(Counter-)Hegemonic Contestations about Green Futures in the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania

Authors: Rene Vesper*,
Topics: Political Geography, Agricultural Geography, Africa
Keywords: Gramsci, Tanzania, Futures, Ideology, Political Ecology
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 33
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Like many African countries, Tanzania is going through a phase of rapid social-ecological transformation: population growth, rural-urban migration, impacts of climate change, new local-to-global value chains, an African land rush, new infrastructures and technologies. While the contours of this transformation are widely known, no teleological development path follows from it. With a combination of future theory, Gramscian political philosophy and Political Ecology, it becomes possible to analyse the ideologies and discourses around different futures, and the ways in which a specific vision of the future becomes hegemonic. What makes Tanzania of particular interest, is it socialist past, its neoliberal turn in the mid-1980s and yet another twist towards an authoritarian developmental state in recent years. Both the past(s) and the future(s) are currently being debated.
Through qualitative interviews and multi-scalar ethnographic field work in 2019, two antagonistic domestic discourses on Green Futures became apparent. On the one hand, a neoliberal win-win narrative supported by the historic hegemonic bloc, constituted by the interests of (inter)national business elites and emerging middle classes. This bloc favours a neoliberal state that creates a business enabling environment by opening up rural peripheries for business opportunities. On the other hand, actors of a counter-hegemonic bloc, who stress the need for agro-ecology, food sovereignty and farmer-centred policy-making. These antagonistic discourses are fought along the lines of class, race, livelihood and gender. Both blocs have shown to be dynamic and continuously formed cross-scalar alliances for capital and legitimacy.

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