Exploring telecouplings between mining and land change in Africa

PhD fellow: Anna Frohn Pedersen

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Germany)

About me

I hold a master in Visual Anthropology from University of Manchester and in Anthropology from University of Copenhagen. My primary interests are in visual anthropology, environmental studies, migration and studies of place and place-making. I has previously conducted fieldwork in Malaysia, Nepal, Denmark and the US.

My previous experience from an interdisciplinary research project, carried out in Malaysia, taught me the value of engaging different disciplines, as these together can nuance perspectives on environmental issues and bring forth complexities that cannot be comprehended by one discipline alone. Moreover, this fieldwork experience broadened my understanding of how local land changes do not emerge in a vacuum, but are connected to international, national and inter-regional flows of narratives, discourses, finance, and technology, to mention a few. In other words, it taught me to look both within and beyond the local in comprehending land change. It is due to this experience that I find the framework of telecouplings extremely valuable, and I look forward to beginning a new academic journey into this field of study.

My project explores the telecouplings between conflict free mining and local land changes. It will be based primarily in African regions, and contribute to the wider field of telecouplings by offering a multi-sited, ethnographic approach to land use changes and the various flows affecting and surrounding these.


Andersen, Astrid Oberborbeck; Bruun, Thilde Bech; Fenger, Milja; Egay, Kelvin; Klee, Simone; Frohn Pedersen, Anna; Lund Pedersen, Lærke; Suárez Villanueva, Victor. 2016. Negotiating development narratives within large-scale oil palm projects on village lands in Sarawak, Malaysia. Geographical Journal. 182 (4): 364–374. Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/geoj.12181/abstract

My research will contribute to the wider field of telecouplings by offering a multi-sited, ethnographic approach to land use changes and the various flows affecting and surrounding these.


Understanding how mining and in particular so-called conflict-free mining emphasizing good working conditions and low environmental impacts affect land-use is the topic of this PhD project. Such sustainability measures often come from outside the region in which mining takes place embedding places of mining in global flows of discourses, consumer demands, certification schemes, and materials.

Against this background, this research project will:

  • Use fieldwork research to explore how sustainable measures by mining companies affect smallholders living in the vicinity of, or working in such mines, mainly, but not necessarily exclusively, in Tanzania. The student is expected to:
  • Explore and to provide an assessment of the potential spill-over land-use effects of such mines (e.g. displacements of unsustainable mining) via a focus on the networks local actors involved in sustainable mining (miners, NGOs, policy makers, company representatives) engage in.
  • Finally, the project is expected to contribute to discussions on how to balance interests between sustainable mining, and local livelihoods and land-use practices.

In doing so, the research project will create a basic understanding of telecouplings activated through mining, develop and refine qualitative methods linking place-based changes with global flows, document how sustainable mining impact local livelihoods, and gain insights into how organizations concerned about sustainable mining can avoid unwanted outcomes and spill-over effects.

Principal Supervisor: Jonas Nielsen (Humboldt University Berlin, Geography Department & IRI THESys)


Anna Frohn Pedersen

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, IRI THESys
Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin