Grad Students

Ashley Fent



Contact Information

Email    ashleyfent@ucla.edu
Office  Not Available
Phone  
Political Ecology in West Africa

Utilizing qualitative/ethnographic methods, I am broadly interested in the conflict between environmental degradation and economic development, as it plays out in West Africa. My dissertation research investigates the negotiations around a controversial zircon and titanium sands mine along the coastline of Casamance, Senegal. I examine how people opposing the mine have used national environmental legislation (e.g. the Senegalese Environmental Code, the creation of Marine Protected Areas) to contest the mine, and how the legal requirement for the acceptance by the "population" has generated and re-opened debates about who may legitimately speak for the community, the district, and the region. Additionally, I examine the way that the Senegalese "state" is performed in a region where separatist tensions have brewed since the 1980s, and how the contradictory interests of the "state" are subdued and reconciled in the debate regarding the mine.

In addition to my main dissertation research, I am interested in Marine Protected Areas and mangrove replanting campaigns in Senegal. In this line of research, I collaborate with human and physical geographers (as well as Marine Protected Area agents and community members) to understand the ecological, socio-economic, and political impacts of reforestation campaigns. Finally, I am interested in comparative analyses of environmental governance and political regimes, focusing on illicit forestry trades and zircon/titanium mining negotiations in Casamance, The Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau.

I also maintain a cartoon series documenting my experiences in the field.

Fields of Study

Political Ecology, Critical Development Studies, Feminist Geography, Environmental Change, Food and Agriculture, West Africa

Advisors

Eric Sheppard

Judith Carney

Lieba Faier

Akhil Gupta (Anthropology)

Awards

Society of Woman Geographers Award, UCLA (2015-16)

SSRC International Dissertation Research Fellowship (2015-16)

Fulbright-Hays DDRA (2014-15)

Graduate Research Mentorship, UCLA (2013-14)

Larry Ford Fieldwork Award in Cultural Geography, Association of Pacific Coast Geographers (Summer 2013)

Graduate Deans Scholar Award, UCLA (2012-13)

Foreign Language and Area Studies Summer Fellowship, in Intermediate Wolof (Summer 2011)

NCGE/ AAG Excellence in Scholarship Award (2008) 

Phi Beta Kappa (2008)

Outstanding Contribution to Service Learning Award (2008)

Research

Utilizing qualitative/ethnographic methods, I am broadly interested in the conflict between environmental degradation and economic development, as it plays out in West Africa. My dissertation research investigates the negotiations around a controversial zircon and titanium sands mine along the coastline of Casamance, Senegal. I examine how people opposing the mine have used national environmental legislation (e.g. the Senegalese Environmental Code, the creation of Marine Protected Areas) to contest the mine, and how the legal requirement for the acceptance by the "population" has generated and re-opened debates about who may legitimately speak for the community, the district, and the region. Additionally, I examine the way that the Senegalese "state" is performed in a region where separatist tensions have brewed since the 1980s, and how the contradictory interests of the "state" are subdued and reconciled in the debate regarding the mine.

Degrees

Ph.D. Geography (Expected 2017): UCLA

Dissertation: Between a Mine and a Marine Protected Area: Coastal Protection, Economic Development, and the State in Casamance, Senegal

M.A. Anthropology (2012): Columbia University (with Certificate in African Studies)

B.A. Geography (2008): University of Washington

Publications

Fent, A. (2012). Philanthropy and Sovereignty: A Critical Feminist Exploration of the Gates Foundations Approach to Gender and Agricultural Development. Association of Concerned Africa Scholars Bulletin, 88: 4-10. 

Fent, A. (2012). Negotiating Exchange: Instability, Reciprocity, and Food Markets in Dakar, Senegal. Masters Thesis.