Panel at the XIX Biennial IASC Conference, Nairobi

The FOREQUAL and FairFrontiers project jointly organised and co-chaired two panel sessions during the XIX Biennial IASC Conference in Nairobi, Kenya from the 19th- 28th June 2023.
  1.  Panel 6.1. Infrastructures of inequality in the transformation of forest commons for large-scale commodity production

The panel on 'Inequality infrastructures' was held on Monday, June 19th at 3.30 pm- 5pm and included an initial introduction to the conceptualisation of infrastructures of inequalities in forest and land acquisition, and knowledge generation from colonial times to the present, by Maria Brockhaus who also acted as moderator. ‘Infrastructures’ here derives from the French definition, with infra meaning below, and structure meaning building. As such, infrastructures of inequalities includes both physical structures and underlying institutions, and invisible flows that (re)produce inequalities. This was followed by presentations given by Grace Wong on how distal flows of finance in Mai-Ndombe, in the DR Congo reinforces the status quo of power and plantation interests; Desiree Gmuer on the intersectional inequalities created by the establishment of tree plantations in Kilolo, Tanzania by foreign investors; and a final talk by Zar Zar Win Thein on colonial forestry science and practices have affected forest dwellers in past and present Burma (Myanmar). Closing the session, Ahmad Dhiaulhaq summarised the talks by highlighting the multidimensionality and pluralism of infrastructures across three presentations as well as persistence of colonial infrastructure, the important roles of the State and local elites, and the political reactions 'from Below' during land acquisition and territorialization processes.


  1. Panel 4.3.The colonial enterprise and the commons: conflict or congruence over ideas and institutions for colonial productivity and today’s development

On Wednesday, June 21st at 3.30 - 5.00pm, the 'colonial enterprise and the commons' panel led by Samuel Assembe-Mvondo, highlighting how colonial structures remain embedded in present governments (both North and South).  This, despite the often expressed aim of decolonizing governments and making laws more suitable to local cultures and context.  Governments have all bought in to the overall drive for economic growth through commodification of land and resource, privatization and entrepreneurship.  To complicate things, elite capture and corruption is evident in many ways, including through alliances between government and corporations to sell off national resources.  This was shown by three presentations: Moira Moeliono on how a new law in Indonesia supports the ease of doing business that in effect benefits large corporations and at the same time strengthens centralized control over resources, Maria Brockhaus presented findings from a comparative study of media-based discourse analyses in Cameroon and Sabah that highlighted how government and corporations build alliances in controversial land acquisition and carbon deals, and Gretchen Walters discussed the mechanisms in how governments are attempting to privatize commons in France and Gabon. Closing the session, Grace Wong discussed how colonial narratives of ‘empty’ or ‘idle’ land were still used by governments across all the case studies to create space for private enterprises, and the varied forms of ‘resistance’ from below. 


Read more about the XIX Biennial IASC Conference.

For more on the ForEqual and FairFrontiers research projects: