CRC Lecture Series

CRC Lecture Series


09.12 On the coloniality of East Africa's 'new' development corridors

by Charis Enns, University of Sheffield
Across East Africa, rural space is being transformed through the implementation of national spatial planning strategies. Conveyed through documents like Kenya’s National Spatial Plan (2015 – 2045) and Tanzania’s Integrated Industrial Development Strategy 2025, East Africa’s approach to spatial planning is predicated on the (re)zoning of land and large-scale investments in infrastructure to facilitate the movement of commodities between rural resource frontiers, industrial processing zones, urban centres and global markets. This talk will focus on the longue durée of East Africa’s contemporary spatial planning strategies. The talk will begin by historicising Kenya’s and Tanzania’s current national spatial plans to reveal how the unfulfilled imaginaries, visions and aspirations of both colonial and early independence administrators risk being reproduced through the implementation of spatial plans today. The talk will then turn to a case study of Kenya’s northern rangelands as a case study. This case study will be used to illustrate how contemporary spatial planning risks carrying problematic ambitions from the colonial past into the present. The talk will conclude by reflecting on why some spaces in rural East Africa have remained neglected by spatial plans – both today and in the past.
Time: 16:15 – 17:45 / Venue:Geozentrum, Meckenheimer Allee 176, Ü VIII


14.11 Why Embracing Uncertainty means rethinking development and reimagining the future

by Ian Scoones, Professor, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, co-director ESRC STEPS Centre ( and PI European Research Council Advanced Grant, PASTRES (
This talk makes the argument for putting uncertainty at the centre of thinking and practice in development. This means rejecting a linear, technocratic framing and embracing the implications of uncertainty for today’s complex, dynamic world. Through a number of examples – from the fields of banking, critical infrastructures and disease control – the elements of new thinking on uncertainty and development are explored. The talk argues, however, that those who live with and from uncertainty day-to-day are best placed to innovate and help refashion development more broadly. Examples from pastoralism from around the world are offered to demonstrate the importance of learning from the margins. The talk concludes with a reflection on new directions for development that take uncertainty seriously and help refashion the way we imagine the future.
Time: 16:15 – 17:45 / Venue: Geographisches Institut der Universität Bonn, Meckenheimer Allee 166, Alfred-Philippson-Hörsaal



08.07.2019 Progressive Masculinities – A critical examination of possibilities to enable freedom of choice and equity beyond the strict gender-binary

by Muriel Aichberger
A new fashionable term occured in masculinity studies several years ago: toxic masculinity describes the negative side effects of the hegemonic image of masculinity. This image affects men in their behaviour and thus society as a whole. However, there seem to be no alternatives to the toxic hegemonic way of being masculine. Especially the strict hierarchal binary in which men face sanctions if they behave effeminately, which is perceived ‘unmanly’, makes being a ‘good man’ seem to be impossible. But is it really? Based on Connell’s hegemonic masculinity and the younger concept of progressive masculinities, the presentation investigates the precondition and the potential of a politically aware and responsible understanding of progressive masculine gender-performances. Especially traditions of non-hegemonic masculinities can help imagining a way into a future where a variety of gender-performances can coexist as equally valid and possible. PMs are understood as a way of escaping the toxic effects of hegemonic gender performance and show possibilities as an alternative and a link between the strict gender-binary and a gender-diverse future, also stating that queerness and political awareness are a crucial part of a new understanding of masculinities.
Time: 16:15 – 17:45 / Venue: Geographisches Institut der Universität zu Köln, Otto-Fischer-Straße 4, Ü3

17.06.2019: Data Challenges, Poverty Dynamics and Economic Growth. Insights from Assets in Rural Africa.

