Interview – Natuurparken krijgen steeds meer te maken met de krachten van de markt. Maar volgens Bram Büscher kan je die economische wetten niet aan de natuur opleggen. OneWorld Research sprak met hem over het nieuwe boek ‘Nature Inc. Environmental Conservation in the Neoliberal Age‘.


My new institutional home, the Sociology of Development and Change group at Wageningen University, has a vacancy for a professor in Disaster and Crisis studies. This is a really exciting post and we would love applications from critical social scientists!

Job Title: Personal Professor in Disaster and Crisis Studies (Tenure Track) (F/M) 

We are looking for 

Within the chair group Sociology of Development and Change (SDC) there is a vacancy for a personal professor with demonstrated excellence in teaching and research in the area of crisis and disaster studies. This position contributes to the chair group by focusing on crises and disasters within the context of contemporary processes of development and social change. The chair group is characterized by its interdisciplinary character, its ethnographic and its critical approach to studying development and change in diverse settings. The candidate will develop a research agenda focussing on challenges related to natural and human-made hazards, crises, conflicts, and their effects against the background of broader political, economic, social, cultural and environmental changes, including climate change. As these issues will increasingly play out in highly populated areas, peri-urban and urban settings, they will lead to new conceptual and policy challenges related to coping mechanisms, resilience, (aid) interventions, governance and disaster preparedness.

The position entails research, teaching and supervision of Bachelor, Masters and PhD students, acquisition and related management tasks. We expect the candidate to have affinity with educational innovation and vision in leading and improving the disaster and crisis studies course portfolio, by for instance integrating participatory teaching methods and modern media techniques.

We ask 

The candidate has

  • a PhD in a relevant social science field (anthropology, sociology, geography, development studies, political science) with a focus on conflict or disaster studies,
  • relevant fieldwork experience,
  • a strong international network and an excellent publication record,
  • an innovative and creative approach to opening up new avenues for research and the acquisition of funding.

In addition, we expect the candidate to have experience with interdisciplinary work and the capability to connect people in a team-building atmosphere. The candidate should have a passion for education, proven by a track record of academic teaching and supervision. Interpersonal skills and the ability to enthuse students and colleagues are also key assets. The candidate should be fluent in English. Foreign candidates are expected to learn Dutch.

We offer 

We offer a personal professorship. Within Wageningen University, a personal professorship is the outcome of a challenging career trajectory called Tenure Track (for more information about the Tenure Track at Wageningen UR visit www.wageningenur.nl/tenuretrack). We are looking for high potentials who excel in education and research. The position is a permanent one, but the appointed professor will have to go through an assessment after 5 years, on the basis of the tenure criteria that apply to personal professors. A part time position of 0.8 fte is negotiable.

Gross salary: from € 69.822,- to € 92.570,- per year, based on full time employment and dependent on expertise and experience.

A more detailed profile can be obtained from Ms. Marielle Takes ( Marielle.Takes@wur.nl), and from www.wageningenur.nl/dis. Additional enquiries should be addressed to the new chair of the SDC group, Prof. Dr. Bram Büscher. (bram.buscher@wur.nl).


To apply, please upload your letter of motivation and your CV, including a list of publications via our online respond button (see this link), before 15 December 2014. You will receive an automatic e-mail confirmation within 24 hours. The interviews will be held between 5 and 15 January 2015.

Upon shortlisting we ask the candidate to prepare a public trial lecture to be held in Wageningen in February 2015 as part of the assessment procedure.

Please note that only applications sent through the online respond button can be taken into consideration, please do not sent your application via email.

We are 

The Sociology of Development and Change (SDC) Group combines a critical approach to development issues and processes with an interest in crisis, governance, livelihood and resources, in rural and urban environments. It is interested in the nexus between local and global processes and the continuities and discontinuities between stability and crisis. Steeped in the traditions of anthropology, sociology, geography, political science and political ecology, we focus on topics such as food security, water and water management, environmental conservation, disaster risk reduction, social movements, and development and humanitarian aid.

For more information visit the SDC Group webpage: http://www.wageningenur.nl/sdc.

