RUS 3 Presentations

Session Title: Capitalism, Environmental Degradation and Dispossession in Rural Areas

Organizers: Satenia Zimmermann/Jennifer Jarman

Chair: Pallavi Das

Research Cluster Affiliation: Rural Sociology

Date: Tuesday, June 1st

Time: 11:00 am to 12:00 pm (MT) 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm  (ET)

Location: Virtual 1

Session Description:

Rural areas are an important space for capital accumulation all over the world. Due to
capitalist expansion and privatization, the poor in these areas are increasingly subsisting in degraded environments and are also losing access to many of these spaces. The right to access natural resources, both qualitatively and quantitatively, and have control over them is particularly critical for the poor, small producers. In this session, papers from different parts of the world examine the challenges that small producers face and also investigate how small producers react to the unfolding crisis.

Abstracts in order of presentation:

Title: Climate Change Experience, Vulnerability, and Adaption: Struggles and Agency in Rural Saskatchewan

Author: Mbuli Shei Clodine

Climate change is among the most-cited global threats to environmental and social sustainability. The frequency of climate events in rural Saskatchewan—a region with one of the world’s most variable climates—has increased people’s vulnerability while also informing their adaptive capacity. Although rural people are considerably adapted to climate change in this context, the frequency and severity of projected future risks from drought, wildfire, and flooding will test individual and community responses and resilience and will put pressure on both public and private support systems. This research is based on an in-depth qualitative case study with approximately 30 residents of Maple Creek and the surrounding area. The study identifies and assesses the extent of vulnerability and climate change experience, drivers of past adaptation, and needs for future adaptation. Coping with future challenges requires a rigorous application of expertise informed by both research and lived experience. Lessons from community-based research can help inform more inclusive climate adaptation policies, which are based on the experiences and struggles in these rural communities already facing multiple climate hazards.

Title: ‘Double Dispossession” of Small-Scale Producers: The Case of Fishers in Chilika Lagoon, India

Author: Pallavi Das

This paper argues that small-scale producers who depend directly on nature for their subsistence such as fishers are the ones that suffer significantly due to the coercive curtailment of their right to access natural resources. They are impacted when natural resources such as fishing grounds are degraded and/or depleted, thanks to the mechanisms of the competitive market economy. Partly utilizing historical evidence as well as field-interviews, the paper illustrates the fishers’ loss of rights or dispossession historically by briefly examining a fishing community in Chilika lagoon in India. In doing so, the concept of ‘double dispossession’ is introduced that expands Marx’s concept of primitive accumulation as well as Harvey’s accumulation of dispossession in rural ecological spaces. The political response of the small-scale fishers to the ongoing double dispossession they experience is also discussed.

Title: Violence and Land Dispossession in the Honduras

Author: Jasmin Hristov

Latin America is the world’s most dangerous region for environmental and land-rights defenders. More than 60 percent of defender deaths take place here even though the region represents just over eight percent of the world’s population. According to Global Witness, Honduras is the deadliest country for land activists. Here, rural areas have become sources of forced out-migration as small-scale agricultural producers, peasant cooperatives, and indigenous and Afro-descendant communities with collective territorial rights, are uprooted from the land through a combination of economic and violent coercive mechanisms to make way for agribusiness, mining, tourism, and infrastructure megaprojects. This paper focuses on agrarian violence by state and non-state actors against: (a) communities engaged in collective action to oppose the appropriation or contamination of their land by corporate projects; (b) groups of formerly displaced victims carrying out land recovery actions; and (c) non-peasant individuals who work to support the struggles of peasant movements (e.g. lawyers, journalists). The paper demonstrates that violence has enabled processes of resource appropriation and rural proletarianization (or de-peasantization), through land dispossession and repression of land movements in the neoliberal era, by focusing on examples from the palm oil, mining, tourism and energy sectors.