by Prof. Dan Brockington
Recent economic growth in many African countries is widely welcomed, but it is not clear how inclusive that growth is, particularly of rural populations. In a general context of poor data, household consumption data appear to suggest that poverty rates have not declined much with growth, suggesting that growth is not inclusive. But this finding may depend on the measure of poverty used. We argue that existing measures of poverty in debates about the inclusivity of economic growth use indices of consumption, not assets, and are therefore incomplete. We present new data based on recent re-surveys of Tanzanian households first visited in the early 1990s. These demonstrate a marked increase in prosperity (as measured by assets) from high levels of poverty. We consider the implications of this research for further explorations of the relationship of economic growth and agricultural policy in rural areas, and for attempts to cope with Africa’s ‘statistical tragedy’.
Time: 16:15 – 17:45 / Venue: University of Cologne, Department of Geography, Südbau, Ü3, Otto-Fischer-Str. 4, 50674 Cologne

27.05.2019: !CANCELED! Beyond Geography's comparative impulse? On methods and modes of staging comparison in geography

Due to unforeseen circumstances, this lecture is canceled.

by Prof. James D. Sidaway
Geography rests on an impulse to compare on terms with long and diverse histories. New rationalities of comparison were finessed in the development of sciences and humanities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in the context of empire. These were internalized by the developing discipline. Taking its points of departure from existing traditions of comparison in geography, this paper also draws insight from comparative literature and debates in area studies, musicology and comparative religion, arguing both for breadth and solicitude in seeking congruities and studying geographies of coproduction above staging comparison.
Time: 16:15 – 17:45 / Venue: Geographisches Institut der Universität zu Köln, Otto-Fischer-Straße 4, Ü3

06.05.2019: Afrotopia, African Renaissance, Afropolitanismus and Afrofuturismus: Four concepts of African Futures

by Dr. Lena Kroeker
Currently, various visions of African Futures circulate. They follow distinctive variations in their concepts and this presentation aims at shedding light on four of these concepts. I would like to start with a linear developmental model intending to produce a ‘western-style’ modernity. Secondly, I present the concept of the ‘African renaissance’, which circulated in South Africa at the turn of the century and re-emerged more recently under the title of ‘Afrotopia’. Thirdly, I distance ‘Afrotopia’ from ‘Afropolitanism’ – a concept proposing an ‘African-style’ modernity. Last, ‘Afrofuturism’ has become a term in science fiction literature and digital visual arts. Authors and artists from the black diaspora envision a black writing of history and future embracing African artists, who partly try to free themselves from the external label of Afrofuturism. With this presentation I aim at an analytical clarification of the four concepts despite the fact that they coexist in everyday life in Africa.
Time: 16:15 – 17:45 / Venue: Geographisches Institut der Universität zu Köln, Otto-Fischer-Straße 4, Ü3


04.02.2019 Deforestation and future of rural Zambia

by Dr. Enock Sakala
Zambia is regarded as one of the highly forested country and with a forest cover of about 60% of the total land area estimated at 64 million hectares most of which is administered by rural populations. And the forests in Zambia are very important as they support rural communities which are the low-income areas. However, today the forests in the rural Zambia have been made vulnerable by man and the rate at which forest cover is being lost has increasingly become high and this is resulting into complete loss of biodiversity embodied in the Zambian forests. Deforestation is considered one of the priority environmental problems in rural Zambia and it is as a result of rural poverty, non-adherence to sustainable agricultural practices and massive charcoal production. And this deforestation is becoming a hindrance to socio-economic development of rural Zambia. And the critical question seeking urgent redress is why forests in Zambia are being heavily destroyed and where is the future of rural Zambia.
Time: 16:15 - 17:45 / Venue: Geozentrum Bonn, Meckenheimer Allee 176, Ü 8

