WASS/ CSPS PhD course| ‘Early Spring’ School | Natural Resources and Conflict: Violence, Resistance and the State |Special Online Edition | March 1 -10, 2021

Growing pressures on natural resources –related to land and water grabbing and climate change-feed into concerns over natural resource conflict worldwide, making this a core issue in development studies today. Dominant paradigms frame the resource-conflict nexus in terms of scarcity, employing some form of causal reasoning. This course unpacks and critiques this reasoning, introducing a range of other perspectives on the varied linkages between resources, conflict and violence.

The course discusses the overt and covert forms of violence shaping resource access, the (absence of) resistance, and the role of institutions and state power. The course offers students a solid theoretical basis to problematize the relation between natural resources and conflict, drawing on classical thinkers as well as recent work.

The course is designed for PhD students interested in (further) developing a conceptualization of the link between resource access, conflict, and violence. Participants will actively reflect on the relevance for their PhD projects and research context. Participants discuss critical perspectives on resource conflict from political sociology, philosophy, political geography, and (legal) anthropology.

Course set up

  • This course encourages students to reconsider their own research from a variety of perspectives and stimulates creative thinking through working with classic theories on natural resources and conflict.
  • The course is organised around reading, self-study, active pre-class preparation, in-class dialogue, and interactive methods.
  • The course includes literature-based tutorial sessions that take place every morning (online, 10.00-12.00 every morning AMS time). The sessions develop around questions and reflections brought in by the participants. Topics discussed include, among others, structural violence, dispossession, contentious politics, legal pluralism, violence as performance.
  • The course concludes with a debate session. Assessment is done on the basis of a ‘running’ essay that participants work on throughout the course.

Course coordinators

Lotje de Vries (SDC) (contact person), Gemma van der Haar (SDC). Lecturers include experts from different departments at Wageningen University. We are currently finalizing the course outline and will post it online soon.

Please reach out to Lotje.devries@wur.nl if you have any questions regarding the program.


The course is offered in an online format. The course combines daily online 2-hour sessions with readings, assignments, and the discussion forum on Brightspace.


To register for the course please contact Marcella Haan; Tel +31317 484126, Marcella.haan@wur.nl

This online edition is offered at a reduced rate. The fee is 275 euro for WUR PhD Students and 550 euro for those from outside WUR.

The course is organized and developed by the Conflict Cluster of the Centre for Space, Place and Society (CSPS) that brings together researchers from various chair groups within Wageningen University (WUR) –Cultural Geography (GEO), Rural Sociology (RSO), Health and Society (HSO) and Sociology of Development and Change (SDC)

Cover image: Stand with Standing Rock, by Leslie Peterson, CC BY-NC 2.0