Settler Colonial Beasts

This research project (2023-2026) will study the history and present roles of feral animals in forming frontiers. Frontiers continue to be critical material and discursive formations that structure the relations of extraction, migration, domesticity, and race. Drawing loosely on assemblage theory we argue that to understand frontiers—their spatio-temporal dimensions, the diverse imaginaries that shape their production, the particular forms of extraction that unfold within them—it is necessary to broaden our optics to think through the more-than-human, more-than-economic, and more-than-material dynamics of frontierization. Thus, while classical articulations of resources frontiers might see the formation of animal resource frontiers, primarily, as the appropriation of value through the exploitation of cheap nature we argue that the animals themselves need to be centered as an active agent in ongoing frontier production. The project is funded by a AUFF-NOVA grant from Aarhus University Research Foundation.

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Fencing the Feral

This research project (2021-2024) will investigate the radical transformations of the social and natural landscape in the Danish-German borderland, caused by the construction of a wildlife fence in order to prevent the migration of wild boars and the spread of Classical Swine Fever. It will analyze how national spaces and borders are coproduced through the spatial strategies of fencing, discourses of biosecurity and the invasive other. The project explores how technological interventions like wildlife fencing relate to larger political narratives of walls, borders and flows. It is the project’s hypotheses that biosecurity barriers through wildlife fencing in the Danish borderlands (and beyond) besides being a key driver for the reordering of the natural and social landscape and a general heightened securitization of the borderland, also provide important insight into the particular ways in which feral species like wild boars are portrayed and politized. The project is funded by the Independant Research Fund Denmark - Humanities.

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Special Economic Zones in Asian Borderlands

The RISEZAsia project (2016-2020) studies the emergence of new Special Economic Zones (SEZ) that promotes the development of remote and resource rich borderlands across Asia. Theoretically the project wishes to develop tools for critical engagement with the unique forms of exclusion and marginalization in borderlands instigated by SEZs. Secondly, in addition to its contribution to theoretical framings of borderland political economy, the research is significant for documenting the processes through which Asian borderlands currently are experiencing some of the largest land-grabs in modern history. Through the creation of new SEZs, million of hectares of land are being annexed to mining and plantation companies for industrial exploitation and remote borderlands are being colonized by thousands of labor migrants. These large-scale acquisitions of land and the infrastructure projects it has enabled have large impact on these ecologically vulnerable border zones and its population. The project is funded by a Starting Grant from Aarhus University Research Foundation.

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Rule and Rupture

This interdiciplinary research programme (2016-2020) is directed by Christian Lund at University of Copenhagen, and funded by the European Research Council (ERC). Political power is established through the production of the fundamental social contracts of property and citizenship. We conduct research on how this takes place, by examining what political authority is actually exercised rather than measuring how governments fall short of theoretical ideals. In developing countries with legal and institutional pluralism, no single institution exercises the political authority as such. Different institutions compete to define and enforce rights to property and citizenship. We believe this is most visible at the local level and after moments of political rupture. Eight country studies with rural and urban field sites will be conducted in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Climate Politics and Carbon Economy - CliPo

This project (2012-2014) examines the paradoxical outcomes of the global and local negotiations over the value of forests and investigates the mechanisms behind the implementation of REDD as a specific value scheme in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. A main assumption is that when REDD initiatives and discourses of carbon trade are attempted implemented on the ground these global discourses will combine with local terms and practices producing unexpected effects or ‘friction’. Critics argue that REDD policies can be manipulated and threaten to generate land grabs, displacement, conflicts, corruption and impoverishment. REDD seems riddled with conflicts of interest. These can make the initiative very difficult to regulate without a combined understanding of the various interests at stake, and the relationships of power in which they are embedded. This project is funded by the the Aarhus University Research Foundation.

Science and Power in Participatory Forestry

The SCIFOR project (2014-2019) is a partnership between four institutions in Denmark, Tanzania and Nepal. In Denmark, the Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO), University of Copenhagen comprises one of the largest research environments on natural resources management and livelihoods in Europe, and this is bolstered with additional expertise on institutional ethnographic approaches by the partnership with the Department of Culture and Society, Aarhus University. The project is funded by Danida and led by professor Jens Friis Lund, and will study the so-called scientific forestry plans in Tanzania and Nepal and their role in granting – or not granting – rural people forest management rights. The aim of the project is to develop and promote participatory forestry approaches that, in practice, support equitable, environmentally sound, and economically rational forest management. Read more about SCIFOR: Science and Power in Participatory Forestry.

Agrarian Expansion and the Politics of Territoriality on the Indonesian-Malaysian Frontier

This project (2011-2014) studies the drive behind rapid agrarian expansion in frontier regions of developing states in Southeast Asia (video link). Specifically, it seeks to develop an integrated understanding of how the current expansion of state-sponsored plantation development along the Indonesian-Malaysian frontier is interlinked with national policy regimes of national development, issues of territorial sovereignty, and global market demands.  The project is funded by a Sapere Aude - Young Elite Researcher Grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research - Social Sciences.