RGS-IBG Annual Conference

RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2023, London 30 August – 1 September

Development Geographies Research Group – List of Sponsored Sessions

We are proud to sponsor the following session at the 2023 RGS-IBG Annual International Conference:

The Invisible Heart of the Invisible Hand? Impact Investing for Sustainable Development

Organized by:

W. Nathan Green – Department of Geography, National University of Singapore (geowng@nus.edu.sg)

Emma Mawdsley – Department of Geography, University of Cambridge (eem10@cam.ac.uk)


Impact investing has been hailed as “one of the most potent tools the world has at its disposal” to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 (GIIN 2022, 7). Comprised of a network of asset managers, development finance institutions, and philanthropic foundations, among others, impact investors attempt to anchor social and environmental problems to market logics, promising that the “invisible heart” of the market will guide its invisible hand (Rosenman, 2019). Yet, geographers and others are raising serious criticisms of impact investing, arguing that it can exacerbate injustice, inequality, and environmental degradation, while deepening extractive and debt-fuelled financing models of development (Alami and Guermond 2022; Dal Maso et al. 2022; Green 2022; Kish and Fairbairn 2018; Langley 2020; Mitchell and Sparke 2016; Rosenman 2019; Stolz and Lai 2019; Watts and Scales 2020). Given that the market for impact investing crested US$1 trillion in 2022, it may represent a historic shift in what geographers call d/Development—the dialectic between the interventionist, international Development sector and the immanent structures of contemporary capitalism (Mawdsley and Taggart 2022).

This session aims to highlight cutting-edge empirical and theoretical work in geography about impact investment. Empirically, we are interested in papers that, among other goals, categorize the diverse forms of impact investment, map out flows of finance capital through impact investment markets, and analyze new public-private partnerships for impact investing. Theoretically, papers might explore impact investment in terms of its biopolitical effects, its position within genealogies of neoliberalism, its relation to colonial legacies and ongoing racial inequities, or its role in long-durée cycles of capital accumulation. Finally, we welcome papers that focus on impact investment from various geographic and sectoral perspectives.


Alami, Ilias, and Vincent Guermond. 2022. “The Color of Money at the Financial Frontier.” Review of International Political Economy 0 (0): 1–25.

Dal Maso, Giulia, Aneil Tripathy, and Marc Brightman. 2022. “A Moral Turn in Finance?: Labeling, Purpose, and the Morality of Markets.” Focaal 2022 (93): 1–17.

GIIN. 2022. “GIINsight: Sizing the Impact Investing Market 2022.” New York: Global Impact Investing Network.

Green, W. Nathan. 2022. “Duplicitous Debtscapes: Unveiling Social Impact Investment for Microfinance.” Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, November.

Kish, Zenia, and Madeleine Fairbairn. 2018. “Investing for Profit, Investing for Impact: Moral Performances in Agricultural Investment Projects.” Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 50 (3): 569–88.

Langley, Paul. 2020. “Impact Investors: The Ethical Financialization of Development, Society and Nature.” In The Routledge Handbook of Financial Geography, edited by Janelle Knox-Hayes and Dariusz Wójcik, 328–51. New York: Routledge.

Mawdsley, Emma, and Jack Taggart. 2022. “Rethinking d/Development.” Progress in Human Geography 46 (1): 3–20.

Mitchell, Katharyne, and Matthew Sparke. 2016. “The New Washington Consensus: Millennial Philanthropy and the Making of Global Market Subjects.” Antipode 48 (3): 724–49.

Rosenman, Emily. 2019. “The Geographies of Social Finance: Poverty Regulation through the ‘Invisible Heart’ of Markets.” Progress in Human Geography 43 (1): 141–62.

Stolz, Dennis, and Karen P.Y. Lai. 2019. “Impact Investing: Social Enterprise and Global Development.” In Routledge International Handbook of Financialization, edited by Philip Mader, Daniel Mertens, and Natascha van der Zwan, 288–300. London and New York: Routledge. Watts, Natasha, and Ivan R. Scales. 2020. “Social Impact Investing, Agriculture, and the Financialisation of Development: Insights from Sub-Saharan Africa.” World Development 130 (June): 104918.

Thinking across development finance and the financialization of urban development: green infrastructure finance and institutional transformations in Southern cities

Session convenors: Erandi Barroso (University of Zurich); Fritz-Julius Grafe (University of Zurich); Hanna Hilbrandt (University of Zurich)


Long primarily focused on cities in Europe and Northern America, the urban geographical debate on the financialization of  infrastructure and housing has finally expanded to include cities in the so-called global South (Fernandez & Aalbers, 2020, Heeg et al., 2020). Simultaneously, research in development geography has highlighted that international financial institutions, philanthropists, and development agencies’ financialization agendas (Garbor, 2012; Mawdsley, 2016, 2018; Goldman, 2005) increasingly focus on cities’ “sustainable” urban development (Grubbauer & Hilbrandt, 2020). Following this “pivot toward Wall Street” (Alami et al., 2021, 1295), constellations of development practitioners, city-focused philanthropists, climate finance initiatives, and municipal actors have worked to develop infrastructures that are “green”, “bankable”, and “market ready” to allow for climate-inflected investment at the municipal scale (Bigger & Webber, 2021; Long & Rice, 2019). What has been less acknowledged are the juridico-institutional transformations of the local state necessary to realize “green” investment, the role of Southern municipalities in shaping, formatting and implementing financialization, as well as the transformations of development institutions (long predominantly acting at the national level) necessary to engage actors at the urban scale.

