RCR / Projects / B4 Anthropology & Geography

B4 - Geography


Trans-local relations and the reorganization of socio-ecological systems in Kenya and South Africa

Research Areas:
Cultural and Soical Anthropology, Social Geography, Population Geography

Principal Investigators:     

Dr. Clemens Greiner
Prof. Dr. Detlef Müller-Mahn
Dr. Patrick Sakdapolrak

The central aim of project B4 is to understand the impact of human migration on the social-ecological systems (SES) in migrants’ home areas. These dynamics are highly relevant for the RCR projects’ research areas as well as for the conceptual understanding of social-ecological coupling processes, because livelihoods and natural resource management are highly dependent on influences from outside the locally defined system. Migration is therefore considered a particularly suitable vehicle to decipher the more general mechanisms of resilience, collapse and reorganization in complex SES characterized by intensive cross-scale dynamics. By focussing on the impact of rural-urban migration within pastoralist societies, the project will not only close a knowledge gap, but will also contribute to an understanding of human-environmental relations in Africa’s arid and semi-arid savannah areas that does not follow deterministic arguments.

The project seeks to advance knowledge on the migration-environment-nexus on a conceptual as well as empirical level: Conceptually, the project seeks to develop and synthesize the discussion on two broad topics, which until today remain widely unconnected, namely translocality and social-ecological resilience. Empirically, the project aims to employ the synthesized framework on translocality and resilience through comparative research into rural-urban relations and their role in the re-organization of SES in the Laikipia district (Kenya) and in Kuruman (South Africa). A wide-range of social science research methods will be employed to decipher these interactions, in close collaboration with the projects in cluster A (A1, A2, A4), to address the coupling of social and ecological processes. The focus on two cases enhances a differentiated description and analysis of the migration-environment nexus. While both cases share some similarities (geographical setting, livelihoods system), they exhibit different migration patterns and are embedded in different higher level economic and political settings. The comparative research will enable deeper insights to be gained into the impact of scale transcendent dynamics on the resilience of complex coupled SES.