Soc02
New surplus populations in Africa: ruptures and continuities in rural transitions

Convenors:
Michela Marcatelli (Stellenbosch University)
Lerato Thakholi (Wageningen University and Research)
Stream:
Sociology
Location:
Chrystal McMillan, Seminar Room 5
Thursday 13 June, 17:55-19:40

Short abstract:

This panel aims to reflect on how new processes of rural dispossession and displacement are (re)producing surplus populations in Africa today. It will do so by interrogating the connections between these dynamics and land and green grabbing, environmental change, and capital accumulation.

Long abstract:

Contemporary land and green grabbing, both accelerated by global environmental challenges and capitalism's response to them, have brought about a new phase of dispossession and displacement in Africa. These dynamics are highly uneven and context-specific. In some places, they are better understood in connection with the colonial past, whereas in others they represent ruptures within broader processes of rural and environmental change. The consequences on the rural poor differ too, but there is evidence of relative surplus populations emerging, with serious effects on these people's access to land, natural resources, labour, and livelihoods - while the neoliberal socio-economic system often does not provide any alternatives. This panel aims to reflect on how the complementary processes of dispossession and displacement are unfolding across present-day Africa. We welcome both theoretical contributions that point out common logics underpinning these phenomena and rich empirical case studies that highlight local differences. We seek to bring together contributors from different disciplines and especially encourage scholars working in the fields of critical agrarian studies, political ecology, and sociology of development to submit their proposals. The panel intends to address the following questions, among others: • What are the connections between dispossession, displacement, environmental change, and capital accumulation in times of land and green grabbing? • Who is being made surplus, how, and to what? • How are dispossession and displacement affecting rural populations and their social reproduction? • What discourses are employed to justify these processes?