This session aims to bring scholars working on development finance, climate finance and the financialization of urban development into conversation. In particular, it seeks to shed light on the nexus of development initiatives’ urban agendas, shifts in municipal governance, juridico-institutional transformation of the local (Southern) state, and resulting urban (socio-material) development. We welcome papers that present empirical or theoretical reflections on the following questions or related themes:

  • Institutional transformations: What institutional barriers are development organizations targeting to facilitate the financialization of urban infrastructures in cities of the global South? What juridico-institutional changes are actually taking place to promote (climate) financial investment at the local level? What conflicts emerge with institutions at other scales?
  • Development and municipal agendas: How are the urban agendas of multilateral banks,  philanthropies, and development agencies integrated into the strategies of local governments? How are they adapted or resisted? 
  • Emerging geographies: How do the urban climate agendas and engagements of multilateral banks and development corporations vary across cities or regions? How do the specific conditions of municipalities in different contexts shape the ways in which municipal actors engage with development finance?
  • Socio-material change: Which urban infrastructures, landscapes, or services do contemporary development finance agendas produce or exclude? Why do infrastructure projects succeed or (often) fail? What are their effects on local urban communities? 


Alami, I., Dixon, A. D., & Mawdsley, E. (2021) State Capitalism and the New Global D/development Regime. Antipode, 53(5), 1294-1318. 

Gabor, D (2021) The Wall Street Consensus. Development and Change. 52: 429-459.

Grubbauer, M and Hilbrandt, H (2020) Städte des Globalen Südens im Fokus von Klima-und Entwicklungsfinanz: Reregulierung, Disziplinierung und Depolitisierung. sub\urban. zeitschrift für kritische stadtforschung 8: 137-162.

Heeg, S, Ibarra García, MV and Salinas Arreortua, LA (2020) Financialization of Housing in Mexico: The Case of Cuautitlan Izcalli and Huehuetoca in the Metropolitan Region of Mexico City. Housing Policy Debate 30: 512-532

Fernandez, R. & Aalbers, M. (2020) Housing Financialization in the Global South: In Search of a Comparative Framework, Housing Policy Debate, 30:4, 680-701.

Goldman, M. (2005) Imperial nature: The World Bank and struggles for social justice in the age of globalization. Yale University Press.

Long, J. and Rice, J.L. (2019) From sustainable urbanism to climate urbanism, Urban Studies, 56(5), pp. 992–1008.

Mawdsley, E. (2016) Development geography II: Financialization. Progress in Human Geography, I-II, 1–11. 

Mawdsley, E. (2018) ‘From billions to trillions’: Financing the SDGs in a world ‘beyond aid’. Dialogues in Human Geography, 8(2), 191-195. 

Webber, S., Leitner, H., & Sheppard, E. (2020) Wheeling Out Urban Resilience: Philanthrocapitalism, Marketization, and Local Practice. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 1-21.

Bigger, P. & Webber, S. (2021) Green Structural Adjustment in the World Bank’s Resilient City. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 111: 36-51.

The affective economies of private renting in the Majority World  


Adriana Mihaela Soaita, University of Bucharest/Glasgow, AdrianaMihaela.Soaita@glasgow.ac.uk 

Sohail Ahmad, University of York, sohail.ahmad@york.ac.uk  


The interest in the private renting sector as a mechanism generator of new inequalities has been dominated by Anglo-Saxon accounts. In these countries, given their better institutionalised regulatory/welfare/tenant-activist regimes, much of the focus has fallen on economic and policy studies to propose ways to address precarity. But what about the Majority World? 

For instance, in Ghana, landlords’ requirements for a two-to-five years advanced rent has persisted for decades (Arku et al. 2012). Jumping continents to India, insecure property rights tie both tenants and landlords into risky informal arrangements (Naik 2015). Closer to the Minority World but in many ways subaltern, criminal landlords in the Czech Republic exploit the Roma poorest tenants in illicit benefit economies (Kupka et al 2021).  

Far from dismissing the plight of private tenants in the over-studied ‘Minority World’ (Gustafsson et al. 2019; Soaita et al. 2020), practices as exemplified above stem from and construct completely different and far more precarious political and ‘affective regimes’ (Anderson 2014) of home (un)making in a private tenancy.  

The economies and politics of private renting across the (Majority or Minority) world are assembled through a multiplicity of social relations, materialities, cultural norms, regulatory and ideological landscapes which form diverse regimes of affects, power, risks and trust, flowing through any and every tenant-landlord relationship, often simultaneously making and unmaking ‘home’ be it materially or socially, in the real or the imaginary. In Geography, assemblage-thinking (Baker and McGuirk 2017) – as a method, orientation or a fully-fledged theoretical framework – has been particularly well suited to attend to a world flooded by multiplicities, always in flux.  

Hence, this session welcomes discussions inspired by assemblage-thinking as a way of problematising the ways in which the affective regimes of renting are performed across many actors (tenants, landlords, their families, employers, communities, authorities) and materialities (money, houses, infrastructure).  


Anderson, B. 2014. Encountering Affect Capacities, Apparatuses, Conditions. Farnham. 

Arku, G., I. Luginaah, and P. Mkandawire. 2012. “You Either Pay More Advance Rent or You Move Out”: Landlords/Ladies’ and Tenants’ Dilemmas in the Low-income Housing Market in Accra, Ghana. Urban Studies 49 (14):3177-3193. 

Baker, T., and P. McGuirk. 2017. Assemblage Thinking as Methodology: Commitments and Practices for Critical Policy Research. Territory, Politics, Governance 5 (4):425-442. 

Gustafsson, J., E. Hellström, Å. Richard, and S. Springfeldt. 2019. The right to stay put: resistance and organizing in the wake of changing housing policies in Sweden. Radical Housing Journal 1 (2):191-200. 

