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Political Ecologies of Resettlement in River Deltas

Neu, M.Sc. Friedrich / Hartmut Fünfgeld (2022): „Political Ecologies of Resettlement in River Deltas “, in: Geography Compass, 16 (6), e12621.
In river deltas, human interference with regional and global socio-ecological systems has led to a plethora of gradual and more abrupt environmental changes that result in inundation, coastal and river bank erosion, land loss and, ultimately, displaced people. Often apolitically framed as protective, state-led transfer of people to new housing grounds, resettlement has become a common response to such displacements. In its process, existing arrangements of land tenure and occupancy and, at times more covertly, related arrangements of capital, labor and the social fabric become dislocated and reassembled. In line with emerging critical geographies of resettlement, this paper conceptualizes resettlement in river deltas against the background of environmental change as a highly political process with far-reaching environmental, economic, social and cultural implications. For this article is based on an in-depth review of both resettlement and political ecology literature, we first elucidate the concept of resettlement before providing a structured overview of categories and recent trends in resettlement literature. We then focus on river deltas that due to multi-scale environmental change are about to become hotspots of future resettlement. Building on identified gaps in resettlement literature, the article concludes with opening up three analytical strands of political ecology as entry points to resettlement studies, understood as critical geographic research into localized manifestations of environmental change in river deltas. Overall, our paper aims to initialize conceptual debate, grounded in a thorough review of recent case study literature on resettlement that is informed by political ecology. The review challenges positivist reductions of resettlement processes as technocratic-managerial tasks that so far have dominated scientific literature in this field and opens up new perspectives for critical research on resettlements in river deltas for human geographers.
Date of publication:
Forschungsbereich: Patterns of (Forced) Migration
Language: English
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