World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th – 24th 2010


Transforming Territories of Agriculture in North Africa (426) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: FRI 23, 9.00-11.00 am

· NOT_DEFINED institution: University of Leipzig, Research Center ''Difference and Integration'' (Germany)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Dr. Ingo Breuer

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: In North Africa, territories of agriculture are increasingly exposed to neoliberal forces of globalization. The transnationalization of agriculture, rising investment into the sector, and the growing scope of foreign land acquisitions are but three indicators of what is currently happening. Production is being integrated into distant markets, with emerging transnational commodity chains transforming local production modes. Land as a resource is increasingly contested. New sets of actors, ranging from wealthy locals to urban businessmen and foreign enterprises, have entered the ‘agricultural arena’ and renegotiate property rights. As a consequence, local livelihoods are exposed to new risks and insecurities, which is reflected, for example, by highly unequal access to resources and unprecedented forms of marginalization. The panel focuses on these processes of territorial transformation in North African agriculture. It will examine three sets of specific questions: First, how do neoliberal policies, globalized markets, and new investors reshape agricultural systems? Second, how are agricultural territories being restructured in terms of land use, tenure, and resource access regimes? And third, how do these dynamics affect rural livelihoods, which social consequences can be observed at the local level, and how can we identify winners and losers of the current transformations? The individual papers are arranged by analytical focus, from the household level to global economic connections. David Kreuer examines mechanisms of land appropriation by Eastern Moroccan pastoralists. Ingo Breuer analyzes the transformation of a local agricultural system in the wake of market integration. Sarah Ruth Sippel discusses European enterprises: dislocation to South-West Morocco and its ramifications for rural livelihoods. Sandra Calkins presents an analysis of trans-national land grabs in Sudan, highlighting new forms of conflicts. Finally, Janka Linke’s paper deals with territorial impacts of Chinese interventions in Sudan on pastoralists' livelihoods.

Chair: Dr. Steffen Wippel (Zentrum Moderner Orient Berlin / University of Leipzig)

Paper presenter: David Kreuer (University of Leipzig / Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research, Leipzig), “Land Appropriation from Below: The Case of Eastern Morocco”
The steppes of the Eastern Moroccan high plateaus, predominantly used by mobile livestock breeders, have in recent years become a stage for territorial transformations and renegotiations. These involve state agencies, private investors, and international organizations as much as the inhabitants themselves. Many nomads have abandoned their movements between different pasture grounds and stay on a patch of land they claim as their own, underlining these claims through the practice of agriculture. My paper will focus on individual pastoral households and analyze the ways in which they take part in the ongoing authoring of boundaries and spaces. Preliminary findings from a quantitative survey conducted in the northern part of the high plateaus in 2009 will shed light on the phenomenon of land appropriation from below. What are its temporal and spatial scope and scale? Which types of households engage in this practice? Can it potentially transform the basic social, economic and environmental setup of the region?

Paper presenter: Dr. Ingo Breuer (University of Leipzig, Research Center ''Difference and Integration''), “Restructuring Agricultural Spaces- Small-scale Fruit Producers, Wage Labour and Territorial Disruption”
In the context of market liberalization, many of the high-mountain agricultural systems of Morocco have undergone a transition from subsistence production of cereals to market-oriented production of apples, cherries and other fruit. The emergence of small-scale fruit plantations has completely transformed the agricultural landscape, facilitated the development of local labour markets, triggered massive investment into infrastructure, and changed the ‘traditional’ livelihoods. The paper deals with these processes, analysing the transformation of an agricultural livelihood system in the wake of market integration. Based on a survey of 556 rural households conducted in the Asni region of the High Atlas in spring 2009, it will examine local consequences of the (neoliberal) restructuring of agricultural spaces.

Paper presenter: Sarah Ruth Sippel (University of Leipzig, Postgraduate Programme ''Critical Junctures of Globalization''), “Dislocation of European Production and Local Livelihoods: New Spaces of Insecurity"
Dating back to its colonial history, Morocco has been a favoured zone of counter seasonal agricultural production for the European ‘especially the French’ market. Since the 1980s the main production regions have been relocated within Morocco more and more to the South. While the region of El-Jadida (South of Casablanca) recorded high exports in the 1980s, the Souss region next to Agadir is the most important export production zone since the beginning of the 1990s, and yet unchallenged. Recently, a third wave of dislocation to the Western Sahara can be noted. As a parallel process, the Moroccan export production has become increasingly internationalised with a second kind of dislocation at its core: Especially European investors have gained in importance in the Moroccan export-oriented sector in the last years. Due to the Moroccan investment-friendly policy, the advantageous climate during the winter months, the proximity to Europe, and abundant cheap labour European producers have invested in production and packaging in Morocco. They aim to control every level of the marketing chain from production over packaging to exportation, distribution, and commercialisation in Europe. However, the import of agricultural products into the European Union is highly regulated and restricted by political trade barriers. Fruits and vegetables are subject to a complex system of tariffs, entry prices, and quotas which function efficiently as trade control or prevention. Considering that a large proportion of the Moroccan export quota is realised by European enterprises, it is argued that ‘European’ production is ex-territorialised to ‘Moroccan’ territory. Thus, national and territorial frontiers are contested: ‘European’ space is selectively extended to Morocco. In a second step, the paper, which is based on fieldwork in Morocco since 2006, focuses on the local repercussions of this dislocation. Detailed case studies reveal the deep impact of globalized production systems on the livelihoods of rural populations: new spaces of insecurity evolve.

Paper presenter: Sandra Calkins (University of Leipzig, Research Center ''Difference and Integration''), “Land grabs in Sudan: The transnationalisation of agriculture and the rise of conflicts”
In Sudan land is a highly contested resource. Land grabbing and ensuing conflicts have a long trajectory reaching back to the land policies of colonial governments. However, by promoting foreign investments in agriculture and the energy sectors, the state has framed a new dynamic for the transformation of the landscape: Currently new actors’ pre-eminently wealthy investors from the Gulf States and Asian countries - have entered the arena, grabbing large areas of farmland and thus accelerating sociospatial change in Sudan. To analyse the underlying mechanisms of land distribution, ex-/appropriation and to identify key actors, I will discuss the recent foundation and development of the Edamer food security project, a small subunit within the large canvas of expanding mechanized farming schemes along the Nile. Based on the project's sociospatial repercussions, I will argue that the growing competition for land and the use of violence are collateral to the ongoing negotiation of new territorial orders and mirror the asymmetrical relationships of diverse actors in the translocal contest for land.

Paper presenter: Janka Linke (University of Leipzig, Research Center ''Difference and Integration''), “Sudanese Pastoralists and the Beijing-Khartoum Link: Territorial Impacts of Chinese Interventions in Sudan”
In October 2008 an event in Sudan captured the Chinese public: Nine Chinese oil workers were kidnapped in the Sudanese State of South Kordofan; only four survived the incident. Members of the nomadic tribe of the Massariyya were made responsible for the killings. This paper argues that it was no coincidence that Chinese nationals were target of this act of violence nor that it had been the first incident of conflict between nomads and Chinese in Sudan. Rather, based on a critical analysis of Chinese, Arabic and Western European sources, the paper reveals how lines of conflict and/or opportunities were and are shaped by China's country-wide, massive investments in different economic sectors, i.e. oil production, construction of roads and bridges, irrigation projects and well drilling. It also elucidates how China became Sudan’s most important trade partner and how these economic linkages materialized spatially. On the local level, the territorial impact of China's interventions on the nomadic pastoral economies will be examined, demonstrating how individual groups, like the Massariyya, have responded to a Chinese introduced contraction of natural resources, markedly pasture land.