Wageningen University and Research Centre 

Wageningen University & Research centre aims to deliver a substantial contribution to the quality of life. That’s our focus – each and every day. Within our domain, healthy food and living environment, we search for answers to issues affecting society – such as sustainable food production, climate change and alternative energy. Of course, we don’t do this alone. Every day, 6,500 people work on ‘the quality of life’, turning ideas into reality, on a global scale.

Could you be one of these people? We give you the space you need.

For further information about working at Wageningen UR, take a look at www.wageningenur.nl/career.

Acquisition regarding this vacancy is not appreciated.

Interesting conference organised by my colleagues at the ISS:

The Political Economy of the Extractive Imperative in Latin America: Reducing poverty and inequality vs. ensuring inclusion and sustainability?

10 April 2015
International Institute of Social Studies (ISS)
The Hague
The Netherlands

Confirmed speakers include:

José Antonio Ocampo (Columbia)
Jean Grugel (Sheffield)
Laura Rival (Oxford)
Alfredo Saad Filho (SOAS)
Eduardo Silva (Tulane)
Rob Vos (FAO)
Carlos Zorilla (DECOIN)

International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) and Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation (CEDLA) invite paper submission for the upcoming international meeting on ‘The Political Economy of the Extractive Imperative in Latin America: Reducing poverty and inequality vs. ensuring inclusion and sustainability?’ Our aim is to bring together scholars working in various disciplines and traditions to critically reflect on the changes taking place in Latin America. Interested participants should send a 250-word abstract, paper title, full address and brief bio toeximperative@gmail.com by 1 December 2014.
Conference fee is 50 euros. Waivers are available for eligible scholars (PhD students, participants from developing countries, etc.).
Organizing team: Murat Arsel (ISS), Barbara Hogenboom (CEDLA), Lorenzo Pellegrini (ISS)

One of the prominent features of contemporary development politics and policies in Latin America is the prominent role of the state in directing and powering economic development. Accompanying increased state presence in economy and society, another consensus envisions the intensification of natural resource extraction as crucial for development. This extractivist drive is especially pronounced in the countries characterizing the ‘turn to the left’, which have at the same time played host to alternative development approaches, be it the concept of ‘buen vivir/vivir bien’ or the granting of constitutional rights to nature. While Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador have become emblematic of these processes, their impact can be felt across much of the region.
This convergence between state prominence and intensified extraction has emerged within a particular context in which the electoral successes of the leaders in power have been underwritten by promises to eradicate what has been seen as the two cardinal sins of neoliberal policies: persistent poverty and societal inequality. Eschewing aggressive redistribution policies, these states have instead sought to achieve rapid, poverty-reducing growth accompanied with largely expanded expenditure for social policies.
An ‘extractive imperative’ was thus borne as natural resource extraction came to be seen simultaneously as source of income and employment generation (through investment in extractive facilities, infrastructure, etc.) but also of financing for increased social policy expenditure. According to this imperative, extraction needs to continue and expand regardless of prevailing circumstances (be it low/high prices of commodities, protests of indigenous groups, or environmental concerns), with the state playing a leading role in facilitating the process and capturing a large share of the ensuing revenues.
A vibrant debate has since emerged regarding the best way to characterize these attempts, with some commentators hailing the birth of a post-neoliberal paradigm and others asserting that we are witnessing reconstituted neoliberalism. Various continuing or new dynamics – such as increased investment from China and other forms of ‘South-South’ flows – further complicate the overall picture. This workshop aims to move beyond facile dichotomies to address the political economy of the ‘extractive imperative’ and the tensions it increasingly generates in Latin America. Specifically, the workshop will engage with these broad sets of questions:
·    How effective have these states been in reducing poverty and inequality? How important is the role of extractive industries in their growth performance and in financing social policies? How durable are these policies within the context of fluctuating commodity prices?
·    What role do environmental NGOs and activists, who were early supporters of the leaders promising an enhanced role for the state in socioeconomic development, play in this new era? What are the implications for democratic politics of the increased criminalization of environmental activism?

