Political Ecology Network

CFP JPE special issue: Political Ecologies of the Blue Economy in Africa

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The Journal of Political Ecology is seeking contributions for a Special Issue on “Political Ecologies of the Blue Economy in Africa”.

Describing the potential contribution to human wellbeing provided by seas, oceans and their resources, the ‘blue economy’ and ‘blue growth’ agenda have variously become a guiding frame, policy discourse and set of practices across the globe. However, at the same time and with limited exceptions (e.g. Winder and Le Heron 2017), there has yet to be a sustained critical analysis which draws upon the fact that blue growth is simultaneously an economic, social, biological and geologic project. What are the political implications for scripting oceans and water as part of an economic imaginary of ‘progress’ and ‘growth’, and of separating it from landed ‘green’ economies’? As the ‘blue’ (like the ‘green’) is reworked spatially into a language of new ‘frontiers’, ‘opportunities’ and ‘alternative sustainabilities’ (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2017), what new political ecologies might emerge?

The blue economy narrative has been arguably nowhere more enthusiastically adopted in recent times than across the African continent. The African Union’s ‘Agenda 2063’ – the key policy framework for the continent’s future socio-economic development – makes explicit reference to the concept whilst in 2016 the UN Economic Commission for Africa developed a ‘policy handbook’ which describes maritime development as ‘the new frontier of African Renaissance’. Industries and practices that range from the established (such as aquaculture, offshore oil and gas extraction, fishing and tourism) to the prospective (deep-seabed mining, blue carbon sequestration, financing through ‘blue bonds’) are all seen as part of a future familiarly parsed as a ‘motor for development’. However, such impulses demand critical interrogation in the context of such new modes of accumulation and the spatial fixing and exploitation of ‘new’ resources.

This special issue is co-edited by John Childs and Christina Hicks (Lancaster University). It is envisaged that the special issue will contain 6-9 papers following a standard, high quality double blind reviewing process closely managed by the co-editors in collaboration with Political Ecology. With reference to an African context, we invite proposals that:

  • Critically analyse blue growth narratives (its construction, endorsement and resistance).
  • Rethink the ‘place’ of the ocean in the ‘blue economy’ by drawing upon/examining alternative ways of ‘knowing’ the ocean.
  • Investigate how political agency is distributed among different (human and non-human) actors in formulations of the blue economy.
  • Study the emergence of new ‘terrains of struggle’ (both materially and conceptually) across the continent (coastal and/or land-locked states) in the context of the blue economy.
  • Highlight strategies of inclusion/exclusion from the blue growth agenda.
  • Engage with different spatio-temporalities of maritime environments (coasts, seawater, seabed etc.) and their political formations/possibilities.

Please note that other topics and approaches are welcome so long as they contribute to political ecological approaches, broadly defined. The special issue is aiming for both methodological and conceptual diversity. For interested authors:

Abstract submission guidelines and relevant dates:

  • Extended abstracts of no more than 500 words should be submitted by email to by December 15, 2017.  Affiliation information of the corresponding author (including email) and affiliation of all co-authors should be included.  The co-editors will consider all abstracts before inviting a selection to submit full papers for peer review by January 10, 2018.
  • Full papers will have a maximum length of 9,000 words (including main text, abstract, references, tables, figure captions, etc. check full guidelines for authors). First draft papers will be due by May 2018 and, subject to review, due for publication in late 2018.

For any enquiries about this Special Issue, please contact Christina Hicks (christina.hicks@lancaster.ac.uk) and/or John Childs (J.childs@lancaster.ac.uk)

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