My doctoral research is broadly trying to use the framework of political economy of environmental change to study contemporary agrarian issues in Pakistan. Particularly, I am looking at the historical tendencies that have culminated in the “global land grab” in the context of rural Pakistan. The global land grab is a recent phenomenon that emerged after the financial and food crises of 2007-2008 when foreign governments and transnational corporations began making land acquisitions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. These processes are severely undermining food sovereignty, access to land, and local knowledge of peasant communities. In doing this research, I am collaborating with Pakistani non-governmental organizations and social movements, as well as, transnational organizations that are against global land grabs. As such, my investigation will contribute to the network of researchers and activists working on this emerging issue.
My doctorate work is a means to develop my capacity at analyzing socio-ecological issues in rural communities, particularly in South Asia. It will help me teach grassroots activists and community leaders to analyze the socio-ecological problems faced in their contexts through the frameworks of political economy/ecology and environmental history.
Being a participant of GESA provides an opportunity to further deepen my interdisciplinary skills through workshops and discussions with GESA colleagues and faculties. Through my studying global land grabs in South Asia, I came to realize that this issue can be studied through different social science disciplines – including sociology, anthropology, and geography – to study changing socio-ecological relations. As well, it requires studying dynamics of global capitalism and the historical contexts of multiple sites; land acquisitions by the Gulf States in Pakistan could be studied by examining historical conjectures of both sites. Also, it is important to know about agro-ecology for better understanding the transformations in property relations and land use that comes with land grabbing. This is all to say that as graduate students, we need spaces such as GESA to bring together students and scholars from different disciplines so as to challenge and share in our journey in analyzing and working on socio-ecological issues.