Reminder: DARG Committee Elections

At this year’s AGM we will be voting for a new Chair of DARG and for up to three committee members to replace members of the current committee who are coming to the end of their terms of office. Anyone standing for Chair should be a Fellow of the RGS: non-RGS members may stand as committee members, but may not hold the post of Treasurer or Secretary.

Anyone interested in standing for these posts can get in touch with a member of the current committee to find out more about the roles involved. Nominations must be proposed and seconded by members of the Group and must receive the assent of the nominee before submission to the Secretary, Nina Laurie ( This year, we’re asking all people standing for committee/Chair to write a short statement (maximum 250 words) on what they would bring to the role – and we aim to circulate these to all members ahead of the AGM.

All nominations should be sent to Nina on/before 11th August.


CFP RGS IBG The Shifting Power of Indigeneity: exploring the (co)-production of both rural and urban spaces

The Shifting Power of Indigeneity: exploring the (co)-production of both rural and urban spaces

Call For Papers for RGS IBG annual conference 26-29 August 2014

Sponsored by the Developing Areas Research Group DARG

This session is interested in the multiple and shifting articulations of indigeneity in the contemporary period. It recognises the inherent tensions as well as conflicting understandings of indigeneity, which are articulated and claimed by multiple actors in different countries, histories, political economies and political ecologies.  International legislation often defines indigeneity as identity category bound to ancestral claims to land, relationships to nature and collective decision making. These definitions are often criticised by academics, activists, and indigenous peoples themselves for essentialising cultures, removing people’s agency and grouping together different peoples that are, in fact, living in very different circumstances. However, indigeneity is still being used and claimed by many groups as a political category to gain political recognition, power and rights. Both rural and urban groups, often those who feel marginalised and in the minority, rely on indigeneity as a key political category. This session will explore the multiple and contrasting ways in which indigeneity is being used by various socio-political actors, situated in the global South and North, to shift existing power relations and to (co)-produce rural and urban spaces. Using theories that explore the relationship of indigeneity to political power and wider political economies and ecologies, it is interested in analysing how indigeneity is being articulated in conflicts over land and natural resources, in processes of development, in times of rapid planetary urbanisation, and in moments of political unrest and/or change.

We invite papers that investigate the various ways that indigeneity is articulated and mobilised by multiple actors and the ways it is being responded to by states. We want to explore the spatial impact that this is having in the current political economic and ecological contexts. When addressing these aspects, papers should take into account the following questions: In what contexts and how is indigeneity gaining legitimacy and power? How are relations between ‘indigenous’ and ‘non-indigenous’ actors articulated in different spaces? What role does indigeneity play in the (co)-production of different rural and urban places?

Please send 300 word abstract to the session convenors, Jessica Hope and Philipp Horn by the 3rd of February 2014, including your name and contact details

For further information about the conference, please see

CFP RGS IBG 2014 Collaborative research for an increasingly mobile and ageing world

Collaborative research for an increasingly mobile and ageing world

CFP for RGS IBG annual conference 26-29 August 2014

Sponsored by the Developing Areas Research Group DARG

Tanja Bastia

University of Manchester

Migration has significant consequences for the family members ‘left behind’, not just children but also the elderly.  However, thus far the literature on the social consequences of migration for the ‘left behind’ has focused overwhelming on children.  In this session we propose to shift the focus towards the elderly.  What are the consequences of migration for the older generation?  What strategies do they employ to juggle their multiple responsibilities?  How are societies and communities reorganised to take into account the absence of the younger generation?  In addition, the migration literature has also overlooked the migration of older people.  How do older migrants experience work and life abroad?  What challenges and satisfactions do they encounter?

The panel seeks innovative studies that push the boundaries of current knowledge on ageing and migration.  In addition, it also welcomes studies carried out collaboratively with older people, organisations working with older people such as NGOs or service departments, including action research with a view of discussing alternative research formats that can feed into policy or service provision.

Please send 300 word abstract to by 24th January 2014, including your name and contact details.

