About the organizers

Dr John Childs
Lecturer in International Development and Natural Resources
Lancaster Environment Centre
Faculty of Science and Technology

Having joined Lancaster in 2013, John is particularly interested in the political ecological dimensions of natural resource extraction, including the study of minerals, precious metals, oil and gas. He has researched the emergence of the discourse of ‘responsibility’, justice and ethics in the mining industry, particularly the extent to which Fairtrade can solve the problems of social and environmental injustice in artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Most contemporarily, he is interested in the political economy of ‘resource nationalism’ in sub-Saharan Africa and welcomes PhD applications related to the political ecology of resource extraction more generally.

Dr Benjamin Neimark
Lecturer in International Development and Human Geography
Lancaster Environment Centre
Faculty of Science and Technology

I am interested in the political ecology/economy of the emergent green economy. My research focuses on bioprospecting on Madagascar. Bioprospecting involves search for, and commercialization of, useful natural compounds for new pharmaceutical and industrial products. This research involved 14 months of intensive ethnographic field surveys and participant observation carried out in 2005 and 2006. These were implemented in multiple rural sites in northern town of Antsiranana, the central region of Bealanana, and the southern regions of Anosy and Androy. It included interviews with scientists in laboratories and state institutions and non-governmental organizations in the capital of Antananarivo. Also in Madagascar, I have investigated strategies to improve small-scale agriculture using innovative agroforestry methods, and traditional agricultural systems. These systems can have a major effect on farmers’ adoption of new livelihood alternatives. In my Master’s research, I developed techniques to improve the direction and speed of domestication of threatened Malagasy forest and fruit species, in order to increase food security and provide added income. I am involved in two new research projects exploring the uneven development of land-grabbing for biofuels in Madagascar and Brazilian agribusiness in Mozambique.


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