Already in 2012 GIZ highlighted the process of Societal Transformation (ST) as a ‘central paradigm of international cooperation’ (p. 3) to be followed by the IPPC report 2014, suggesting that ‘transformations in economic, social, technological, and political decisions and actions can enable climate-resilient pathways’ (p. 903). Ever since Prof. Troeger has challenged this enthusiastic and unambiguous welcome to processes of ‘ST’, and has followed it in her research in pastoralist environments in South Ethiopia, the Nyangatom Society in the Lower Omo Valley. In her argument she substantiates the claim of ongoing unsustainable and highly politicized handlings of environmental concerns and in consequence propagates the idea of ‘Justice’ in her latest publication (2021).
In her talk, Prof. Troeger will reflect on her research findings and will illustrate the meaning of ‘Societal Transformation’ with reference to socio-political power fields and disempowerment from the global, national and regional down to the local impact level, with the regional example of pastoralist communities in the Lower Omo Valley/South Ethiopia in focus. Concluding she will challenge some very affirming expectations related to the ‘buzzy’ perspective of ‘ST’, a recognition, which can doubtlessly be transferred from the example of Africa to environmental and livelihood constellations in Asia and Sri Lanka.
Professor Dr. Sabine Troeger is a human geographer with strong linkages to sociology and anthropology. She was first trained in the field of didactics of geography and composed her PhD-thesis on the topic ‘The image of Africa with German high school students and its meaning for teaching geography at German schools’ (1993). Her second thesis – according to the German university system her ‘Habilitation thesis’ – she published on the topic of food crisis research on the Ufipa Plateau/ Tanzania: ‘Food Security in the Context of Societal Transformation – Local Actors and their Agency in Tanzania’ (2001). Prof. Troeger has lived in and with life contexts and livelihoods in Africa for about 20 years. She has worked as Consultant for GTZ/GIZ and the German Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation in several countries of Southern and Eastern Africa and in Latin America/Ecuador. She held her professorship at the Geography Institute at Bonn University from 2002 until 2020 and is now ‘professor emerita’, still based at the same institute at Bonn University. She has published more than 80 mostly peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and has given many international lectures in GB, India, Mexico, the USA, and several capitals in Africa, e.g. Addis Ababa and Nairobi.