Aerial view of mining activity.

PhD course

Rethinking resource rights: Access, territoriality and property relations in the green transformation

Exploring how current development strategies referred to as the green transformation affect people's ability to access the natural resources on which they rely. 3-7 June 2024. Application deadline: 20 May 2024.

  • This doctoral course focuses on the impact of current development strategies referred to as the green transformation  on people’s ability to secure predictable access to natural resources they depend upon.

    In the current push to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, we are witnessing a resource rush, particularly at the peripheries in areas and for people already marginalized by other historical processes - be it in the Global South or North. This situation leads to the emergence of new resource frontiers that are often proposed as solutions to the problems in the socio-political centres. In turn, the (re)definition of such resource frontiers entails the discursive, conceptual, political, and enacted reshaping of landscapes, territories, and socialities.

    This is a complex process that cannot be easily understood and analysed through the lens of formal rights to land, water, or specific resources. Instead, the course starts from the premise that in order to understand these emerging changes, one has to address the multi-faceted and dynamic sociality that allows some categories of people access to resources, while excluding others.   

    By using a combination of theoretical and methodological approaches that draw on theories of resource access, social territoriality, and property relations, the course will open new avenues for understanding people’s relations to resources that go beyond theories of rights (be they formal-legal or customary).

    Access is concerned with the complex and dynamic bundles of powers, institutions, and other forces that grant some people the ability to benefit from resources. Territoriality (and related concepts of territory, and territorialization) investigate how certain groups (e.g. communities) or polities (e.g. states) affect, influence or control resources by controlling space. Somewhat related, sovereignty investigates contestations (sometimes violent) around land and resources from a perspective that merges analytically material interests and social claims, often in a historical perspective. Finally, property relations draws on the general insight that people often access resources by virtue of complex, overlapping and negotiated arrangements (like property rights) that are lodged in external conditions that form a field of social relations among institutions, policies, and social actors. This field of relations then modifies the rights and shapes what different actors are in fact able to do with these rights.

    The course draws equally on insights from the Global North and the Global South and therefore invites PhD candidates that work in either setting. The processes we will discuss in more detail include resource mapping and titling, enclosure, privatization, and abandonment of commons, broader social changes related to large scale development processes such as mining, investments in renewable energy, dams, agricultural developments, biodiversity conservation, etc. 

  • The course with take place 3-7 June 2024. Every day, approximately 09.00 – 15.00.

    Participants must expect to use time prior to course start to read the relevant literature. 

  • Participants should be enrolled in a relevant PhD or postdoctoral programme before joining the course.

  • PhD candidates who aim to receive credits must submit a draft of either their research proposal, article manuscript, or monograph chapter that they would like to discuss with their colleagues and lecturers in a workshop.

    Manuscript submission and feedback are compulsory for receiving the 5 ECTS upon course completion. The course is also open to participants who do not want to receive the credits.

    The course will consist of a combination of lectures, moderated discussions, and workshops, as well as a one-day trip to a nearby commons in the Norwegian countryside.


    • Introduction to the course: What can we gain analytically and theoretically from rethinking rights to resources? By Andrei Marin
    • Radical conceptualizations of territory in Latin America. By Diana Vela Almeida
    • Sovereignty and social claims in Latin America. By John-Andrew McNeish
    • Living on other people’s land, resource access and social relations in Southern Africa. By Marja Spierenburg
    • Indigenous cultural protection, the green shift, and the right to a healthy environment. By Øyvind Ravna
    • Territoriality and access as a desirable alternative to formalized rights in Mongolia. By Andrei Marin
    • Norwegian commons: history and current dilemmas. By Håvard Steinsholt 


    • PhD manuscript discussions (each manuscript presented briefly by author followed by one in-depth discussion and round table)
    • Mapping and social cartography. Led by Diana Vela Almeida
    • Local categories relevant to resource rights: methodological reflections. Led by Andrei Marin

    The detailed programme is still under development.

    • Andrei Marin
      Associate Professor, Course convenor;Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway
    • Diana Vela Almeida
      Assistant Professor, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrechs, The Netherlands
    • Håvard Steinsholt
      Associate Professor, Department of Property and Law, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway
    • John-Andrew McNeish
      Professor, Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway
    • Marja Spierenburg
      Scientific Director and Professor, Leiden University, The Netherlands
    • Øyvind Ravna
      Professor, Faculty of Law, Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
  • Pass or fail, 5 ECTS.

    Participants must complete all required activities in order to pass. 

  • Interested candidates must fill in the application form below and submit a confirmation of enrolment into the PhD programme at their university, along with a letter of motivation.

    Deadline for applications: 20 May 2024.

  • Funds are available for covering some of the expenses incurred by candidates who lack alternative funding.