Your browser has javascript turned off or blocked. This will lead to some parts of our website to not work properly or at all. Turn on javascript for best performance.

The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Power, Land, and Materiality

Research project in Human Ecology

Project's title: Power, Land, and Materiality: Global Studies in Historical-Political Ecology as a Framework for Assessing Policies for ”Sustainable Development” (The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agriculture and Spatial Planning)

Project's duration: 2008-2010

Contact person: Alf Hornborg


The project consolidates a coherent, trans-disciplinary theoretical and methodological framework for studying processes of long-term environmental change. Building on previous research as well as six empirical case studies in South America, Africa, and Asia, it brings together a network of Swedish expertise on the subject as the core of a national “think-tank” capable of assessing empirical case studies of long-term sustainability from different parts of the world in the light of a well-founded theoretical framework.

The consolidation and elaboration of this theoretical framework – tentatively called “global historical-political ecology” – is thus an important aim of the project, but can only be conducted through continuous interaction and engagement with the empirical case studies.

The central analytical perspectives developed in the project emphasize that landscapes must be understood as the cumulative material imprints of historically successive patterns of land use reflecting shifting regional and global relations of economic and political power. The study of how global power structures transform human environments over time is increasingly crucial for the formulation of policies adequate to attain sustainable development.

Researcher team

Alf Hornborg

Gunilla A. Olsson
gunilla [dot] olsson [at] globalstudies [dot] gu [dot] se

Janken Myrdal
janken [dot] myrdal [at] ekon [dot] slu [dot] se

Eric Clark

Mats Mogren
mats [dot] mogren [at] ark [dot] lu [dot] se

Thomas Håkansson
natrix [at] mindspring [dot] com

Mats Widgren
mats [dot] widgren [at] humangeo [dot] su [dot] se

Ulf Jonsson
ulf [dot] jonsson [at] ekohist [dot] su [dot] se