Senior Honors Projects, 2010-2019

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Department of Sociology and Anthropology


Joshua M. Linder

Jennifer E. Coffman

Chris R. Colocousis


Industrial agriculture and protected areas for biodiversity conservation are two major drivers of land use policy in the African tropics, with consequences for both biodiversity and rural human populations. In Tanzania, conservation and development have led to the marginalization of pastoralists, including and especially rural Maasai. I examine how local perceptions of land use and livelihoods are influenced by recent and historical expansion of protected areas and large-scale industrial crop plantations in Longido, northern Tanzania. Using the framework of political ecology, I situate the emergence of industrial agriculture, especially that of palm oil, and protected areas in the African tropics within the historical context of international power struggles over access to and control over natural resources. Through ethnographic interviews, ERAMAT© game play, and focus group discussions, I find that shifting gender dynamics, increased sedentarization, and the lack of opportunities to participate in and receive benefits from conservation activities have resulted in local participants favoring industrial agriculture over conservation, though land and water scarcity remain among their top concerns. This paper encourages the integration of local knowledges into land use planning to improve environmental, social, and economic outcomes in the region.

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