Mangroves and Tangled Futures: Agrarian Change, Energy Extraction, and Coastal Ecologies in Mozambique and Western India

University Eduardo Mondlane

Abstract

We use the mangrove as a conceptual-ethical-empirical anchor to advance horizontal connections across disciplinary hierarchies, promote decolonial knowledge production, and understand political and environmental linkages between Gujarat and Mozambique. We aim to reframe coastlines through oral histories, installations, and soundscapes and create a new ecology of collaboration between Gujarat and Mozambique. Ultimately, this project will allow us to arrive at a) a portrayal of how the two coasts are connected through transnational coal and agribusiness b) how they compare when we investigate their mangrove-agrarian entanglements across land and sea, and c) questions they generate for long-term robust collaborative research on Inter-Asian trade agreements, transboundary dilemmas of environment-society, and their connections with local aspirations, and resource extraction.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Inês Raimundo

Professor of Human Geography; Director of Center of Political Analysis, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences; University Eduardo Mondlane

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Inês Raimundo is the former director of the Centre for Policy Analysis and professor in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo. She is a human geographer and ethnographer and foremost specialist on migration in Mozambique, including international and transborder dynamics, as well as internal rural-urban mobilities and forced displacements from environmental disasters. Her scholarship also makes her a leading policy expert on linkages of food insecurity, gender, poverty, infectious diseases, and informality in southern Africa. In her most recent direction of research, Raimundo is a leading scholar on the social and environmental aftermath of the cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which hit the southeastern coast of Mozambique in March 2019, considered two of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect Africa. Coastal destruction of infrastructure and ecologies translated to intense inland flooding, from Beira City into the Gorongosa hinterland, Raimundo’s ancestral home. Her experience in post-disaster and displacement research has led to her interest in critically reimagining scholarly collaborations. The international teams she was involved with fundamentally misunderstood power asymmetries of knowledge production and horizontal team-building. This is needed for critical environmental work among agrarian populations that face repeated disappointments by research procedures. These experiences inspire her desire to facilitate this innovative transnational and Global-South-led collaboration. Major focuses are: Situated histories of concepts of sustainability; Questioning representativity; Subverting hierarchies of expertise; and Political implications of nature and culture divides in contemporary social sciences, including emerging discussions of Africa in the Anthropocene.

Chandana Anusha

PhD Candidate, Yale University

  • Bio ▾

    Chandana Anusha is finishing her PhD in anthropology at Yale, on coastal development and socio-ecological change in Gujarat, India. Fieldwork experiences since 2006 inspire her engagements with uneven effects of state-sponsored infrastructural projects on landscapes and lives. As a volunteer investigating the impact of a massive dam project in her home state of Gujarat, she observed changing crop practices as farmers adapted to dam construction. During her master's at Delhi, she engaged in a collaborative study on forest councils and agrarian households in India's Central Himalayas. She saw that people’s attachments to forests persisted even when their material needs did not depend on them. In 2011, she took these questions of dependency and access to a wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, where the state had rehabilitated people displaced by the dam. She studied the implementation of a law guaranteeing indigenous rights to forests. Engaging with government officers, activists, and forest dwellers she observed mapping and counter-mapping activities. She also engaged in collaborative ethnographic research of a Muslim girls' school in Ahmedabad amid rising religious polarisation. With her PhD, she expands her focus from forests to coasts, where twenty-first century Indian state aspirations of geopolitical ascendency through international trade, have transformed the Indian coastline into a new frontier of resource control. She conducted over 18 months of ethnographic research, engaging with farmers, fishworkers, and graziers, and visiting port officials to understand how their ideas of a good life, best practices of land-use, and imaginations of prosperity became enmeshed in a mega-port project meant to expand and accelerate Indian Ocean connections.

Serena Stein

Postdoctoral Researcher, Wageningen University

  • Bio ▾

    Serena Stein is completing her PhD in anthropology at Princeton University and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, in the Sociology of Development & Change Group in the Centre for Space, Place & Society. Her research examines emerging agribusiness and resource frontiers in relational, interlinked geographies across the Global South, at the intersection of environmental and economic anthropology, political ecology, and technology studies. In particular, she focuses on the entanglements of former colonies in southern Africa and rising economic powers; agrarian change amid foreign land acquisition and new plantations; shifting norms of gender, kinship, and human-environmental relations; and localized experiences and practices of climate crisis and intervention. Stein is doubly -rooted in Brazil and the United States, with long-term investigation of 'kindred' relations between Brazil and Mozambique in historical and unfolding everyday encounters among aid, agribusiness, and extraction. She spent 28 months from 2015 to 2018 working closely and farming with smallholder farming communities in northern Mozambique and has collaborated with peasant and environmental advocacy groups, international organizations, and national universities and research groups in Mozambique (including UEM, IESE, OMR) addressing food price volatility, biodiversity conservation, seed politics, agricultural toxicities, land tenure, and reimagining fieldwork and research methods since 2011. Recent work also involves multimedia exploration of farmers and environmental change on the sacred Mount Namuli in center-north Mozambique, as well as indigenous practices of soil regeneration and multispecies conviviality in zones of extraction.

Participants

Ambika Aiyyadurai

Assistant Professor, IIT Gandhinagar

Marlino Mubai

Assistant Professor, University Eduardo Mondlane

Tarquinio Mateus Magalhães

, Eduardo Mondlane University

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