PhD defence by Sara Vigil - 200th ISS PhD

International Institute of Social Studies
Start date

Thursday, 7 Nov 2019, 10:00

End date

Thursday, 7 Nov 2019, 12:00

Aula B
International Institute of Social Studies
Spoken Language
Sara Vigil Díaz-Telenti

On 7 November 2019, Sara Vigil Díaz-Telenti will defend her PhD thesis on 'Geopolitical Ecologies of Environmental Change, Land Grabbing and Migration: comparative perspectives from Senegal and Cambodia'

In her research, Sara Virgil uses a ‘variegated geopolitical ecology’ framework to examine the material and discursive interactions between environmental change, land grabbing, and migration.  Using a global ethnographic approach, the methodology involves a historical and multi-scalar analysis together with extensive comparative fieldwork conducted in two different socio-political settings: Senegal and Cambodia.

Research findings

Notwithstanding important context specificities, findings across cases show how environmental and migration narratives, linked to adaptation and security discourses, have been deployed – advertently or inadvertently – to justify land capture, leading to interventions that often increase, rather than alleviate, the very pressures that they intend to redress.

The research shows that despite intrinsically opposed assumptions behind the ‘migration as adaptation’ or ‘migration as security threat’ framings, they can both interact with environmental and climate change justifications in ways that create ‘self-fulfilling risks’ which make insecurity and maladaptation a reality – and well beyond the landscapes where land grabs unfold.


The thesis and this Public Defence are a result from a partnership agreement on joint supervision between the University of Liège and ISS-EUR

Doctoral board


Professor Inge Hutter 

Doctoral dissertation supervisor

Dr François Gemenne, University of Liège

Professor Jun Borras

Members of the Full Doctoral Committee

Professor Jesse Ribot, American University Washington

Professor Anja Nygren, University of Helsinki

Professor Annelies Zoomers, Utrecht University

Professor Philippe Lebailly, University of Liège

Professor Murat Arsel, ISS-EUR

More information

The doors will be closed after the start of the Public Defence, but will be briefly opened after the candidate’s introduction to allow latecomers to enter.

Children under 7 years old are not allowed in the Aula during the first part of the ceremony.

The ceremony will be followed by a reception in the Atrium of the ISS.

Professors are invited to join the academic procession.