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Tanzania 1850-2000

Research project in Human Ecology

Project's title: Tanzania 1850-2000: The Political Ecology of Trade Networks, Food Production and Land Cover Change (The Swedish Research Council and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)) 

Project's duration: 2004-2008

Contact person: Thomas Håkansson (natrix [at] mindspring [dot] com; +1-859 269 7704)


The project aims at analyzing the mechanisms and driving forces behind land use and land cover changes in a regional and historical perspective. It contributes to the research on human resource use and global environmental change through its genuine historic perspective (i.e. not deterministic).

Land use and land cover change are traced in a 150 year perspective and causes for land use change will be sought in the history of population, trade networks, political changes and possibly also climate change. It is an interdisciplinary effort, based on historical geography, historical anthropology and physical geography with remote sensing.

We test the implications of current reversionary approaches to environmental exploitation in Africa, which downplay, or reject, the claim that current economic activities result in a depleted resource base and reduced food production. A range of sources, including historical maps, travel accounts, satellite imagery, census data and archival material will be utilized, and researchers carrying out ongoing local case studies in the region will be engaged as expert consultants.

The project is carried out in cooperation between the two geography departments at Stockholm University (Human and Physical) and the Human Ecology Division at Lund University.