I. (Iva) Pesa, PhD
2022-2027: I lead the ERC-funded project 'AFREXTRACT: Environmental Histories of Resource Extraction in Africa: Understanding Cultural and Political Responses to Environmental Transformation.' Together with two PhD candidates and two post-doctoral fellows we will study the environmental histories of resource extraction in three localities: oil drilling in the Niger Delta, copper mining on the Zambian Copperbelt, and gold mining in Johannesburg. Our central question is why the dramatic environmental effects of mining and oil drilling on landscapes and lifeworlds have elicited radically divergent cultural and political responses, ranging from apparent acquiescence to violent protest. Relying on oral history, archival research, popular literature (novels and poems), and music, we seek to understand how various actors have experienced and responded to environmental change. Inspired by decolonial and environmental humanities approaches, our study broadens the conceptualisation of varieties of environmentalism beyond resistance and resignation. We collaborate closely with the University of Port Harcourt, Copperbelt University, and the University of Pretoria's African Observatory for Environmental Humanities.
2022-2026: I am a consortium member of the NWO/NRF funded project 'Ecological Community Engagements: Imagining Sustainability and the Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Urban South African Environments.' Through a transdisciplinary approach, this research aims to emphasise the importance of creative imagination in understanding the water, energy and food security challenges. By working in local, urban contexts, the researchers seek to generate new knowledge about the ways to manoeuvre such precarity. By working with local residents and leveraging their understanding of the WEF Nexus, the researchers expect to be able to develop guidelines for partnerships that can help improve the livelihoods, the environment and the general well-being of urban residents in the South African context.
Some of the other projects I am currently working on are:
- Collaborative network on 'Coloniality, Decoloniality and Extractive Anthropocenes', funded by the British Academy
- Action-research project 'Just Food', together with Dr Gearoid Millar, Melanie Levick-Parkin and Lidia Cabral, funded by the British Academy. Working together with NGOs in Brazil, Sierra Leone, Zambia and the UK, we are examining conceptions of a 'just food transition'. See: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/socsci/research/just-food-922.php
- From April-July 2022 I will be a Landhaus fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich
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