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Local perceptions of land-use change: using participatory art to reveal direct and indirect socioenvironmental effects of land acquisitions in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania

Emma L Johansson, Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University
Ellinor Isgren, Lund University Center for Sustainability Studies


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In this study, we combine conventional qualitative approaches with a more novel approach, participatory art, to explore local perceptions of land-use change and future aspirations for development in two communities in Kilombero Valley, Tanzania. We concentrate on the effects of large-scale land acquisitions on people and the environment in an ecologically important area. Leasing of land to foreign agribusinesses for the production of timber, food, and fuel crops has created a politically charged debate with strong ideologies on both sides, and people directly impacted are not the ones driving the debate. Local farmers, fishermen, and pastoralists were cued about landscape and livelihood changes through focus-group discussions, interviews, and by cocreating paintings of the past, present, and future. Findings reveal that art can make a valuable methodological contribution for understanding and communicating complex interactions between drivers of change and their socioenvironmental impacts, and for exploring desirable future visions.

Key words

land grabbing; land-use change; large-scale land acquisitions; participatory art

Copyright © 2017 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087