Fluid values: Land-use, decision-making and institutional transition in Petro-industrial Regions (PIRs)

Authors: William Otchere-Darko*, University of Milan-Bicocca
Topics: Energy, Economic Geography, Planning Geography
Keywords: value, land, planning, extraction, incommensurability
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Roosevelt 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Borrowing the concept of "incommensurable values" from environmental philosophy and applying it within land-use planning in Petro-extraction regions (PIRs), this research interrogates the more-than-economic notions of "value". PIRs are characterised by entanglements of industrial, financial and environmental interests on often agriculture-based lands with varied tenure regimes. Materiality is central to these entangled interests, thus going beyond a mode-of-production analysis (i.e. Labour value-theory) and centering on the mode-of-extraction. "Incommensurable values" also highlights the power asymmetries involved in legitimising land-uses unlike the voluntary transaction approach (i.e subjective value-theory) which assumes equal transacting parties.
The paper evaluates state decision-making on land-use planning (2007-2017) in Ghana's South-western PIR, by analysing "How and why policies, practices and decision-making on land value evolves in such areas?"
The data includes 20-year land-permit statistics, policy documents and 30 unstructured interviews involving firms, chiefs, NGOs and state actors. The methods entail analysis of discourses, policy documents and longitudinal land-data.
Preliminary findings show that land has been further pushed into forms of economic valuation; as banked and speculated product (economic); as potential community equity (socio-economic) as well as potential store of (environmental) capital to offset petrol-emissions and house waste recycling facilities. Additionally, local adaptive land-uses (e.g. for informal economic activities) are being outcompeted and delegitimized by languages of 'efficiency’ and ‘aesthetics’ in emerging land-use framings. However, state functions are also being characterised by institutional 'hollowing-out' not only in terms of planning competences but also regional land-governance.

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