the fact that the space of communities had been wiped away, or that communities were undeserving of empathy, but deserving of militarized “disaster relief”? What became apparent were the injustices of the anthropocene and persistent racism in the US.

Comparing the traditional Kyogo and recent Sendai frameworks, Chandler reaches the conclusion that we are moving, or experiencing verwandlung, toward a relational ontology. This is producing the seeds of reflexive, or everyday governance. Neoliberal localism (seen in the UK as decentralizing governing to local councils without budget, forcing privatization and public spending cuts) and the rationality of markets is evolving into acknowledgement of everyday practice and localism that is somewhat more authentic in its focus on local knowledge and environment.

Deeper into Chandler’s relational account is another wholesale recognition of the failure of modernity. This drum has been thoroughly banged out by critical theorists and postmodernists, however, relational ontology takes a different tact. It appeals to a holistic, neo-cosmopolitanism that is no longer aspirational, but “real” in terms of facing the existential challenges to humanity and the ever the increasing shocks we produce. There is a prophecy lodged in here for radical democracy, contingent on reflexive governance. Without this promise ‘disaster risk management’ could evolve into a dystopian future of totalitarian proportions.

The acknowledgement of the existential threat and associated daily/deadly risks, borne by the least among us, must recognize risk production by the beneficiaries contemporary living. But this is the saliency of the arguement: when we relate within ourselves as humanity, we can see the disconnection and toxic productions framed within the overall threat. Thereby making it possible to avoid futures such as those described by M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening where Gaia gets revenge, or a Planet of the Apes future where humans regress in the face of their own progress.

The ‘fragility of things’ then becomes our prime concern along with the embracing of self-organization outside of ourselves as part of verwandlung.



Ulrich Beck, Emancipatory catastrophism: What does it mean to climate change and risk society?, Current Sociology 63(1), (2015)

James Lovelock, Revenge of Gaia (2007), Observer book review

William Connolly, The Fragility of Things (2013)


Further reading:

David Chandler’s professional page (Links to his blog)

David Chandler, Resilience: The Governance of Complexity (2014)

Hyogo Agreement site

Sendai Agreement site

Rick Dolphijn and Iris van der Tuin, New Materialism: Interviews and Cartographies (2012)