Appropriating the commons: tea estates and conflict over water in Southern Malawi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


One of the lasting physical legacies of colonialism in Southern Malawi are tea estates. In Mulanje District, tea estates take at least 30% of the land (Nangoma & Nangoma, 2013). While much of the contestation between these tea estates and communities in the district has been over land, water is another resource whose control appears to be a potential for future contestation. Building on my fieldwork in Mulanje District, I aim to highlight how the control over water in the district is an issue that is built on colonisation and perpetuates colonial structures. Tea estates are the most dominating structures that have sought to impose colonial knowledges of water on the people of the area. In so doing, they control and regulate the use of the water resources. Colonial green crimes here are manifest in the erasure of local knowledge of water. They are further highlighted in the control of what the community has long regarded as a common. I further highlight how the impacts of climate change on water availability threaten to worsen the precarious situation of local people as the demand for water, which is reducing in volume, will increase especially among the tea estates as they ramp up on irrigation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGreen crime in the global South
Subtitle of host publicationessays on Southern green criminology
EditorsDavid Rodrigues Goyes
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9783031277542
ISBN (Print)9783031277535, 9783031277566
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

Publication series

NamePalgrave studies in green criminology (PSGC)
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


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