Theme 3: New enclosures, conflict and labour

There is mounting evidence that monocultural food and ‘bio’energy technologies promising lower carbon futures are deepening inequalities in natural resource access and in power relations between corporate interests and (rural) workers.  Localised conflicts in the North and the South are emerging in relation to ‘public’ goods (sun, air, water) and their transnational commodification for the ‘green economy’ at the expense of communities excluded from decision making yet often most vulnerable to the consequent economic and environmental changes. 

In this theme we investigate the emerging primary commodity trades through the prism of the workers engaged in nodes of production, and of the communities effected by and resisting dispossession and intoxication from the spatial and technological advances in monocultures and mega projects. In doing so we seek to make visible socially and environmentally committed alternatives –much further advanced in the southern hemisphere- to harmful modes of production, and facilitate the collective and horizontal effective sharing of struggle and experiences across North and South.

Theme Projects

Agrotoxins, work health and the politics of poisoning

Agrotoxins, work health and the politics of poisoning

Alarming levels of pesticide use in food, grain and bioenergy production in Latin America are linked to European based companies selling products that are banned in Europe. This project explores the intensification of hazardous chemical use in agroindustrial processes and the potentially lethal effects on workers, adjacent communities and consumers across globalised food chains between Europe, Latin America and beyond.  It reveals the conflicts between monocultural advance and the alternative, ecologically committed practices of land based communities

Project Funding

SCF Global Challenges Research Fund; Brian Garvey (PrincipaI Investigator), Kendra Briken (Co-investigator). Francis Portes Virginio (Co-investigator)

  • Antonio Thomaz Jr and Ana Terra Reis, UNESP Presidente Prudente, Brazil
  • Peter Clausing, Pesticide Action Network Germany and Europe
  • Larissa Mies Bombardi, University of São Paulo
  • Wanderlei Pignati, Luis Henrique da Costa Leão and Bianca Pistorio Federal University of Mato Grosso, Brazil
  • Saskia Vermeylen, University of Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance

Back to the Future? Creating sustainable economies

Back to the Future? Creating sustainable economies

Crofting is a form of small land tenure unique to the Highlands of Scotland that historically has allowed for part-time, small-scale food production and cattle rearing on relatively poor land by crofters whose labour was also required in neighbouring industry by landowners. Climate change and economic instability, however, have renewed interest in crofting as representing “places of possibility” (Mackenzie, 2013) in opposition to capitalist logic, in offering varieties of future of work (see Mason, 2015; Srnicek and Williams, 2015) and more biodiverse landscapes. This projects addresses a dearth of ethnographic work that considers the social provisioning in these communities, their current and potential role in building more sustainable forms of work and community.

Project Team
  • Kendra Briken
  • Gavin McLean, Napier University

Social Justice and community: forestry, energy, housing and land reform

Social Justice and community: forestry, energy, housing and land reform

Stark inequalities in land ownership, economic and social inequality in Scotland’s rural and urban environments can be traced to a historical processes of dispossession and exclusion.  This project contends that addressing these requires a land reform that acknowledges the visibility of past injustice in the present and determines that the dispossessed are active in resource redistribution towards a socially just future

Project Team
  • Brian Garvey (PrincipaI Investigator)
  • Paul Tuohy (co-Investigator)
  • Jéssica Enara Vian (Phd Researcher)
  • Sean McGarvey, researcher

Research Excellence Award, Strathclyde; Scottish Universities Insight Institute

  • Kinlochleven Development Trust
  • Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust
  • Living Rent


  • Brian Garvey, University of Strathclyde
  • Kendra Briken, University of Strathclyde
  • Francis Portes Virginio, University of Strathclyde
  • Pedro Fuentes, Chile SCDA, Sheffield
  • Dercy Teles, former president, Trade union for the Rural Workers of Xapuri, Brazil