Kupka, P., V. Walach, and A. Brendzová. 2021. The poverty business: landlords, illicit practices and reproduction of disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Czechia. Trends in Organized Crime 24 (2):227-245. 

Naik, M. 2015. Informal Rental Housing Typologies and Experiences of Low-income Migrant Renters in Gurgaon, India. Environment and Urbanization Asia 6 (2):154-175. 

Soaita, A. M., M. Munro, and K. McKee. 2020. Private renters’ housing experiences in lightly regulated markets: a review of qualitative research. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, CaCHE. 

Cattle in the Community Forest: Documentary Film and Q&A

Session convenor details: James Robinson – PhD Student – University of Edinburgh and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh – j.s.robinson@ed.ac.uk


Join us for a documentary film screening (30 min) about an illegal grazing conflict in the community managed forests of southern Tanzania. The screening will be followed by a live Q&A session with the researcher, filmmaker and NGO representatives.

Human displacement is a troubling characteristic of many conservation interventions (Agrawal & Redford, 2009) and has wide-ranging social and environmental consequences (Cazabat, 2018). Cattle were a rare sight in Tanzania’s Kilwa District until 2006 when the state government forcibly relocated thousands of pastoralists and their livestock from an area now part of Ruaha National Park, over six hundred miles away. Officials claimed the evictions were necessary to protect the Ihefu Wetland – an important wildlife refuge and water catchment (Walsh, 2008). One consequence linked to this displacement is the rise of grazing conflicts in Kilwa’s community managed village forest reserves. Community members complain bitterly about illegal grazing, which they claim negatively impacts wildlife and scarce water resources. Attempts to prevent forest incursions risk escalating into physical violence. Through interviews with pastoralists, farmers, forest managers and government officials, this documentary explores the causes and consequences of the conflict.

While there are large bodies of literature addressing topics of pastoralism and protected area conflict (Yilmaz et al., 2019), herder-farmer conflict in East Africa (Benjaminsen et al., 2009), environmental degradation narratives surrounding pastoralist groups (Brockington, 2001) and the ecological impacts of forest grazing (Mtimbanjayo & Sangeda, 2018), very few studies have investigated these issues in the context of community managed reserves. This project seeks to address this gap.

“Cattle in the Community Forest” was produced as part of a PhD project by James Robinson (University of Edinburgh and RBGE) in collaboration with Tanzanian filmmaker Kassim Mustafa. Documentary film was chosen as a research method to engage with participants, share findings accessibly and to elicit audience feedback.

Agrawal, A., & Redford, K. (2009). Conservation and displacement: An overview. Conservation and Society, 7(1), 1–10.
Benjaminsen, T. A., Maganga, F. P., & Abdallah, J. M. (2009). The Kilosa Killings: Political Ecology of a Farmer-Herder Conflict in Tanzania. Development and Change, 40(3), 423–445.
Brockington, D. (2001). Communal Property and Degradation Narratives: Debating the Sukuma immigration into Rukwa Region, Tanzania. Cah Afr, 20, 1–22.
Cazabat, C. (2018). The Ripple Effect: Multidimensional Impacts of Internal Displacement (Issue October).
Köbel, M., Listopad, C. M. C. S., Príncipe, A., Nunes, A., & Branquinho, C. (2021). Temporary grazing exclusion as a passive restoration strategy in a dryland woodland: Effects over time on tree regeneration and on the shrub community. Forest Ecology and Management, 483(November 2020).
Mtimbanjayo, J. R., & Sangeda, A. Z. (2018). Ecological Effects of Cattle Grazing on Miombo Tree Species Regeneration and Diversity in Central-Eastern Tanzania. J Environ Res, 2(1), 3.
Walsh, M. (2008). Pastoralism and policy processes in Tanzania: Mbarali Case Study.
Yilmaz, E., Gogib, L., Urivelarrea, P., & Demirbas Çağlayan, S. (2019). Mobile pastoralism and protected areas: Conflict, collaboration and connectivity. PARKS, 25(25.1), 7–24.

The material geographies and political ecologies of infrastructure-led development


Elia Apostolopoulou, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, University of Cambridge

Han Cheng, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

Jonathan Silver, Urban Institute, University of Sheffield

Alan Wiig, Urban Planning and Community Development, University of Massachusetts Boston


The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), announced in 2013 by the Chinese President Xi Jinping is the single largest infrastructure project since the Marshall Plan. But China is by no means the only actor involved in the contemporary reworking of the global economy through infrastructure. From regional development banks and private equity firms, through to emerging plans by the US and EU and other trading blocs, to national planning authorities and logistical companies we are witnessing a new age of global infrastructure[i] [ii]. These major investments are transforming built environments at speed: from railways, airports, ports, industrial parks, optical fiber networks, and special economic zones (SEZs), to smart cities, greenfield development, speculative real estate and commercial projects[iii]. There are hopes that these investments may create essential life-supporting infrastructures and services, contributing to poverty reduction and sustainability initiatives. However, place-based communities across the globe are increasingly contesting the loss of livelihoods, life-worlds and housing due to the intensification of land grabbing, displacement, and dispossession processes, causing concerns that the  new era of global infrastructure and its socio-spatial and socio-environmental transformations unevenly and inequitably transforms geographies across multiple scales from the urban to rural and beyond[iv].

