Joint PhD Seminar: Kate Symons and Christopher Schulz
Thu 16 Apr 2015, 16:30 - 17:40
Old Library Drummond Street

If you have a question about this talk, please contact: Claire MacDonnell (clairema)

Please note the later than usual start and the seminar will be followed by wine and nibbles (from about 5:40pm)

Kate Symons: This paper considers the articulation between Mozambique’s ‘green economy’ discourse and its growing extractives boom. It uses the case of a proposed deep water port and associated infrastructure within the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve (PPMR) to argue for a more foregrounded view of state-led post-colonial development in Mozambique. It argues that this state-led development paradigm demonstrates an explicitly exploitative view of nature which is, in some ways, distinct from green neoliberalism. It outlines the characteristics of the state-centric model in Mozambique as: Centred on the production of an extractive state which encourages natural resource exploitation (especially coal and gas, but also tourism); displaying an exploitative view of nature along with an emphasis on large infrastructure construction to serve both fossil fuel extraction and export, and also tourism; and which centralises state power in some areas (notably extraction). The extractive state is both enabled by, and is in tension with green development. The state-centric model articulates with the green economy where it can offer a fix for the ecological and social contradictions of extraction, but also is a distinct discourse, resulting in a complex and hybrid picture. The paper calls for a refocus on ‘post-socialist’ state-led development visions, and how they interact with green economy discourses in developing contexts.

Christopher Schulz: The Cuiabá River Basin is located in the Brazilian State of Mato Grosso, in the geographical centre of South America. This area is experiencing not only a rapid expansion and modernization of its agricultural sector, but is also host to the Pantanal, the world’s largest continental freshwater wetland and a unique ecosystem with great importance for biodiversity conservation. My PhD research aims at exploring the different values that stakeholders from different parts of society, such as farmers, government agencies, fishermen, and researchers, attach to water resources in the area. Up to now, it is based on qualitative interviews to key stakeholders, conducted between October and December 2014, as well as participant observation at water-related events. While monetary valuation techniques are continuously developed and applied in natural resource management, calls to take alternative and non-monetary dimensions of value into account have never been silenced. Prominent examples are Martinez-Alier’s “languages of valuation” (2002) or O’Neill et al.’s (2008) discussion of the philosophical bases of environmental values, which demonstrate that there is a set of diverging basic values which may not be converted into each other, e.g. by using monetary figures as a measurement tool. My PhD research uses a wide conception of value as a theoretical basis, drawing on material from human geography, ecological economics, environmental philosophy, as well as social and environmental psychology. It aims at understanding how both values assigned to water resources, as well as values as guiding principles are distributed among different stakeholder groups. Moreover, it introduces concrete water governance issues in the Cuiabá River Basin and shows how these are shaped by the interplay of different types of values and political power.