The Politics of Crisis Framing (Part 2) | Land Portal

This roundtable session considered how the ‘practice’ of crisis signals an abrupt temporal ‘rupture’ and how this makes it possible to obscure underlying structures of power, particularly in the context of the relation between land and climate. In particular, it focused asked participants to focus on two questions: 1) within your research, how do you see the politics of crisis framing at work and 2) How might a frame of crisis contribute to reinforcing uneven /exploitative relations.


Key Takeaways

  • Making reference to ‘crisis’ can provide an opportunity for people in power to push a particular agenda.
  • It is essential to consider what making reference to crisis does to determine who ‘counts’ and who is made expendable.
  • Thinking about how crisis is referenced should also consider the historical processes at play.
  • Climate ‘crisis’ is inseparable from colonial conquest, and should not be seen as a recent rupture.
  • Traditional global powers are using reference to climate crisis to further their own agendas.


Rosine Tchatchoua Djomo African Studies Centre Leiden & Wageningen University, NL

Rosine’s research in Burundi points to how important it is to have an understanding of history when looking at processes of land restitution in post-conflict states. This also allows us to consider how national elites rely on donor-supported initiatives, and how this can enable exclusionary processes that limit who is and who is not deemed ‘eligible’ for restitution.


Bikrum Gill, Virginia Tech

Drawing on recent events in British Colombia, Canada, Bikrum pointed to how climate crisis has to be seen as part of much longer historical processes of dispossession and exclusion. He additionally made two crucial points: firstly, that the recent attention to climate crisis in the Global North should be critically interrogated for how as beneficiaries of the colonial project we/they are now using reference to climate crisis to further their global dominance in new ways, while also claiming an innocence about the origins of the crisis. Finally, he pointed to how the Western idea of a separation between man an nature erases all of the ways in which indigenous communities have long been altering their landscapes in ways that did not lead to destruction.


Max Ajl, Wageninegn University

Building on and expanding the arguments of Bikrum, Max pointed to the need to think about how the ‘sudden’ realization of climate crisis in the global north ignores that the start of the crisis was in 1492. Along with Max, he points to how a framing of crisis allows for exclusionary solutions, that deem some people and some knowledges as expendable, for instance, in proposals that we need to ‘conserve’ 50% of the planet from humans furthers a human/nature divide and erases the knowledge and rights of people living in these places marked for ‘conservation.’ Max argues that the frame of crisis is a way of manufacturing consent for damaging and exclusionary processes.

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