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Global Change

 
Global Change is one of the great challenges of our time and, as a complex-set of processes, includes both social and environmental dimensions. As such, Global Change can be subdivided into sub-areas of scientific inquiry, such as population development, biodiversity change, urbanization, climate change, landscape degradation, etc. - processes that are characterized by the exercise of power, the availability of capital, resource conflicts and critical human-environment conditions.
 
At the University of Freiburg’s geography department, Global Change is understood as a comprehensive, integrative research topic that intersects physical and human geography. For this reason, our researchers study Global Change from a range of theoretical and methodological perspectives.
 
Our content focus is on climate change and its social contextualization, in particular with regard to climate change vulnerability and adaptation. These research topics are conceptualized as comprehensive socio-ecological processes that require a nuanced understanding of scale-sensitive, transdisciplinary human-environment research, including regional studies. Geography researchers at Freiburg explore the social dimensions and political negotiation processes related to global change in the context of other global trends, such as urbanization, demographic change, social inequality and economic and geopolitical transformations.
 

Research Interests related to Global Change


  • Marketization of sand in Cambodia: global networks, conflicts and materialities
    Project Manager
    Mattissek A
    Start/End of Project
    01.11.2018 until 31.10.2021
    Description
    Sand is not a resource that many people associate with conflicts. Accordingly, the increasing exploitation of sand due to processes of globalization is rarely the object of scientific and public debates. But despite the common perception that sand is neither rare nor precious, it has evolved into the most important building material and a scarce resource in many regions of the world, especially those characterized by rapid population increase and urbanization. In South-east Asia, a region marked by an intensive boom in the building sector, vast quantities of sand and gravel are used in the construction of buildings, infrastructure and land reclamations. Thereby, sand has developed into an increasingly valuable economic resource that is extracted extensively and traded over long distances. However, the expanding sand extraction remains not without consequences, but leads to massive ecological damages and conflicts with the affected sections of the population. The commodification of sand can be interpreted as part of larger processes of the marketization of natural resources which in human geography is discussed as “neoliberalization of nature” (Bakker 2010). Respective studies demonstrate that capitalist logics of resource exploitation often have negative social and ecological effects. At the same time, they argue that processes and mechanisms of neoliberalization or marketization play out differently in different contexts and produce heterogeneous and ambivalent effects. This project analyzes conflicts over the marketization of sand in Cambodia as a manifestation of capitalist market processes and their interactions with the materialities involved. Drawing on the Global Ethnography approach by Michael Burawoy (2000) and Anna Tsing (2005) and on ideas developed within the debate on New Materialism (Bakker 2010; Mattissek und Wiertz 2014), the project applies a set of qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze three main research questions: (1) Which global and regional factors influence the constitution and transformation of the Southeast Asian sand market, its respective structural conditions, trading routes and relations? (2) What role do actors play that are involved in the establishment of sand markets or protest and mobilize against the extraction and trade of sand? How are their respective strategies and practices affected by multi-scale influences and networks? (3) How do geological, biophysical (non-human) and social processes and entities of the sand-market interact and how do they shape the marketization of sand?
    Contact Person
    Prof. Dr. Annika Mattissek; Robert John
    Email: annika.mattissek@geographie.uni-freiburg.de; robert.john@geographie.uni-freiburg.de
    Financing
    Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
  • Atlas of Caravan Tracks and Caravan Trade in Libya
    Project Manager
    Braun K, Passon J
    Start/End of Project
    01.01.2006 until 31.12.2019
    Description
    Die im Rahmen eines DAAD Austauschs mit Libyen auf zahlreichen Explorationsfahrten durch die Sahara sowie durch Recherche in Archiven und Befragungen vor Ort gewonnenen Ergebnisse in Bezug auf Karawanenwege und -handel in Libyen werden in Form von Karten, Texten und Bildmaterialien aufbereitet und als Atlas in englischer Sprache herausgegeben.
    Contact Person
    Dr. Klaus Braun
    Phone: ++49 761 203 9223
    Email: klaus.braun@geographie.uni-freiburg.de
    Financing
    Libyan Studies Center (Tripoli, Libya), DAAD, Auswärtiges Amt