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Enriching perspectives: experienced ecosystem services in rural Mozambique and the importance of a gendered livelihood approach to resist reductionist analyses of local culture
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5522-5280
Stockholm University.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2445-2699
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2581-2588
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0260-3978
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2020 (English)In: Ecology & Society, E-ISSN 1708-3087, Vol. 25, no 4, article id 20Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Based on a case study from rural Mozambique, we stress that ecosystem services research may be enriched through gendered livelihood approaches, particularly in terms of experienced ecosystem services. Ecosystem services studies have been accused of being gender blind. We argue for the value of open narratives that are attentive to the gender dynamics underpinning the production and reproduction of livelihoods. By focusing on the experienced gender dimension of ecosystem services, livelihood perspectives fulfill the normative role of providing a people-centered means to assess the values of the environment “from below” and can therefore constitute an entry point to a holistic understanding of by whom, how, when, and why the environment is experienced as valuable. Our findings stress the dynamism and plurality of experienced ecosystem services (i.e., they vary across groups and time and cross-cut material and immaterial dimensions), as well as the asymmetrical gendered and fundamentally cultural relations that they enable. Accounting for the experienced gender dimension of ecosystem services is critical to contextualize the environment in people’s lifeworlds and to make understandings of ecosystem services representative of, and instrumental to, people’s voices and agendas. We show how such enriched, diverse, bottom-up ecosystem services perspectives form an essential foundation (together with ecological research) for resisting applications of reductionist top-down categories assumed to represent general local values.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Resilience Alliance Publications , 2020. Vol. 25, no 4, article id 20
Keywords [en]
Development studies, cultural embeddedness, experienced ecosystem services, gender, livelihoods, Mozambique, Nguava
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Environmental Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-42237DOI: 10.5751/ES-11781-250420ISI: 000603995100008Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85098551502OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-42237DiVA, id: diva2:1501442
Note

Som manuskript i avhandling. As manuscript in dissertation.

Available from: 2020-11-17 Created: 2020-11-17 Last updated: 2022-09-15Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Livelihood Implications of Large-Scale Land Concessions in Mozambique: A case of family farmers’ endurance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Livelihood Implications of Large-Scale Land Concessions in Mozambique: A case of family farmers’ endurance
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the process and the implications of large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) for local livelihoods, especially the livelihoods of those who make a living from farming. These individuals were historically known as peasants and are now more commonly referred to as smallholders, small-scale farmers or family farmers. What happens to their livelihoods as land under their control is allocated to investors?

Promoters of LSLAs stress that when land acquisitions are preceded by community consultations, there may be synergism between investors’ activities and local livelihoods. Accordingly, local farmers are expected to gain from, for example, closer ties to the market and new livelihood alternatives such as formal employment. Differently, critical voices contend that despite sound legislation on the matter, in practice LSLAs constitute drivers of dispossession, being therefore disguised land grabs. This research seeks to fill a knowledge gap on the immediate local livelihood implications of LSLAs. By employing a case study design in Mozambique (one of the countries targeted by recent LSLAs), this thesis adds empirical evidence that is crucial to the above-named theoretical debate involving LSLAs.

The analyzed case is pivoted by a Chinese company that in 2012 was granted 20,000 hectares in the lower Limpopo region. Despite legislation that asserts the legality of customary land occupation, in practice, land was seized without adequate consultation and compensation. Consequently, local farmers lost the most fertile areas. Nonetheless, farmers were able to regain or maintain access to farmland that was more peripheral and of worse quality. Concomitantly, the company generated a small number of jobs and created a contract farming scheme that, despite bottlenecks, benefited farmers who were able to handle risk. In general, families who lost land and those who entered the contract farming scheme strive to keep a foothold on farmland – a strategy that is partly explained by the economic rationale of seeking to meet the consumption needs of current and future generations. Additionally, family land is embedded with symbolic value (illustrated, for example, by individuals’ relations with ancestors buried in family land). The existence of symbolic and thus immaterial values that land embodies poses insurmountable challenges to the idea that it is possible to achieve fair compensation for the loss of land and the environment in general.

This study shows the renewed pressure (now through the hands of private actors backed by public efforts) placed on family farmers, derived livelihood trends (i.e., the overall precarization of family farming, the widening of economic inequality, and the feminization of poverty), and family farmers’ continuous endurance. Ultimately, this study illustrates local processes and livelihood implications of LSLAs in Mozambique, and likely also in contexts marked by similar democratic deficits and renewed incursions over valuable land that is intensively used. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Huddinge: Södertörns högskola, 2020. p. 189
Series
Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 180
Keywords
Large-scale land acquisitions, land concessions, land grabs, livelihoods, family farmers, peasants, gender, community consultations, popular deliberation, cultural ecosystem services, Mozambique, Lower Limpopo Valley
National Category
Environmental Sciences Social and Economic Geography Globalisation Studies
Research subject
Environmental Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-42236 (URN)978-91-89109-33-9 (ISBN)978-91-89109-34-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2020-12-11, MA636/via link, Alfred Nobels allé 7, Huddinge, 13:00 (English)
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Supervisors
Available from: 2020-11-18 Created: 2020-11-16 Last updated: 2021-01-07Bibliographically approved

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Porsani, JulianaLalander, RickardLehtilä, Kari

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