Bridging the metabolic rift: an epistemic justice perspective on land use conflicts in Kigoma, Tanzania

Last changed: 07 June 2024
Small-scale farmers in Tanzania harvesting hay, photo

Taking a political economy and epistemic justice perspective, conflicts between farmers and agro-pastoralists in Kigoma, Tanzania are explored in collaboration with the local community by making a movie about the conflicts together.

This doc project is a co-creative research effort exploring land use conflicts in Kigoma Region, Tanzania. In Kigoma, 35% of the land is under protection. Much of this land is forest reserves with colonial roots and with limited access for local people. The region is also witnessing increased population, increased immigration of pastoralist, expanding agricultural production and grazing, diminishing soil fertility, and increased costs of land and farming inputs. As a result, many people resort to the region’s forests reserves to secure their livelihood. This has increased the conflicts between farmers and pastoralists, and between these groups and the government, leading to numerous violent evictions of people from these forests. This takes place within in a global discourse on the need for increased measures to combat climate change, reinforcing colonial contours of resource management and of ongoing conflicts, and within the frames of increased capitalisation of both production and nature conservation.

In this project I build on the concept of convivial conservation, advanced by Büscher and Fletcher, and extend it beyond conservation to land use in more general terms to put focus on the fact that the lack of land for the multiple uses it is called upon to provide in Kigoma, creates conflict and separation, alienation – a metabolic rift – between people and between people and nature.

In an attempt to work towards bridging this metabolic rift, this project explores how knowledge concerning these conflicts can be produced in a way that favours local epistemic perspectives and solutions. I do this by making the research process co-creative, by making it a joint effort to understand, analyse, and expose the situation in Kigoma through making a movie about it together with the local community and a local drama group.

The questions this research asks builds on the PhD research I carried out in Kigoma between 2017 and 2019, and the questions have been developed through discussions and conversations with members of the local community in relation to what they think are important questions to explore further in their home area. The research is qualitative and will be carried out through focus groups discussions and interviews with the different groups involved in the ongoing conflicts and carried out in conversation and collaboration with members of these different groups. As a final step a movie narrative will be workshopped collaboratively with the research participants and the local drama group and a movie will be produced reflecting how the different involved parties see the ongoing conflict and what potential solutions they see to it. Through this, I wish to decentre my role as researcher in the process of analysis and in the narrative produced by it and give way to local perspectives and understandings of what is going on and what can be done about it.

Related pages: