Spring School Natural Resources and Conflict: Violence, Resistance and the State - 4 ECTS

Growing pressures on natural resources related to land and water grabbing and climate change feed into concerns over natural resource conflict worldwide, making this a core issue in development studies today. Dominant paradigms frame the resource conflict nexus in terms of scarcity, employing some form of causal reasoning. This course unpacks and critiques this reasoning, introducing a range of other perspectives on the varied linkages between resources, conflict and violence. The course discusses the overt and covert forms of violence shaping resource access, the (absence of) resistance, and the role of institutions and state power. The course offers students a solid theoretical basis to problematize the relation between natural resources and conflict, drawing on classical thinkers as well as recent work.

Organised by Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS)

Mon 28 February 2022 until Wed 9 March 2022

Room Online

The course is designed fot PhD candidates who are interested in (further) developing a conceptualisation of the link between resource access, conflict and violence. Participants will actively reflect on the relevance for their PhD projects and research context. Participants discuss critical perspectives on research conflict from political sociology, philosophy, political geography, and (legal) anthropology.

Course set up

  • The course is offered in an online format, with a hybrid/in-person component depending on the pandemic and participants' possibilities. The course combines daily online 2,5-hour sessions with readings, assignments, and the discussion forum on Brightspace.
  • It encourages students to reconsider their own research projects from a variety of theoretical perspectives on natural resources and conflicts, with the purpose to stimulate creative thinking. Sessions cover issues such as power and the state, structural violence, dispossession, contentious politics, resistence and violence as performance.
  • The course is organised around reading, self-study, active pre-class preparation, in-class dialogue, and interactive methods.
  • The literature-based tutorial sessions (online, 10.00-12.30 every morning CET time) are partly organised around questions and reflections brought in by participants.
  • The course is assessed through a 'running' essay that that participants work on throughout the ten days, to be finalised shortly after the end.

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of this course, participants are expected to be able to:

  • Identify core theoretical frames to (re-)think the ways in which resources, conflict and violence are linked
  • Understand the relevance of historical and theoretical texts for contemporary debates concerning natural resource governance and conflict
  • Critically reflect on the implications of different theoretical framings for their research projects

What is asked of participants?

  • Readings will be provided at least one week before the start of the course, through a dropbox.
  • Participants are expected to read the literature, and send in questions and points for discussion to the teacher no later than 10 PM prior to each session.
  • Important: Prior to the first lecture, participants will send in a brief note (max 300 words) to the course coordinators in which you briefly:
    - explain your research project
    - elaborate on the forms of conflict, violence or resistence observed in your project
  • To finalise the course participants prepare a brief reflection paper which connect course contents to their own research concerns.

    Target group and min/max number of participants

    This intense course aims for a maximum of 20 students in order to assure a high level of interaction between the teachers and the participants. The course is intended for PhD candidates in the social and environmental sciences from within Wageningen University and from other universities in the Netherlands and beyond. The course is of relevance to a wide range of students, e.g. in anthropology and sociology of development, development economics, communication sciences, political science, environmental science or human geography, who are confronted with different forms of violence in their research, especially during their fieldwork. Students at an advanced master level are also welcome.

    Assumed prior knowledge

    This course gives a thorough introduction into important debates in the social sciences on governance, resistance and violence. Participants are expected to have a basic level of knowledge about debates in the broader social sciences. Please contact the course coordinators in case of doubt about the required entry level.

    Course fee 

    WGS PhDs with TSP € 275
    a) All other PhD candidates b) Postdocs and staff of the above mentioned Graduate Schools € 550
    All others € 825

    Cancellation conditions:

    The participants can cancel their registration free of charge 1 month before the course starts. A cancellation fee of 100% applies if a participant cancels his/her registration less than 1 month prior to the start of the course.

    The organisers have the right to cancel the course no later than one month before the planned course start date in the case that the number of registrations does not reach the minimum.

    The participants will be notified of any changes at their e-mail addresses.