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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Resource Politics and Development (PGSP11418)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course explores how natural resources are contested in contemporary development processes across local, national and international scales. The course aims to deepen students' skills for analysing resource sectors and debates about power and development. Students will gain familiarity with key debates in political ecology literature and critical development studies, and will apply concepts and theories in examining case studies that include rural land rights disputes and land grabs, struggles over mineral resources, forestry policy and other sectors. Particular focus in the curriculum will be given to case studies in Africa and Asia, but some examples from Latin America and elsewhere will also be drawn upon and students will be welcomed to consider cases elsewhere if they wish in their writing. Students will gain a rigorous understanding of diverse framings of resource politics and rural development, gaining exposure to a range of epistemologies, methodologies, conceptual orientations and policy issues. This is a particularly attractive optional course for students in the MSc in International Development and the MSc in Africa and International Development; students from other programmes are also welcomed.
Course description How are natural resources embedded in power struggles? Why are new movements emerging to re-define perspectives on "resource politics"? This course provides a grounding in current debates about resources, power and rural development. Students will examine key texts in political ecology literature and development studies, exploring how natural resources relate to complex development dynamics in contexts of changing globalization. The course explores practical, conceptual as well as methodological issues in analysing struggles over resources, addressing issues of land rights and land grabs, struggles over mineral resources, forestry policies and other sectors, with particular focus on experiences in Africa and Asia. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach for analysing power dynamics that shape institutional roles as well as different ways of articulating social struggles in relation to resources.

Experimenting with different political ecology frameworks, students will explore the influences of government agencies, international development agencies, companies, diverse actors in rural communities, non-governmental organisations, social movements and other facets of civil society. The course encourages innovative approaches for re-imagining resource struggles in post-colonial contexts, and students will explore the goals and social consequences of various sustainable development policies. The course and will be of particular interest to students taking courses in international development as well as in social anthropology, African and South Asian studies, politics and international relations, geography, philosophy, economics and law. Students can take the course with any disciplinary background and are encouraged to explore issues from multidisciplinary perspectives.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Critical awareness and extensive knowledge of key debates about the social importance of rural resources and resource struggles in development
  2. In-depth understanding of power relationships in different types of resource sectors, especially in Africa and Asia, including on issues of land policy, mining policy and forestry policy
  3. Ability to critically analyse and evaluate initiatives of civil society organisations, rural communities, development agencies and governments in resource sectors
  4. Ability to identify and effectively navigate methodological and ethical complexities of researching resource struggles in the 'Global South'
Reading List
Bebbington, A. (2012). Underground political ecologies: the second annual lecture of the Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers. Geoforum, 43(6), 1152-1162.

Castree, N. (2004). Differential geographies: place, indigenous rights and 'local' resources. Political Geography, 23(2), 133-167.

Cheng, A. S., Kruger, L. E., & Daniels, S. E. (2003). "Place" as an integrating concept in natural resource politics: propositions for a social science research agenda. Society & Natural Resources, 16(2), 87-104.

Elmhirst, R. (2011). Introducing new feminist political ecologies. Geoforum, 42(2), 129-132.

Kumi, E., Arhin, A. A., & Yeboah, T. (2014). Can post-2015 sustainable development goals survive neoliberalism? A critical examination of the sustainable development-neoliberalism nexus in developing countries. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 16(3), 539-554.

Li, T. M. (2000). Articulating indigenous identity in Indonesia: Resource politics and the tribal slot. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 42(01), 149-179.

Rocheleau, D. E. (2008). Political ecology in the key of policy: From chains of explanation to webs of relation. Geoforum, 39(2), 716-727.

Spiegel, S. J. (2014). Rural place-making, globalization and the extractive sector: Insights from gold mining areas in Kratie and Ratanakiri, Cambodia. Journal of Rural Studies, 36, 300-310.

Spiegel, S. J. (2014). Legacies of a nationwide crackdown in Zimbabwe: Operation Chikorokoza Chapera in gold mining communities. Journal of Modern African Studies, 52(04), 541-570.

Spiegel, S. J. (2012). Governance institutions, resource rights regimes, and the informal mining sector: Regulatory complexities in Indonesia. World Development, 40(1), 189-205.

Zoomers, A. (2010). Globalisation and the foreignisation of space: seven processes driving the current global land grab. Journal of Peasant Studies, 37(2), 429-447.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the programme, students will be equipped with new skills in:

1. Synthesising and analysing empirical and theoretical material from a variety of sources

2. Examining, using and assessing evidence in support of explanatory and normative claims

3. Developing and evaluating arguments that take different kinds of social complexity into account

4. Exercising informed independent thought and critical judgment
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr Samuel Spiegel
Course secretaryMrs Gillian MacDonald
Tel: (0131 6)51 3244
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