Emerging grounded research has offered important insights that point to the unequal geographies of global infrastructure projects and the way places, natures and communities are profoundly affected. This includes empirical reflections on: land speculation and the uneven and gendered vulnerabilities for marginalized groups (e.g. women, migrant laborers) living and working in places where global infrastructure projects are materialised[v]; the exclusion of vulnerable populations from mitigation programmes for infrastructure construction; the processes of accumulation, dispossession, and exploitation related to the privatization of strategic infrastructure[vi];the intensification of labour precarity, worsening of working conditions, and violation of workers’ rights; the creation of logistical spaces[vii], infrastructural hubs, industrial zones, manufacturing areas and commercial projects that alter both the local political situation and the geographies of everyday lives by, for instance, turning cities into industrial enclaves and transit corridors. Despite the importance of these analyses for unraveling emerging inequalities,critical geographical approaches focused on a comprehensive analysis of the links between global infrastructure transformation and inequality, including how the latter is differentiated along lines of class, gender[viii] and race[ix], and an exploration of how different injustices are interconnected, require further debate and development. Further, a critical examination of global infrastructure’s trans-continental impact itself pushes critical scholars to think across and between these emergent geographies.

In this session, we invite interventions that offer empirical, real-world analyses of the effects of infrastructure-led development on places, politics and livelihoods following critical geographical approaches and drawing on grounded case studies from any location. Potential contributions may focus on, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Theorizations of the ways global infrastructure-driven transformation reconfigures patterns of inequality that build on and advance debates in critical human and urban geography.
  • Theoretical and empirical investigation of the links between different forms of inequality (social, economic, environmental, spatial).
  • Analysis of the (uneven) ways global infrastructure-driven transformation impacts on places, politics, socionatures and urban livelihoods.
  • Postcolonial, feminist, Indigenous and antiracist approaches to analyses of global infrastructure-driven transformation.
  • How already occurring policies of gentrification, urban regeneration, and city beautification interact with global infrastructure projects.
  • The material impacts of global infrastructure projects on socio-natural metabolisms and the geographies of everyday life.
  • How local contestation, forms of inhabitation  and social conflicts are co-producing new contested urbanisms on the ground and how people’s place-based struggles influence the outcomes of global infrastructure projects.
  • Methodologies of depicting socio-spatial transformation (e.g., countermapping, storytelling, performance and arts, visualization techniques) and its effects on places, livelihoods and the geographies of everyday life.
  • Countermapping practices, community and grassroots activism.
  • How the BRI articulates with urban/rural development, contested landscapes, and animal geographies in domestic China, especially the borderland regions.
  • Comparative methodologies, including relational analysis and counter topographies, from South, North and beyond.


[i] Dodson, J. (2017). The global infrastructure turn and urban practice. Urban policy and research, 35(1), 87-92.

[ii] Schindler, S., & Kanai, J. M. (2021). Getting the territory right: Infrastructure-led development and the re-emergence of spatial planning strategies. Regional Studies, 55(1), 40-51.

[iii] Wiig, A., & Silver, J. (2019). Turbulent presents, precarious futures: Urbanization and the deployment of global infrastructure. Regional Studies53(6), 912-923.

[iv] Apostolopoulou, E. (2021). Tracing the links between infrastructure‐led development, urban transformation, and inequality in China’s belt and road initiative. Antipode53(3), 831-858.

[v]Murton, G., Lord, A. (2020) Trans-Himalayan power corridors: Infrastructural politics and China’s belt and road initiative in Nepal. Political Geography 77, 102100; Beazley, R., Lassoie, J. P. (2017) Himalayan mobilities: An exploration of the impact of expanding rural road networks on social and ecological systems in the Nepalese Himalaya. Springer, New York.

[vi]Neilson, B. (2019) Precarious in Piraeus: on the making of labour insecurity in a port concession. Globalizations 16, 559-574.

[vii]Gambino, E. (2019) The Georgian logistics revolution: questioning seamlessness across the New Silk Road. Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation 13(1), 190-206.

[viii] Truelove, Y., & Ruszczyk, H. A. (2022). Bodies as urban infrastructure: Gender, intimate infrastructures and slow infrastructural violence. Political geography92, 102492.

[ix] Salamanca, O. J., & Silver, J. (2022). In the Excess of Splintering Urbanism: The Racialized Political Economy of Infrastructure. Journal of Urban Technology29(1), 117-125.

Emancipatory Possibilities of Infrastructure

Organisers: Dr Jessica Hope, St Andrews (jch31@st-andrews.ac.uk) and Prof Murat Arsel, Erasmus University Rotterdam


Infrastructure remains one of geography’s most exciting debates, providing an entry
point to understanding the making of social worlds (for example with a focus on
citizenship (Lemanski, 2020), politics (Amin, 2014), cities (McFarlane & Rutherford,
2008; Silver, 2015; Apostolopoulou, 2021) and development (Arsel et al. 2021). More
recently these debates have been extended to question how infrastructure remakes
socio-environmental worlds, through political ecology (Enns & Bersaglio, 2020;
Hope, 2023, 2022) and geographies of the environment (Hope & Arsel, 2023; Barua,
2021). As well as revealing the ways that infrastructure co-constitutes power, norms
and knowledges, researchers have drawn our attention to moments where
infrastructure sparks experimentation (Alderman and Goodwin, 2022) and offers
possibilities for emancipation and transformation (Graham & Marvin, 2002; Enns &
Bersaglio, 2020; Hope, 2023; Werner, 2023). In this time of climate change, this
dynamic of infrastructure offers us a moment of possibility, as one route to redesigning
(Escobar, 2018), re-making, and re-organising our worlds.
In this session, we invite papers that focus critical thinking on advancing our
understanding of emancipatory infrastructures, setting out the theoretical
frameworks, methods and partnerships needed to identify, strengthen and build the
infrastructures needed for transformation in response to climate change.
We welcome papers that:

  • Offer clear empirical analysis of emancipatory infrastructures.
  • Set out new theoretical frameworks for developing emancipatory
  • Propose methods & research approaches.
  • Set out partnerships, ways of working and routes to transformation.