14.01.2019 Resource frontiers, or: the painful birth of territory in the margins of the state

by Prof. Benedikt Korf
Abstract: Resource frontiers witness rapid, dramatic, violent alterations in their landscape – enclosure, dispossession, resettlement, exclusion, evictions, displacements. The landscape is radically altered – not only in terms of property relations but also in its materiality: tropical rainforests are transformed into palm oil plantation, jungle into irrigation schemes, rangeland into land plots. Frontiers are sites at the margins of the state where the birth of territory is in the making – and this birth is often painful. In this talk, I explore a variety of resource frontiers in Africa and Asia, first, to understand empirically the territorial form of violence and dis/order in resource frontiers across the world, and, second, to theorize the frontier – using the conceptual resources of Carl Schmitt, Achille Mbembe, Peter Sloterdijk and Ana Tsing - as the painful birth of territory in the often brutal, painful, struggles over land in the margins of postcolonial states.
Time: 16:15 - 17:45 / Venue: Geographisches Institut Bonn, Meckenheimer Allee 166, Alfred-Phillipson Hörsaal

17.12.2018 Large-scale land acquisitions in the Global South. A global phenomenon with local-level repercussions

by J-Prof. Kerstin Nolte
The demand for agricultural land has increased over the last decade. This is reflected in the rise in large-scale land acquisitions by foreign and domestic investors, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. This presentation will focus on the processes through which land is being acquired and consultations drawing on field research in Zambia, Kenya and Mali. Further, I will discuss the impacts of large-scale land acquisitions on target regions. I focus on the potential employment creation from large-scale farms as well as the livelihood implications that arise from large-scale farms in Zambia.
Time: 16:15 - 17:45 / Venue: Geozentrum Bonn, Meckenheimer Allee 176, Ü 8

05.11.2018 Hope and uncertainty in African migration: a case study of involuntary return to Ghana

by Dr. Nauja Kleist
Contemporary migration is characterized by a mobility paradox. The increased reach and accessibility of communication, media and transport technologies mean that people in many parts of the world are exposed to visions of the good life and future elsewhere while restrictive mobility regimes makes access to the global circuits of legal mobility increasingly difficult. How do migrants respond to this situation and imagine their mobility, life and future? In this lecture, I explore hope as an analytical framework for studies of migration in the light of this mobility paradox, examined through a case study of involuntary return to Ghana. Based on fieldwork among Ghanaian deportees and other involuntary return migrants, I explore trajectories of social and spatial (im)mobility, how returnees relate to notions of the good life and future, and their temporal and spatial projections. Returning involuntarily often implies socio-economic problems, the at least temporary end to (some) transnational practices, and it is widely embedded in a sense of individualized failure, despite widespread local knowledge of the uncertainty related to high-risk migration. I suggest that this conundrum is an expression of the local persistence of international migration as a repository of hope for a better and livable future. By implication, involuntary return constitutes both a disruption of mobile livelihoods as well as the hopes underpinning them.
Time: 16:15 - 17:45 / Venue: Geozentrum Bonn, Meckenheimer Allee 176, Ü 8

15.10.2018 Gender terror? Gender nonsense? Gender trouble! Yes, please.

by Mara Mürlebach
Abstract: Since the ominous G-word has seeped into project applications, research evaluations and institutional guidelines, the need has grown to think about how "gender" can inform practical research. This seminar introduces the concept of gender and its reception in Geography. It argues that geographers have a lot to gain from thinking more carefully about the big "G" - be it with regard to research foci, design or methodologies. All genders and geographers welcome!
Time: 16:15 - 17:45 / Venue: Geozentrum Bonn, Meckenheimer Allee 176, Ü 8


09.07.2018 Contested Constructions of wildlife in Namibian conservation practices - a conceptual framework

by Prof. Schlottmann & Prof. Graefe
Abstract: Wildlife management practices in designated areas underlie diverging rules and regulations, do involve different sets of actors and, most importantly, serve different ideas of nature, wildlife, and its conservation. In order to understand contexts of a struggle for sustainable wildlife conservation, as in the case of Namibia’s Northwestern region, for instance, the interplay of imaginations, discourses, and materialities must be taken into account. However, despite all theoretical trends towards such a “more-than-human” approach (Lorimer 2015), the concepts at play are clearly anthropocentric in that they assign human actors the dominant role for defining, allocating, conserving, or utilizing nature and its resources. We hence suggest to “follow the dualism” and to accept epistemological anthropocentrism as research perspective. The presentation will sketch a conceptual framework for practice-oriented research, which recognizes both, the contingency of constructions of wildlife and its resistant materiality.
Time: 16:15 - 17:45 / Venue: Geozentrum, Bonn Meckenheimer Allee 176