For further information about the conference, please see

CFP RGS/ IBG Learning from Small Cities: New urban frontiers in the global south

Learning from Small Cities: New urban frontiers in the global south

Ayona Datta (University of Leeds)

Abdul Shaban (Tata Institute of Social Sciences)

For the last decade or so urban studies has been preoccupied in decentring its western bias and advocating a postcolonial lens in studying cities of the global south. Mega-cities such as Mumbai, Shanghai and Johannesburg are now ‘champions of urbanity’ (Banerjee-Guha 2013) in global urban studies.  Yet, around half of the ‘urban’ population in Africa, Asia and Latin America lives in small and medium cities with populations of less than 500,000 (Satthertwaite 2006). Seen as provincial, parochial, even communal and on the peripheries of urban studies, small and medium towns nevertheless are the new frontiers of urbanization of postcolonial states. They service urban consumers, act as national trade centres, support global manufacturing processes or serve as regional administrative nodes. In recent years, the focus of postcolonial states on cities as engines of neoliberal development and economic growth (Kennedy and Zerah 2008), has also spurred rapid transformation of small and medium towns into new urban utopias of eco-city, smart-city, satellite city and a number of other corporate sponsored city-making initiatives. They therefore face a “triple challenge” (Veron 2010, 2833) of the impacts of increased urbanization, development and under-development. While they are characterised by the absence of local democratic institutions, poor urban infrastructure and continued ‘elite capture’ (Kundu 2011) of land for development projects, a broad range of grassroots struggles in these places are also working to redefine rights and justice through active citizenships. The indifference in urban scholarship however to the ‘smallness’ of cities have institutionalised  existing inequalities between mega- and small cities, between urban regions and their urbanizing hinterlands, and between the centre and peripheries of urban studies itself.

In this session, we view small cities not as homogeneous, structurally and demographically defined entities, but rather as places with their specific social, cultural, political, historical contexts of ‘smallness’ that are produced through their particular relationships with neoliberalisation, globalization, urbanization and the postcolonial state. We invite papers that address but are not limited to the following questions:

  • What we can learn from small cities and how can this ‘learning’ decentre the practices of ‘doing’ urban studies?
  • What are the new frontiers of knowledge and action that are produced when we learn from small cities?
  • What are the politics of being and becoming ‘small’, and what does it mean to challenge the injustices of ‘smallness’ in these cities?
  • How do aspirations for ‘bigness’ in small cities produce new urban inequalities?
  • How are urbanization of mega-city regions and transformations in the political, cultural, social and economic life of small cities co-produced?


Banerjee-Guha, Swapna 2013. ‘Small Cities and Towns in Contemporary Urban Theory, Policy and Praxis’, in R.N. Sharma and R.S. Sandhu (eds), Small Cities and Towns in Global Era: Emerging Changes and Perspectives, 17-35. Jaipur: Rawat Publications.

Kennedy and Zerah, H. 2008. The Shift to City-Centric Growth Strategies: Perspectives from Hyderabad and Mumbai, Economic and Political Weekly, September 27, 110-117.

Kundu, A. 2011.  Politics and Economics of Urban Growth, Economic and Political Weekly, May 14, 10-12.

Satthertwaite, D. 2006. Outside the Large Cities; The demographic importance of small urban centres and large villages in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Human Settlements Working Paper Series Urban Change No. 3. IIED, London

Veron, R. 2010. Small Cities, Neoliberal Governance and Sustainable Development in the Global South: A Conceptual Framework and Research Agenda, Sustainabilities, 2, 2833-2848


CFP RGS/ IBG 2014 Entrepreneurship in peri-urban villages: Understanding empowerment and marginalization in the urbanizing global south

RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014

London: 26th to 29th August 2014

Call for papers


Entrepreneurship in peri-urban villages: Understanding empowerment and marginalization in the urbanizing global south

Organizer: Rohit Madan (Cardiff University)

In the global south urbanization is changing the nature of villages, and rural entrepreneurs play an important part in this. Entrepreneurial success requires good roads, labour, communications, technology, skills and (relatively) cheap land (Buciega et al 2009, Tacoli 2006), and these are readily available in the peri-urban fringe, where urbanization is most rapid. This is considered “modernization” and “progress” – a neo-liberal mindset within which the private entrepreneur is embedded.

Private entrepreneurship has been traditionally seen as vital in achieving poverty alleviation – there are several examples of this in studies from: China (Lin 2006, Ma 2002), Tanzania (Lanjouw et al 2001), Indonesia (Leinbach 2003), and India (Eapen 2001), amongst many others. Often government policies have tried to increase the proportion of non-cultivation employment in rural areas to achieve this (Rigg 2006). On the surface entrepreneurship suggests innovation, collaboration and partnerships between the state, civil society and private sector, however, de-regulation gives entrepreneurs increased access over human/natural resources. In the peri-urban fringe therefore the entrepreneur has greater capacity to affect both empowerment and marginalization of rural communities (Kay 2002, Xu and Tan 2002).