Decolonising Decarbonisation

Organisers: Dr Anna Laing, University of Sussex (A.F.Laing@sussex.ac.uk) and Dr Katharina Richter, University of Bristol (k.richter@bristol.ac.uk)


This paper session explores a decolonised climate justice framing of the Global North’s decarbonisation strategy. It focuses on the impacts of low-carbon energy and critical raw materials on places and peoples in the Global South and subalternised populations and territories in the Global North, as well as the coloniality of climate finance, green policy and carbon offsets.

The net zero transition to low-carbon economies in the Global North is driving “a global race” for new forms of clean energy, subsequently increasing the extraction of rare earth elements particularly in Latin America and Africa (Breton, 2022; Singh, 2023). European Commission President von der Leyen (2022) recently acknowledged that critical raw materials “will soon be more important than oil and gas”, given their strategic economic importance. Geographers and others, however, have challenged green hydrogen or lithium extraction projects given the perpetuation of historical asymmetries and colonial relations of extraction (Cuenca, 2021; Hickel et al., 2022; Mejia-Muñoz and Babidge, 2023). The struggle to decolonise climate mitigation policy and practice also plays out in the policy arena. Indigenous peoples disproportionately miss out on climate finance (Rainforest Foundation Norway, 2021), while decarbonisation policies originating in the Global North are often framed as ‘good practice’ to be emulated by policy-makers in the Global South. Finally, development-focused decarbonisation strategies in the Global South include carbon offset schemes for mitigating industrial pollution produced in the Global North, associated with land-grabs and biodiversity loss (Lyons and Westoby, 2014).

Critical (development) geography has a unique role to play in contributing to the development of critical social science perspectives that centre power and agency vis-à-vis the Global North’s decarbonisation strategies. Papers in this session therefore explore the new and shifting political, social, and cultural development geographies behind the Global North’s decolonisation strategies, relating to climate finance, green urban policies, carbon offset schemes, and green extractivism.


Breton, T., 2022. Critical Raw Materials Act: securing the new gas & oil at the heart of our economy I (Text No. Statement/22/5523). European Commission, Brussels.

Cuenca, L.B., 2021. Hidrógeno verde o cómo profundizar el extractivismo (Parte I). Obs. Latinoam. Confl. Ambient. URL https://olca.cl/articulo/nota.php?id=108872 (accessed 2.23.23).

Hickel, J., Dorninger, C., Wieland, H., Suwandi, I., 2022. Imperialist appropriation in the world economy: Drain from the global South through unequal exchange, 1990–2015. Glob. Environ. Change 73, 102467. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2022.102467

Lyons, K., Westoby, P., 2014. Carbon colonialism and the new land grab: Plantation forestry in Uganda and its livelihood impacts. J. Rural Stud. 36, 13–21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2014.06.002

Mejia-Muñoz, S., Babidge, S., 2023. Lithium extractivism: perpetuating historical asymmetries in the ‘Green economy.’ Third World Q. 0, 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2023.2176298

Rainforest Foundation Norway, 2021. Falling Short: Donor Funding for IPs and Local Communities to Secure Tenure Rights and Manage Forests in Tropical Countries (2011-2020) <https://www. regnskog.no/en/news/falling-short> accessed 3 February 2022

Singh, J.N., 2023. The new geographies of an energy transition: A challenge or a developmental opportunity?, in: Veltmeyer, H., Ezquerro-Cañete, A. (Eds.), From Extractivism to Sustainability. Routledge, London and New York, pp. 142–158.

van der Leyen, U., 2022. State of the Union Address by President von der Leyen.

Development Geographies Research Group (DevGeog)

Call for Sponsored Sessions, RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London

The Development Geographies Research Group of the RGS-IBG invites session proposals for (co-)sponsorship by our Research Group for the 2023 RGS-IBG Annual International Conference. The conference will be held from Wednesday 30th August to Friday 1st September in London. Session sponsorship means that a session is tagged in the conference programme with the Research Group’s name and gives session organisers the opportunity to promote the session through our Research Group networks.

Unfortunately, session sponsorship does not include financial sponsorship. DevRG is however able to offer a limited number of guest passes (covering the registration fee for a day’s in-person attendance at the conference, but not travel or accommodation). The application process for guest passes will be announced via our mailing list later in spring 2023.

The 2023 Conference Chair is Professor Harriet Bulkeley, Durham University, and the conference theme is Climate changed geographies. The theme invites a conversation about how climate change is, and is not, changing our discipline – our ways of knowing, exploring, understanding and acting geographically – and with what consequences. It also opens up debates about the kinds of geographies – urban, political, social, cultural, economic, regional, glacial, fluvial and more – that are and are not being changed by climate change. 

We are keen to sponsor sessions that directly relate to the conference theme but also those sessions that engage with broader issues of contemporary concern to development geographers. The sessions can be pitched as paper panels, roundtables, workshops and sessions that include Development practitioners. We strongly encourage innovative and inclusive formats. We also strongly encourage sessions which are led by or include scholars or practitioners based in the Global South. We would be particularly interested in session proposals on the following themes:

  • Geographies of extraction
  • Ecological debt and climate reparations
  • Indigenous territories and climate knowledges
  • Decarbonisation and development

Opportunities for hybrid sessions are available, but very limited. They will be allocated on an open, competitive basis, with priority for innovative sessions that make the most of hybrid opportunities and functionality. Guidance for session organisers can be found here.

