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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 252-267

Institution Shopping and Resilience Grabbing: Changing Scapes and Grabbing Pastoral Commons in African Floodplain Wetlands

Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

Correspondence Address:
Tobias Haller
Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern, Bern
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_19_104

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This article argues on the basis of a comparative study in floodplain areas in Cameroon, Tanzania, and Zambia that land tenure issues have to be related to historical institutional changes not only to property rights in land, but also to land related common pool resources. It further outlines that in addition to privatisation of resources, pastoralists face challenges from the fragmentation of cultural landscape ecosystems, which serves to undermine local common property institutions and their reciprocal resource management arrangements that provided resilience in floodplain ecosystems. Colonisation and postcolonial constellations led to a major institutional change from common to state property in African rangelands, and created legal and institutional pluralism which enabled more powerful state and wealthy actors to shop for institutions that suit them best, especially privatisation and open access constellations (Haller 2010). The article argues that it is this institutional change that transformed the previous cultural landscape ecosystems, that conservationists and governments now want to protect by excluding pastoralists. It will analyse how governments and environmentalists increase their bargaining power in order to appropriate these landscapes in the form of land as commons and green grabbing. It will do so by combining a New Institutionalism and Political Ecology approach (NIPE) with Appadurai's notion of scapes (1996) in a way that unpacks power dynamics for legitimacy-based governmentalities that link global and local scales. The article unpacks the idea of ideoscapes and adds a four-step historical phases model to the concept. This illustrates the scapes pastoralists are in (state, neoliberal, neoliberal applied including investment and conservation, and terrorism and control scapes). These scapes provide legitimacy capital for powerful actors, shape platforms for strategic selection of institutions (institution shopping) and act as Anti-Politics Machines (APM).

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