In this session we aim to theorize relationships between rural-entrepreneurship and urbanization, shifting the spotlight away from solely the “urban” or the “rural”, but also away from simplistic preconceptions that see urbanization within binary frameworks. We aim to converge strands addressing how entrepreneurship transforms individuals and the community, but also at national/global levels – on how both governance and everyday life are transformed.

We welcome papers connecting urbanization with rural entrepreneurship that deal with (but are not limited to) the following themes:

v  How environmental and social justice are linked with entrepreneurship in the global south?

v  How entrepreneurship shapes (and is shaped by) multi-level governance and policy?

v  How can we theorize the agrarian dimensions of entrepreneurship (i.e. food, labour, multifunctionality, etc.)?

v  How is entrepreneurship co-produced (through the nature/type of individual – institutional interactions)?

v  How can we theorize the relationships between learning/education and entrepreneurship?

v  How does entrepreneurship relate to rural-urban linkages and urbanization?

v  Typologies and wider discussions / debates around entrepreneurship?

Please email abstracts of 150 words (max) with full contact details by Friday, 31st January 2014 to Rohit Madan (

CFP RGS/ IBG 2014 Witchcraft, spiritual beliefs, and the co-production of development knowledges and practices in the Majority World.

Call for papers: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014:

London, 26th–29th August 2014

Witchcraft, spiritual beliefs, and the co-production of development knowledges and practices in the Majority World.

Convenor: Tom Smith, Department of Geography, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN

Sponsored by the Developing Areas Research Group (DARG)

Session Abstract:

Traditionally a domain of anthropological study, witchcraft, occult and spiritual practices in the Majority World have received considerably less attention from geographers. Yet the continued importance of these knowledges and practices in Africa and elsewhere prompts this session to call for discussion over their contemporary role in the co-production of development knowledges and practices.

Whilst there has been some influential work on the history of magic and occult thinking in early geographical/scientific thought (Livingstone 1990; Matless 1991), and the embodied practices of witchcraft in the Minority World (Rountree 2002), much less consideration has been offered from the realms of Development Geographies (broadly defined) to the intersections between witchcraft, occult practices, and spiritual beliefs with development in the Majority World. Yet these themes seem ripe for discussion, particularly concerning the nature of rationality, or rationalities, being applied to contemporary development agendas at a range of geographic scales. Whilst current thinking on local knowledges for development and local participation in development have done away with privileging knowledges and technologies from the Minority World, a focus on witchcraft and the occult, and its role in development practice, might ask more fundamental questions about the kinds of rationalities, moralities and ethics being applied to development agendas and goals. In Africa, witchcraft and magical practices have not receded under the variegated forms of development which have and continue to operate across a range of national contexts (Kohnert 1996; Luongo 2010). This should prompt us to consider: What role does witchcraft and spiritual belief play in contemporary forms of development practice and knowledge at a range of scales? How do such practices and beliefs intersect with the current participatory/local knowledges agenda? Do witchcraft and spiritual beliefs contribute to the co-production of development knowledges and imaginaries, both locally and nationally?

This session invites contributions which discuss how witchcraft, occult practices, and spiritual beliefs intersect with the geographies of development at a range of scales and contexts. This might include the relationship between such practices and environmental management, education, rural and urban livelihoods, healthcare and medicine, law, community organisation, among others, whilst broader theoretical, conceptual and methodological reflections are also encouraged. I would also like to invite those from a broad range of disciplinary backgrounds to participate.

Please email proposals (title, 250 word abstract) or questions to:

Deadline for abstracts: 3rd February 2014

Format of the session:

The presentation of 4-5 selected papers.


Kohnert, D. (1996) Magic and witchcraft: implications for democratisation and poverty-alleviating aid in Africa, World Development 24(8), 1347-1355.

Livingstone, D. N. (1990) Geography, tradition and the scientific revolution: an interpretive essay, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS: 15(3), 359-373.

Luongo, K. (2010) Polling places and “slow punctured provocation”: occult-driven cases in postcolonial Kenya’s High Courts, Journal of East African Studies 4(3), 577-591.

Matless, D. (1991) Nature, the modern and the mystic: tales from early twentieth century geography, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS: 16(3), 272-286.

Rountree, K. (2002) How magic works: New Zealand feminist witches’ theories of ritual action, Anthropology of consciousness 13(1), 42-59.