The deadline is Monday, 13 February 2023 at 5pm.Please contact DevRG Co-Chairs Dr Kalpana Wilson and Dr Katharina Richter if you would like your session to be considered for sponsorship (k.wilson@bbk.ac.uk and k.richter@bristol.ac.uk). We will endeavour to notify you as soon as possible. There are no forms, if you are interested, please email us with the following information:

1. Title of session

2. Name of co-sponsoring groups (if applicable)

3. Name, affiliation, and contact details for session convenors

4. Session abstract (max 300 words, excl. references)

5. Indication (if known) of preferred session format (in-person, hybrid, or online) and session type (papers, panel, workshop, etc.). See here for some suggestions. Sessions will be limited to TWO timeslots in the programme. A timeslot is 1 hour 40 minutes

6. Indication of any non-standard arrangements and/or hybrid session requirements (and a justification how the hybrid session would be competitive).

Details of the individual papers in the session are not required at this point.

This year marks the return of the DevRG’s Early Career Best Paper Prize. It is awarded with the IDPR Journal, whose editors (Dr Dan Hammett & Dr Glyn Williams) will work together with the winner of the prize to develop their paper for publication. Candidates can submit an abstract and a paper outline to be judged by a panel. The paper will then undergo a normal peer review process. Only papers from sessions sponsored by DevRG can apply. Further details on the entry process will be circulated via our mailing list, website and twitter account shortly.

For more information on the RGS Development Geographies Research Group see https://developmentgeographiesrg.org/.

For more information on RGS Annual International Conference see: https://www.rgs.org/research/annual-international-conference/

Full call for sessions can be found here:


Our sponsored sessions for 2020 are below:

2nd CFP: Intergenerational boundaries and migratory borders

Convenors: Dr Tanja Bastia and Matthew Walsham (University of Manchester)

Sponsored by the Development Geography Research Group DevRG

Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers,

London, 1-4th September 2020

Migration can reshape relations between generations, with profound consequences for families that span national borders or internal boundaries.  The challenge of caring for children in these contexts has often overshadowed the issues that older people face – whether it is they or other family members who move.  Migration may also transform how younger generations perceive ageing and plan for their own old age.  Research on intergenerational relations in transnational families is often disconnected from debates on similar dynamics within national borders.  

This panel welcomes contributions which explore changing intergenerational relations in the context of migration including:

·         The processes of intergenerational change in contexts of international and/or internal migration, including comparative perspectives

·         The strengths and weaknesses of different conceptual framings for understanding relations between generations e.g. transnational care, multi-local households, translocal families, global householding, etc.

·         The challenges faced by older people in mobilising care and other forms of support in translocal settings and policy responses

Although we are open to papers that focus on both the Global North and the Global South, we are particularly interested in those focusing on the latter.

Instructions for authors

Please email paper proposals (title, author affiliation and 250 word abstract) toTanja.Bastia@manchester.ac.uk and Matthew.Walsham@Manchester.ac.uk

The deadline for proposals is 31st January 2020.

Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers Annual International Conference 2020 

Tuesday 1st – Friday 4th September 2020, RGS-IBG, London

CFP: Digitising Geographies of Indigenous Folklore in the Global South: Colonial and Decolonial Praxis

Organisers: Dumisani Moyo and Deborah Dixon, University of Glasgow

Deadline for abstracts: 10th of February 2020

“The emphasis is on respect for tradition as well as nature in general. The respect for tradition goes along with the belief that everything, according to the elders’ vision of the world, trees, animals, rivers, stones, mountains, are endowed with life, hence the interaction of humans and non humans in the folktales. Mountains, trees or stones were believed to be the abode of the spirits. Because today respect for these has disappeared, we see the wanton cutting down of trees, the destruction of sacred places and the disinterest in oral traditions” Boston Soko, Professor of Oral Literature, University of Mzuzu.

(see https://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/csr/ForTheNextGeneration/malawi/).

The study of Indigenous folklore has recently benefited from a heightened impetus. UNESCO in particular has signified the importance of this with two key documents: the (1982) Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Folklore, and the (2003) Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Contemporary to this shift are 21st century efforts to develop and deploy a digital humanities; efforts that intersect with some lines of research in a creative geohumanities. In the Global South, the United Nations (through its agencies including UNDP and UNESCO) is partnering with national government agencies and philanthropocapitalism to research, document and digitize folklore, to conserve, protect and promote cultural heritages.

To borrow Betiang and Akpan’s (2018) phrasing, this convergence of media technologies, industry and markets, has, among other consequences, altered spaces of being and knowledge production for all persons involved, and the modes/technologies for the creation, production, distribution, and consumption of Indigenous knowledges. While the digitisation of Indigenous knowledges has received considerable attention in traditional humanities, arts, literature studies, linguistics, media studies, journalism, law, history and other fields of study (for example, Betiang and Akpan, 2018; Broadwell & Tangherlini, 2017; Chisiza, 2017; Hagedoorn & Sauer, 2018; Hunt and stevenson, 2017; Pomadaki, Dimoulas, Kalliris, & Paschalidis, 2019; Risam, 2018; Sauer, 2017; van Krieken, 2018), geographers have arguably, and rightly, remained cautious.

