‘Seeing’ Conflicts at the Margins: Understanding Community Experiences Through Social Research and Digital Narrative in Kenya and Madagascar

Across sub-Saharan Africa, a host of investors are committing unprecedented funds to develop valuable natural resources in the rural margins. Many projects are located in areas far from political and commercial centres, in places with established populations, fragile environments and histories of tension and conflict. While national governments welcome the potential of these investments to generate economic growth and create a more dynamic entrepreneurial environment, the benefits of these trends for local populations are often uncertain.

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A major challenge for researchers and policymakers is how to listen, help amplify and respond to the great variety of ways that people navigate the terrains of development and conflict and conceive their own security and insecurities. States and investors often ‘see’ conflict at the margins narrowly as disruptive insurgency to be overcome with greater securitisation or through local development projects. However, ordinary people at the margins experience, perceive and talk about conflict in ways that differ, sometimes radically, both from the dominant state security and investor narratives, and indeed from universalized conceptions of human and citizen security.

This project bridges the social sciences (social anthropology and human geography), the humanities (history, digital arts, film and visual inquiry) and community-based participatory research (CBPR) to examine how different ‘communities’ of actors ‘see’ and experience resource conflicts in Kenya and Madagascar. More specifically, we ask how different ways of ‘seeing’ conflicts and associated strategies for legitimising or resisting claims to resources shape relations around resource developments and reflect the changing character of conflicts in the region?

Interdisciplinary UK-Kenya-Madagascar research / facilitation teams will use stakeholder analysis, qualitative fieldwork techniques, and will facilitate a variety of participatory visual and audio methods to co-produce and contextualise multimedia narratives from the perspectives of local residents, private sector, civil society and state actors around four focal resource conflict settings in the two countries.


Image of Amber Huff
Amber Huff

Research Fellow

Image of Jackie Shaw
Jackie Shaw

Research Fellow

Image of Jeremy Lind
Jeremy Lind

Research Fellow

Recent work


Global investment, local struggles

Following the global commodities boom, investment has poured into large-scale extractive, green energy and other resource development projects around the world. Many of these are in the rural margins – places geographically but also politically distant from the centres of economic power. In...

17 March 2020