25.06.2018 Global Futures? A Contemporary History of Futures Studies

by Prof. Seefried
Abstract: This presentation provides a historical overview of the field of 'futures studies' from the 1950s up to the present, focusing particularly on 'Western' futures studies. The paper argues that the futures field was reconceptualized around 1970, shifting its perspective from a West-East perspective towards a global one. It analyses the epistemic roots, the drivers and actors as well as the political and social contexts of this shift, showing that the futures field was not only influenced by the events of the 1960s and 1970s but itself contributed to cultural and political change by stimulating circulating notions on "One World" solidarity and global futures. Through their insistence on the interdependence of environment and development, ‘futurists’ then laid the basis for political conceptions of sustainable development.
Time: 16:15 - 17:45 / Venue: Geozentrum, Bonn Meckenheimer Allee 176

11.06.2018 ‘We agreed to move, but we did not do so freely’. Resettlement from the Great Limpopo Tranfrontier Park

by Prof. Spierenburg & Luuk van Kempen
Abstract: This presentation addresses the impacts of the establishment of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park on residents in the Mozambican part of the park. While the area originally was designed as a multiple-use area, both South African conservation authorities and the Peace Parks Foundation pushed for the adoption of the Kruger National Park model in the area directly adjacent to its border. As a result, 7000 residents in the newly established Parque Nacional do Limpopo were – and still are – threatened with eviction. Resettlement of the residents was presented as a development project by Mozambican authorities and South African promoters of the transfrontier park. This presentation addresses the conflicts over the resettlement process and (lack of) compensation, and the impacts on residents’ livelihoods.
Prior to the presentation, Luuk van Kempen (Radboud University Nijmegen) will offer a sneak preview of a new research project on the role of CSOs in land rights advocacy in Kenya. This project, which involves collaboration between the Radboud University Nijmegen, the African Studies Centre Leiden (the Netherlands) and Moi University (Kenya) started in December 2017.
Time: 16:15 - 17:45 / Venue: Dept. for Geography Cologne Otto-Fischer-Straße 4

28.05.2018 Participatory assessment of rural development and change. African experiences

by Prof. Dietz
Abstract: Between 2000 and 2015 I experimented with a bottom-up method of evaluating the long-term impact of 'development projects and programmes', and the assessments of local people about these (often external) interventions. It started in the Pokot area in Kenya, and continued in Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Benin as the 'PADev method'. Later it was adopted by others elsewhere. I will discuss the experiences with developing this method, and with the communications about its results. For preparations: please visit
Time: 16:15 - 17:45 / Venue: Geozentrum, Bonn Meckenheimer Allee 176

23.04.2018 Community based conservation at the cross-roads: social-ecological dynamics and economic change in Zambesi Region

by Prof. Bollig
Abstract: Community based conservation, organized in so-called conservancies, has been embedded in larger transboundary conservation activities recently. Conservancies have been active in the region since the late 1990s and currently, a number of them garner sizeable incomes. While game numbers are increasing other aspects of the ecology are rendered susceptible. De-agrarization is a pertinent aspect of socio-economic change and off-farm incomes, remittances but also social transfers are increasingly gaining in relevance. In my talk, I will shed a (first) light at pertinent social-ecological dynamics and economic change connected (and un-connected) to conservation. This talk is meant to give an introduction into recent transformations for those traveling to the region and designing the methodology in the near future. The talk is based on the analysis of numerous reports on the region and a one-week long fact-finding mission in February 2018.
Time: 16:15 - 17:45 / Venue: Dept. for Geography Cologne Otto-Fischer-Straße 4