Folklore has been a space of ontological, teleological and epistemological escape/freedom from colonial/imperial negativities, and negativism more generally (see Mbembe, 2017: Ch. 5). Reading Mbembe in conversation with his interlocutors, including geographers, a decolonial reading of and approach to digitizing folklore would unsettle a ‘capturing’ or ‘preservation’ of Indigenous knowledges. What teleologies, ontologies and epistemologies come to bear in these interactions? How do these questions reflect in the digitization process itself, and in the results – viewed as pluriversal for the digitizer, the narrative and the storyteller, their environments and communities (see Blank, 2009; Thairu, 2007; Sauer, 2017)? Such a nuanced reading might help awaken new sensibilities that could reshape geographical methodology, as well as the ethical considerations of digitization. With this in mind, this session calls for papers that address themes and questions including but not confined to:

  1. What happens when Indigenous knowledges are demarcated as a valuable ‘cultural heritage’? What kind of geopolitics, and ongoing colonialities, are at work in framing Indigenous knowledges?
  2. How are organisations, individuals, technologies, and sites enrolled into digitisation efforts, such that a logistics of preservation is designed and enacted? And what epistemological frameworks does a digital humanities bring to bear in identifying, collecting, translating, preserving, storing, analysing and disseminating folklore?
  3. How do Indigenous folklores on, for example, agriculture, land use and environmental management, resist, challenge, escape and/or lend themselves to digitization?
  4. How might a substantive focus on the digitisation of Indigenous folklore facilitate decolonising epistemologies and practices more broadly?

Please send your title, abstract (max. 250 words), and full contact details to Dumisani Moyo (d.moyo.1@research.gla.ac.uk) and Deborah Dixon (deborah.dixon@glasgow.ac.uk) by 10th of February 2020. We will respond to you about the selection of papers by February 14th.

Trafficking (and) Borders

Call for Papers: 
Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG), Annual International Conference

London, 1–4 September 2020

Convenor: Ayushman Bhagat, Durham University, UK

Discussant: Professor Nina Laurie, University of St-Andrews, UK

On October 23, 2019, dead bodies of 39 Vietnamese nationals were found inside a refrigerated lorry in Essex, UK. These people were considered to have been trafficked by several media personnel, politicians, and NGO workers. Paradoxically, the narrative of trafficking would have placed the burden of victimhood on them, if they would have found alive in the UK. Further, the same narrative would have transformed them into subjects of detention, deportation, and prosecution, if the UK border police would have intercepted the lorry before its entry inside the territory. These are some of the repercussions of the dominant narrative of Human Trafficking which demands strict border controls, restrictive immigration practices, greater migrant policing and surveillance as preventive measures to avoid such incidences.

Whilst celebrities, politicians, activists, consultants, responsible corporate staffs and some academics endorse this ever-burgeoning narrative of Trafficking (Kempadoo, 2015), critical scholars from several disciplines repeatedly highlight the ambiguity of the term ‘Human Trafficking’ which is often invoked by different actors to render their respective political agendas (O’Connell Davidson, 2010). Critical scholarship unfailingly problematizes the politically contested definition (Anderson, 2007; Chuang, 2014), shoddy researches (Tyldum, 2010), exaggerated numbers of victims (Feignold, 2010; McGrath and Mieres, 2014), unethical representations (Andrijasevic, 2007), global politics of rescue (McGrath and Watson, 2018) and counterproductive interventions (Kempadoo, Sanghera and Pattanaik, 2012), which render rightlessness, oppression, and exploitation among the very people the narrative anti-trafficking promises to protect (O’Connell Davidson, 2015). This is what is known as the ‘collateral damage’ of anti-trafficking interventions (GAATW, 2007).

In Geography, these concerns are reflected in the debate over how labour regimes (Strauss and McGrath, 2017), citizenship regimes (Richardson et al., 2016) and immigration regimes (Aradau, 2008) are conceptualized. However, the consequence of this politically charged multi-disciplinary arena of ‘Human Trafficking’ on the wider conceptualization of borders remains relatively unexplored (see: Laurie et al. (2015)). Hence following a call to study “Geographies of Trafficking” (Laurie, Richardson, Poudel and Townsend, 2015; Smith, 2018), this session aims to bring together scholars from different sub-disciplines – border, migration, citizenship, security, labour, gender  – to problematize (anti-)trafficking through borders and, at the same time, conceptualize borders through (anti-)trafficking. Through this, we aim to explore:

  1. To what extent can we understand and position Trafficking as border producing narrative?
  2. How do the interventions following the discourse of Trafficking structure and multiply borders for the people on the move?
  3. How could we utilize insights from critical border/migration/security studies to analyze the collateral damages of anti-trafficking interventions?
  4. How can we conceptualize rescaling, respatialisation, and reconfiguration of borders through the trafficking?
  5. What are the Northern and Southern perspectives of understanding trafficking through borders or understanding borders through trafficking?
  6. How do people on the move, or in the labour relation respond to these borders of trafficking?
  7. How can we study borders and trafficking together to avoid ‘methodological nationalism’ and ‘methodological individualism’ in the research?

Incorporating borders as an analytic to examine (anti-)trafficking could offer new insights on (re)production of contingent forms, sites, agents and practices of exploitation. The aim here is to advance the call of studying “Geographies of Trafficking” through the lenses of borders. Hence, we invite contributions seeking to advance geographical perspectives on Human Trafficking and identify new conceptual and methodological arenas within this multi-disciplinary field of study. Please send your title, abstract (of approx. 250 words) and expressions of interest to ayushman.bhagat@durham.ac.uk by February 5, 2020.

Rethinking barriers to sustainable rural energy access

Natalie Boyd Williams (University of Stirling – n.a.boydwilliams@stir.ac.uk)

Hannah Mottram (University of Sheffield – hfmottram1@sheffield.ac.uk)

Globally, over 10% of the world population does not have access to electricity, and 40% do not have access to clean fuels for cooking – and levels of access are much lower in rural areas. At the same time that political pressure to improve access globally is increasing, however, the rapid onset of climate change imposes structures on the type and intensity of energy access globally. 

