The interplay of land use and mobile livelihoods offers exciting perspectives to new and old forms of maintaining a living. Our specific interest in this summer school lies in populations that are on the move. This includes pastoral communities, migrants and people who have been displaced by development projects, nature or civil strife.

One can observe a transformation and yet a continuation of mobile land use techniques like pastoralism (nomadic herding) especially in areas which are otherwise difficult to access or commodify. From an agrarian-industrial perspective on land, pastoralists are often stigmatized as backward, “frozen” and unproductive civilizations. This view neglects to acknowledge that pastoralism sustains much of the world’s milk- and meat production. It also misconceives the strength of pastoralism as a sustainable land use strategy.

Migration patterns also influence local land use systems. For example, migrants are often global players in land acquisition by investing in their home countries. Also, customary tenure systems change through individual members’ traveling strategies. In the context of border crossing and reintegration of both voluntary and involuntary return migrants, access to land plays a vital role. So do internal migrants who often relocate in search of farmlands. Migration in that sense brings to the fore additional contentions to existing communal tenure regimes and minority land rights.

When people become displaced, the whole picture unfolds differently again. Sometimes displacement is a direct cause of a government’s land policy and people lose both their plot of land as well as their livelihood strategy as a result. In other cases, displacement of some people offers new land use strategies and changes local power relations for others.

All of these issues are highly interconnected. Land acquisitions lead to massive migrations, displacements, and sedentarisation. Displaced pastoralists become migrants to the global North. Not only conflicts and civil wars can be explained by struggles over land but land ownership and land rights also play a pivotal role in peace building process and the repatriation and reintegration of refugees and displaced people.

Categories of social difference such as gender, age or ethnic belonging shape who becomes a migrant, who is displaced and “left behind” as well as who has the power to access and control land.

In the second summer school, we offer the opportunity to conceptualize the interconnectedness of land use and mobility as well as offer participants the opportunity to specialize and delve deeper into one of the three issues of pastoralism, displacement or migration. Just like in the first summer (harmattan) school, a special focus will be placed on enabling students to identify local power dynamics and categories of social difference that shape their matters of study as well as learning about the appropriate methodology. But in contrast to the 2016 school, parallel sessions will be run to allow the students opportunities to specialize and build networks related to their specific area of study.

Students will be tasked to bring in their individual cases and work them more into the main sessions in order to foster bridge-building between theory and practice. We are therefore especially interested in students who have already conducted parts of their field work. Again, Ph.D. mentoring sessions will be an intricate part of the program and basic qualitative data collection methods will be taught.

The 2017 Cape Coast summer school is a joint partnership cooperation between the University of Cape Coast, Ghana and Friedensau Adventist University, Germany and is sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation, Germany


The University of Cape Coast Summer School serves as an exploratory platform. Its main objectives are to:

  • Enhance the ability of young academics to include gender-sensitive approaches and feminist analytical tools in their research endeavour.
  • Provide young academics with relevant theoretical knowledge on the gender inter-relations of macro and micro-level land policies and local livelihoods, as well as legal pluralism and migration.
  • Encourage young academics especially on the pan-African level to create networks for further cooperation on studies around gender and land tenure reforms

Workshop Content

A. Framing the analytical contexts:

  1. Social gender relations and Intersectionality
  1. Feminists epistemology and the foundations of gender sensitive
  1. Gender-sensitive research methodologies

B. Gender, Politics of Land Use and Mobile Livelihoods

  1. Global (gendered) trends in land and mobile livelihoods (pastoralism, migration, displacement)
  2. Land legislation, and mobile livelihoods
  3. Intersectional analysis on politics of land use related to the fields of study

Target Participants

  • Ph.D. students from African countries, Germany and Ireland working on issues related to the summer school
  • Early career African Scholars and researchers within social sciences (Political Science, Anthropology, Migration Studies, Gender Studies) with little experience on gender-sensitive applied empirical research

Partner Universities & Sponsor