Tor A Benjaminsen

Professor, Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric), Faculty of Landscape and Society, Norwegian University of Life Sciences

I am a human geographer studying environmental change and its governance within a broad and critical political ecology perspective. I am interested in both the material and discursive aspects of conflicts over how best to use land and natural resources. On the one hand, I study dominating narratives and how they tend to be promoted by actors with certain interests and positions of power. On the other hand, I am interested in probing the empirical basis for such narratives. This sometimes implies interdisciplinary work involving natural sciences. Examples of narratives I have investigated through this approach are: desertification in the Sahel; domestic use of fuelwood in the Sahel leading to deforestation; climate change causing more conflicts; environmental conservation providing community participation and social benefits; agricultural intensification among African smallholders leading to soil fertility decline; formalisation of land rights as a necessary condition for development; and overstocking of reindeer in northern Norway. These narratives and the governance they tend to be associated with are also met with resistance from smallholders, pastoralists and other marginalised people. I am interested in understanding such resistance and its interface with governmentality.

Experience

  • –present
    Professor Faculty of Landscape and Society International Environment and Development Studies, Noragric, Norwegian University of Life Sciences