Despite technologies continually developing and achieving economies of scale, global energy access targets continue to be unmet. Projects are too often engineered through the lens of technological and economic aspirations rather than attending to the specific needs and aspirations of individual communities. 

In this session we would like to address questions that explore this idea further as well as investigating the critical importance (and limitations) of the social scale of energy access, with a view to extending practical social methodologies. We would also like to explore reasons for the slow progress towards universal energy access and interrogate how energy access is defined or understood, as well as questioning the premise of the existing energy access goals. 

This session will include 4-5 presentations with time for discussion between speakers and session participants. We encourage speakers to consider the following questions, and how these relate to your research or projects. 

  • How can we identify and cross the borders we have in our understanding of user experiences and realities to enable more sustainable access? 
  • What are the limits of current research approaches?
  • How can research be done differently?
  • What are the effects of not fully understanding the energy capabilities, understandings and aspirations of communities?
  • How do issues of energy justice materialise for communities?
  • How are energy access policies and projects evaluated, and is success measured appropriately?
  • What issues arise from conflicting approaches and understandings of different stakeholders, including the role of actors in the ‘Global North’?
  • Are current understandings of and ways of measuring energy access  appropriate?

We hope to be able to support distance/virtual participation in this session. If you would not be able to travel to London for the conference, please indicate this in your abstract submission. We also encourage participation from groups and individuals outside of universities and academia. 

Please send your paper title, abstract (up to 150 words) and full contact details to both session convenors by 30th January 2020. We will confirm participation in early February.

Crisis in Latin America: symptoms and consequences for urban Children and Youth

Session convenors: Maria Jesus Alfaro Muñoz (University of Birmingham) and Natan Waintrub Santibáñez (University College London)
Sponsorship: Geographies of Children Youth and Families Research Group (GCYFRG) & Development Geographies Research Group (DevGRG)

Latin America is experiencing a profound process of social change. In different forms and with different intensities, the social unrest has challenged models of development which, despite achieving relative progress in recent decades, are still reproducing historical divisions and injustices. The social discontent is (re)shaping relationships of power, the public sphere, and the everyday experiences of children and young people in the urban realm. This sequence of events asks for us to rethink the place of children and young people within local and global processes (Aitken, 2013). Moreover, it makes us rethink the role of children and the youth as part of this social process, either as passive agents who cope with injustices and obstacles in urban public spaces, or as active protagonists of public citizenship demonstrations, claiming for their right to better societies.

Wells (2017) suggested that the political and economic structures surrounding children and young people’s  everyday lives is increasingly constraining their agency. In this sense the session invites papers that aim to critically question how children and young people experience urban constrains, navigate local landscapes and engage with social movements within their own agency in Latin America.

We seek to explore the practical and theoretical implications of the changing Latin American landscape for children and the youth. We aim to discuss urban childhoods in convoluted times examining the interconnectedness of their lives (Holloway and Valentine, 2000) and the way their everyday lives are structured and shape by local processes.

Papers may include but are not limited to:

  • The role(s) of children and young people in the process of social change
  • Children and young people’s urban everyday experiences within a local landscape of social unrest.
  • Living in social unrest and the coping strategies in which children navigate the urban space
  • Civic and social participation of children/youth in public space
  • Children everyday use and appropriation of the public space.
  • Spatial discourses of children and young people everyday subjective and emotional experiences.
  • Dreams and expectations for children and young people’s future societies.
  • Children and young people’s perspectives and vision for the urban realm.

Keywords: Latin America, Social Unrest, Children, Youth, Everyday Experiences, Urban Childhoods

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to Maria Jesus Alfaro Muñoz <MXA964@student.bham.ac.uk> or Natan Waintrub Santibáñez <ucesnwa@ucl.ac.uk> by February 5th 2020. This should include title, author affiliation and email address.

We want to encourage the wider community of children’s geographers within UK and overseas tackling Latin American contexts to participate. In that sense, do keep in mind that whilst attendance to the session is ideal, we are also considering video-conferencing for up to a defined 20% of the authors if needed.

Urban Inequalities and the Social Contract in The Global South

“Social contract theory dates back to writings of Rousseau, Locke, and Hobbes and, in a newer definition (Loewe et al 2019), refers to “the entirety of explicit or implicit agreements between all relevant societal groups and the sovereign (i.e. government or any other actor in power), defining their rights and obligations towards each other”. With the dismantling of the welfare state, recent political narratives focus on reframing and realigning the relationship between government and governmental institutions and, thus, the respective contract between citizens and the state. Claims to renegotiate the social contract also seem to be causative regarding recent mass protests in Latin America, Northern Africa and Asia. We argue that massive urban transformations play a significant role in this. Therefore, using an urban lens one can argue that the local social contract in many cities in the Global South is under threat by:

• Retreat of the state from social housing and the production of an affordable centrally located housing stock
• Gentrification and mega housing projects
• Displacement
• Segregation and marginalization

We seek papers dealing with urban transformations in the Global South through the perspective of the social contract and the impact of these on state-society relations on a local scale. Papers may address – but are not limited to – the following aspects:

-How the concept of the social contract can be used to explain urban inequalities in the Global South
-Provision of social services (or the lack thereof) during processes of urban transformation (i.e. social housing, municipal/legal services, health care, education).
-Withdrawal of state protection (i.e. property rights, use of police force, landlord harassment, forced evictions)
-Recognition of the state’s legitimacy (trust in the state and its institution)
-What can be done to increase social cohesion or strengthen the social contract for cities under scrutiny

If you would like to propose a paper presentation, please send abstracts of up to 250 words to Aysegul Can (aysegul.can87@gmail.com) and Yannick Sudermann (y.sudermann@gmx.de) by Friday, February 7th, 2020