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Shifting grounds – contestations around sand extraction in Sub-Saharan Africa 
Jan Bachmann (University of Gothenburg)
Katherine Dawson
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Environment and Geography (x) Violence and Conflict Resolution (y)
Philosophikum, S73
Friday 2 June, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

This panel seeks to explore contestations around sand-mining and trade in the wider sphere of capitalist extraction. Usually considered a ‘development’ resource intimately connected to aspirations of desirable futures, sand extraction is mired in ecosystems degradation and conflict.

Long Abstract:

Sand, the resource on which the amenities of ‘modernity’ are built, has until recently escaped our attention. The puzzle with this aggregate is that while reducing inequality requires substantive investment in infrastructure and housing, and hence large quantities of sand, sand-mining and trade produce profound challenges for both equality as well as ecological sustainability.

Due to the relative abundance, the low-threshold harvesting and the strong local use-value, sand is usually considered to be a ‘socially thick’ development resource that is intimately connected to the manifold and contested aspirations of desirable futures. At the same time, there has been growing concern about the socio-ecological consequences of poorly regulated sand-mining. Seasonal rivers, lakes, and open pits across Sub-Saharan Africa have turned into contested resource frontiers where unregulated extraction, economic opportunity, environmental degradation, and the destruction of community livelihoods intersect.

This panel seeks to explore the politics of sand across Africa. It invites both theoretically as well as empirically informed contributions on questions including but not limited to:

- What political contestations does the extraction and trade of sand produce in the wider politics of capitalist extraction?

- In what ways do sand-mining and trade generate different governance challenges than other extractives?

- How does sand-mining reconfigure sociopolitical relations (in terms of e.g. resource rights, brokerage, livelihoods)?

- How does the extraction and consumption of sand encourage thinking about the politics of urban infrastructure and material resources in new ways?

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Friday 2 June, 2023, -