Workshop #4: Indian Ocean World

Workshop #4: ‘Poverty, inequality and the politics of natural resources’

March 2018
University of Cape Town, South Africa
Regional leads: Steven Serels, Guest Researcher, Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin and Rachel Wynberg, Professor in Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Bio-Economy Research Chair


The transformation of natural substances into resources is a socially embedded process whose benefits are unevenly distributed. Ensuring the steady supply of resources for the global market has resulted in the development throughout the Indian Ocean region of a set of political configurations that govern access to the natural world. For many people living in the Indian Ocean World, which stretches from Southern Africa through the Middle East to Southern Asia, local resources politics has resulted in the development of structural poverty. Further, the process of extracting, transforming and bringing these substances to market has been frequently punctuated by displacement and violence. This event will bring together scholars working on the link between resource politics and poverty, and activists from South Africa, arguably the region’s resource-extraction ‘success’ story, to discuss this link and open a dialogue about alternative ways forward.