Appel à communication

Colloque annuel de l’Association of American Geographers 2017 Meeting, Boston, MA, April 5-9.

Session intitulée : “Critical geographies of lands and waters in the midst of global changes”.

Organisateurs : Julie TROTTIER (CNRS, UMR ART-Dev, Paul Valéry University) Olivia AUBRIOT (CNRS, Centre for Himalayan Studies), Sara FERNANDEZ (IRSTEA, UMR GESTE)

The paper session will bring together four to five presentations.
Please send paper titles, abstracts (250 words) to the session organizer Julie Trottier ( by Friday October 21th. Decisions will be made by Tuesday October 25th. Selected participants will be later required to send the Presenter Identification Number (PIN) associated to their paper and provided by the AAG website.
Authors need to submit paper abstract through the AAG website to obtain the PIN (deadline October 27th). Guidelines for preparing abstracts are available at:

Content and objectives:
Social interactions relating to land and water are currently being deeply reshaped by various factors such as climate change and climate change related policies, new irrigation technologies, environmental conservation programs, fast evolving national legislations concerning land and water, similarly fast evolving contexts of legal pluralism concerning land and water, and large scale agricultural investment projects. This session brings together papers to discuss the study of small-scale farmers involved in food production facing such global changes. We define “small scale farmers” as those actors rooted in their spatial context because delocalizing their production at a global scale is not a strategy they can or will contemplate. This session aims at enriching the literature on land and water tenure, on the formal and informal rules shaping access to them, and on the manner assemblages of power, politics and science are molding water and land governance. Focusing on farmers, this session questions the sociopolitical, as well as spatial and environmental dimensions of partially overlapping appropriations of land and water and their transformations.
Anthropologists have long engaged with land tenure, i.e. the social relations among humans governing their interactions with land. They have demonstrated land was not only about property and agricultural production, but was also embedded in a diversity of social hierarchies and practices (Le Roy 2011; Ferguson 2013). To extend such a framework of analysis, S. Hodgson (2016) recently coined the term “water tenure” – the social relations among humans, whether legally or customarily defined governing their interactions with water. Land and water have mostly been studied completely separately from each other. Only recently, scholars have engaged in the analysis of the interconnection between land and water tenure through the prism of critical political ecology as well as science and technology studies (Trottier 2015). Critical political ecology goes beyond the epistemology offered by the critique of capitalism (Forsyth 2002). It allows us to questions the political dimensions of land and water tenure. It aims at situating environmental claims better, by highlighting their political and social framings and their impacts on socionatures. Building on STS approaches, it questions already made categories such as State, market or local communities to promote alternative framings of environmental degradation and alternative knowledge production (Forsyth 2002). Indeed, STS provides concepts and methods to grasp the coproduction of the natural and the social order (Jasanoff 2004). It also allows us to explore civic epistemologies, i.e. the processes through which a society selects and deploys scientific claims (Jasanoff 2005).
The study of upheavals in land and water management tends to follow fashionable trends. The privatization of water utilities and the controversies surrounding large dams were the object of a prolific literature in the 1990s and 2000s. Since 2009, a rich literature emerges concerning large scale land appropriation (Chouquer 2012). Such topics deserve our interest, of course, but the massive attention they receive leads researchers to privilege what may sometimes prove to be an epiphenomenon. It leads researchers to neglect other mechanisms that are just as important.
Emerging scholarship studies land and water simultaneously, harnessing the approaches of critical political ecology that integrate science and technology studies (Trottier 2015). It expands our understanding beyond highly publicized phenomena such as land grabbing or water privatization. It empowers us to include less visible mechanisms such as contract farming, unintended effects of climate change and environmental policies, as well as significant power struggles around land or water management technologies (Fernandez 2014; Woodhouse 2012). It enables a multi-scalar analysis key to the understanding of the changes farmers are facing. Yet, numerous methodological questions arise, especially to grasp the role of space and place, the material and political dimensions of water flows, as well as the interactions of a multiplicity of discourses, institutions, and identities regarding both land and water.
For this paper session, we encourage diverse perspectives that expand methodological and conceptual insights to the transformation of land and water in the context of global changes. We invite presentations that consider different scales – local, regional as well as national or transnational – and bring insights from a diversity of case studies.
We are particularly interested in empirically grounded case studies including, but not restricted to:
•    The use of science and technology studies and critical political ecology to understand water and land, or both, within the political and spatial constructions they are embedded in.
•    Socio-spatial and political analysis of land and water uses in rural spaces in the context of local or international migrations, urbanization, or in “post-conflict” areas.
•    Analysis of the multi-scalar interactions between technical or technological options – such as the rehabilitation, abandonment or transformation of irrigation systems – and power struggles.
•    Methodological proposals to study the interconnection of land and water.
•    Etc.

Keywords: Critical Political Ecology; STS; water tenure; food production; land tenure; resource appropriation

Chouquer, G. 2012. Terres porteuses. Entre faim de terres et appétit d’espace. Errance. Actes Sud.
Ferguson, J. 2013. « How to Do Things with Land: A Distributive Perspective on Rural Livelihoods in Southern Africa ». Journal of Agrarian Change 13 (1): 166 74. doi:10.1111/j.1471-0366.2012.00363.x.
Fernandez, S. 2014. « Much Ado About Minimum Flows… Unpacking indicators to reveal water politics ». Geoforum 57: 258 71. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2013.04.017.
Forsyth, T. 2002. Critical Political Ecology: The Politics of Environmental Science. London ; New York: Routledge.
Hodgson, S. 2016. « Exploring the concept of water tenure ». Land and Water Discussion Paper 10. Rome, Italy: FAO.
Jasanoff, S. 2004. « The idiom of co-production ». In States of Knowledge: the co-production of science and social order, Routledge, 1:13.
Jasanoff, S. 2005. Designs on Nature: Science and Democracy in Europe and the United States. Princeton University Press.
Le Roy, E. 2011. La terre de l’autre. Une anthropologie des régimes d’appropriation foncière. Droit et société. L.G.D.J.
Trottier, J. 2015. « Les trajectoires de l’eau et de la terre dans la construction des territoires ». L’Espace géographique Tome 45 (2): 97 102.
Woodhouse, P. 2012. « Foreign agricultural land acquisition and the visibility of water resource impacts in Sub-Saharan Africa ». Water Alternatives 5 (2): 208.

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