Robert Pijpers

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Academic interests

Natural Resource Extraction, Globalisation, Poverty and Livelihood Strategies, Land Use, Land-Acquisitions.

Regional Interest: Africa, Sierra Leone

Personal background

Robert Pijpers has a BA (2009) and MA (2010) degree in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Leiden University.  His MA research focused on diamond miners´ livelihood startegies and the multifaceted relationships between different stakeholders in the diamond mining sector in Sierra Leone. After his MA, Robert conducted fieldwork in Ghana, South Africa and Kenya on natural resource extraction and large-scale agriculture. In 2012, he started his PhD research ‘Hot-spots: land and the three crises of globalization in up-country Sierra Leone’ at the Social Anthropology Institute, University of Oslo.

Robert is the co-founder and co-coordinator of two academic networks focused on resource extraction; the AEGIS Collaborative Working Group ´Resource Extraction in Africa´ and the EASA Network ´Anthropology of Mining´. In 2016 he founded, a website focused on the dissemination of social science research on natural resource extraction.

PhD project

Hot-spots. Due to an increasing transnational interest in land, various areas in developing countries are becoming hotspots, contested spaces characterized by accelerated change and a growing density of activities of claims. This research aims to scrutinize such a hot-spot: the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. The area is extremely vibrant, full of expectations, disappointments, hope and crises.

In the past, Sierra Leone has experienced periods of economic growth, but after a long civil war the country entered the 21st century destroyed and impoverished, with a dwindling economy depending on subsistence-level livelihoods. Situated in this context, the area under study has become the stage of an increasing transnational interest for land, leading to a heightened pressure on land. The project will focus on two large-scale land-acquisitions that epitomize transnational developments in the area. Leading research questions are focused on the local articulations of the three crisis of globalization, as presented in the ‘Overheating’ research project led by prof. T.H. Eriksen. Notions of value, power and the future will be critical in the analysis.

Please visit for more information about my PhD research and the Overheating research project.


Tags: Sierra Leone, Africa, Land, Mining


Luning, S. & Pijpers, R.J. (forthcoming 2017). Governing access to gold in Ghana: in-depth geopolitics on mining concessions. Africa.

Pijpers, R.J. (2016). Box 2: The pitfalls of data collection – reflections from Sierra Leone. In Nolte, K.; Chamberlain, W.; Giger, M. (eds). International Land Deals for Agriculture. Fresh insights from the Land Matrix: Analytical Report II. Bern, Montpellier, Hamburg, Pretoria: Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern; Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement; German Institute of Global and Area Studies; University of Pretoria; Bern Open Publishing.

Pijpers, R.J. (2016). Politics of localness: claiming gains in rural Sierra Leone. In Eriksen, T.H. & Schober, E. (eds). Identity destabilised: Living in an overheated world. Pluto Press.

Pijpers, R.J. (2016). Mining, expectations and turbulent times: locating accelerated change in rural Sierra Leone. History & Anthropology.

Pijpers, R.J. (2014). Crops and Carats: Exploring the Interconnectedness of Mining and Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa. Futures.

Pijpers, R.J. (2011). When diamonds go bust: contextualizing livelihood changes in rural Sierra Leone. Journal of International Development 23: 1068–1079.

Pijpers, R.J. (2010). Busting diamonds, booming gold: crisis, gender and money in the Sierra Leone mining sector. In: Panella C. (eds.) Worlds of Debts: Gold Mining in West Africa as an Interdisciplinary Field of Study. Amsterdam. Rozenberg Publishers.


Online Publications

Pijpers, R.J. (2014). Songs of ignorance. Published at

Pijpers, R.J. (2015). Trust lies at the heart of making economic recovery more equitable for Sierra Leone after Ebola. Published by The Conversation ( and republished by AllAfrica (

In addition, several blogs appeared on our project website

Published Nov. 1, 2012 10:20 AM - Last modified Nov. 17, 2016 9:42 AM