Land Transformations in BRICS Workshop
The Land Transformations in BRICS workshop is a Student Academic Project organised by Mihika Chatterjee, DPhil International Development.
Nearly 15 years have passed since the acronym BRICS* (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) was brought into our popular vernacular by Jim O’Neill, an economist at Goldman Sachs. Much anticipation was placed on this emerging bloc of nation-states and its potential future impact on the global economy, hopes even going so far as to predict that these countries would overtake the six largest industrialised western economies by 2041.
In the years since, these countries have undergone dramatic land-use transformations in the name of economic ‘growth’ and ‘development’: China’s attempts at reestablishing the Silk Road Economic Belt across Europe, Asia and Africa; in India, the Modi Administration’s plan to develop 100 smart cities connected by bullet trains; Moscow’s aspiration to build the Russian Far East into a ‘new economic bridge’ between Europe and Asia through the development of Advanced Special Economic Zones; the expansion of industrial large-scale farming in Brazil and South Africa, are all in many ways manifestations of the BRICS visions for ‘sustainable’ and ‘smart’ development.
These dramatic land transformations are also spaces of contestation: between the planned and unplanned, formal and informal; the rural and urban; of shifting economic interests and priorities; of imaginations about futures and understandings of the present and past. The negotiations within these contested spaces merit our attention. It is here, in these ‘in-betweens’, that contemporary social, political and economic trajectories begin to materialize, drawn out, unevenly and piecemeal.
This one-day workshop sought to bring together early-career academics and doctoral students in the social sciences to engage in an interdisciplinary discussion reflecting on these large-scale transformations of land and space in the BRICS.
It took place on Friday 14 June 2019 at the Oxford Department of International Development.
*When initially coined the bloc only included Brazil, Russia, India and China; however in 2015, South Africa was also inducted into the bloc, adjusting the acronym to BRICS.
Panel 1: Urban spaces
Trading China's authority: political trust as collateral in a Chinese development zone
Dr Tomas Skov Lauridsen, Aalborg University
Victims Co., Ltd? Land grabbing with urban/Chinese characteristics
Dr Yimin Zhao, LSE and Renmin University of China
From not-possile land to ou topos: exploring the scramble for commons in Delhi's urban ecology
Nitin Bathla, DARCH, ETH Zurich
Tea and coffee break
Panel 2: Infrastructure spaces
Discussant: Professor Ruth Hall, PLAAS, University of Western Cape
'China in Africa' and the spatio-temporal fix: tracing the Sino-African 'corridor agenda'
Tim Zajontz, University of St Andrews
The politics of land transformations and infrastructure construction: a case study in a Chinese touristic town
Dr Jiechin Liu, Goldsmiths University
Accumulation by dispossession and displacement in Durban: the BRICS Bank's amplification of socio-ecological-economic conflict
Professor Patrick Bond, University of Witwatersrand
Fear, hope and imagination in agro-food foreign investment: experiences of geopolitical-geoeconomic and operational uncertainty for Cargill Russia
Dr Chris Lander, University of Oxford
Panel 3: Rural spaces
Discussant: Dr Geoff Goodwin, University of Oxford
Agrarian change, everyday explorations, and imaginaries of land: the case of ginger farming in Southern India
Sudheesh R.C., University of Oxford
Global agro-commodity expansion and indigenous resistance in Brazil: new conflicts over old land
Edmund Hoppe Oderich, Cardiff University
Follies of fossil fuels: the case study of Adani Thermal Power Plant in Godda, Jharkhand
Malvika Gupta, University of Oxford
Tea and coffee break
Keynote address: Rethinking agrarian transformations: agribusiness expansionism in, by and via the BRICS
Professor Ruth Hall, PLAAS, University of Western Cape