·    Where do indigenous and other marginalized communities fit within this political sphere that is dominated by the state and its extractivist imperative? What are the potential cleavages between national poverty reduction strategies and the manifestation of their local impacts? Can meaningful and painstakingly gained indigenous rights –including socio-political inclusion, territorial integrity and the pursuit of alternative approaches to development and well-being – be fostered within the current conjuncture?

The NRC ombudsman today published his verdict on a complaint filed by the Dutch Postcode Lottery and the Peace Parks Foundation (see this link, in Dutch). They did not agree with the NRC article that critically looked at the Postcode Lottery 14,4 million Euro dreamfund project to ‘save the rhino’ by poisoning their horns to deter poachers and wanted it rectified. According to the Ombudsman, the postcode lottery insisted in the complaint that they did not paint too rosy a picture during the ‘Goed Geld Gala’ award ceremony and that the quotes from Lorinda Hern of the Rhino Rescue Project and Dr. Markus Hofmeyr from South African National Parks (SANParks) in the article were incorrect.

The Ombudsman  concludes that not only was the NRC article correct, the whole story is arguably even more worrisome than initially thought. The reason for this is that the Peace Parks Foundation tried to influence these two informants by making them write emails to take back their quotes. The Ombudsman spoke to both of them personally and confirms that not only were their original quotes in the NRC article correct, but that Lorinda Hern’s opinions about the Peace Parks Foundation are even more critical now, with her stating that “the peace parks foundation threw us in front of the bus once they got the money from the Dutch” (Sunday Times, 14 September 2014).

Last week, the Peace Parks Foundation  already admitted they had ‘gotten ahead of themselves’, and refunded part of the money for horn infusion to the Dutch postcode lottery (see the links in this previous post). This current news about the kind of  practices they are willing to resort to, to ensure that the truth does not come out, however, makes matters even worse. It resembles Dutch Peace Parks Foundation director Mr. John Loudon’s tactics in Nieuwsuur when he insisted that I had not done ‘my homework’ instead of admitting that they themselves had messed up (see my previous post). It seems time for the Dutch Postcode Lottery to critically look at its own practices, and indeed its funding relation to an organisation such as the Peace Parks Foundation. If the postcode lottery is really concerned with saving the rhino it would do well to start working with local grassroots organisations focused on longer-term social and environmental justice around protected areas in Southern Africa rather than working with elite organisations and individuals far removed from the actual problems in the field.

News just broke that the Peace Parks Foundation has refunded the Dutch Postcode Lottery part of the money they received for rhino horn infusion, see the Dutch NRC article here:


And the South African Carte Blanche insert here:


If we want to start addressing climate change and other major (socio!) environmental problems seriously, we need to take the critical social sciences and humanities MUCH more seriously as well. This is the core message of a paper recently published in Nature Climate Change, authored by a great team of scholars led by Prof Noel Castree of which I was fortunate to be part.

The abstract of the paper is as follows:

Calls for more broad-based, integrated, useful knowledge now abound in the world of global environmental change science. They evidence many scientists’ desire to help humanity confront the momentous biophysical implications of its own actions. But they also reveal a limited conception of social science and virtually ignore the humanities. They thereby endorse a stunted conception of ‘human dimensions’ at a time when the challenges posed by global environmental change are increasing in magnitude, scale and scope. Here, we make the case for a richer conception predicated on broader intellectual engagement and identify some preconditions for its practical fulfilment. Interdisciplinary dialogue, we suggest, should engender plural representations of Earth’s present and future that are reflective of divergent human values and aspirations. In turn, this might insure publics and decision-makers against overly narrow conceptions of what is possible and desirable as they consider the profound questions raised by global environmental change.

To read the paper, please go to the journal’s webpage: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v4/n9/full/nclimate2339.html

Kirsten Horne from Earth Touch TV made this great video documentary on the promise and peril of social media’s role in nature conservation. Kirsten interviewed me while I was doing my fieldwork in South Africa last April. I think the video is very powerful, but do let me know what you think by posting comments below or on Facebook!


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