1st Edition

Contested Airport Land Social-Spatial Transformation and Environmental Injustice in Asia and Africa

    208 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Contested Airport Land draws attention to the accelerating airport development in the Global South. Empirical studies provide nuanced analysis of social-economic, administrative and political dynamics on the land beyond the airport grounds, such as the project area of Greenfield development, the airport city, or land resources reserved for future airport expansion.

    The authors in this book emphasise why airport construction is a politically sensitive issue in low-income and low-middle income countries, which serve as the last development frontier of the aviation sector. They argue that observed airport development was rather motivated by the perception of airports as engines for national economic growth, while improving air mobility of national populations was not the main driver. Under dominant national development visions, airport-induced dynamics threatened local livelihoods by triggering economies of anticipation, the reconfiguration of land markets, rapid land use changes, a transition from rural to urban livelihoods, the displacement of communities, the perpetuation of human-wildlife conflicts, or inter-ethnic violence. The authors also highlight colonial path dependencies, legal pluralism in land tenure, the hegemonic relations between builders, investors and the affected residents, as well as strategies of local protest movements.

    This book is recommended for readers interested in infrastructure-induced conflicts and environmental injustice.

    List of figures

    List of contributors

    Foreword by Rose Bridger

    Chapter 1: Contested airport lands in the Global South

    Sneha Sharma, Irit Ittner, Isaac Khambule, Sara Mingorría, Hanna Geschewski

    Chapter 2: ‘By now it feels more like a rumour. ’ Navigating the suspended presents and the economy of anticipation for Nepal´s Second International Airport

    Hanna Geschewki

    Chapter 3: The rise of infrastructure-induced Human–Elephant Conflict in Sri Lanka. A case study of Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport

    Menusha Gunasekara, Dishani Senaratne

    Chapter 4: A critical review of airport land contestations in India

    Sneha Sharma

    Chapter 5: Aerotropolis at what cost, to whom? An analysis of social and economic impacts of the New Yogyakarta International Airport in Indonesia

    Ellen Putri Edita

    Chapter 6: The popular appropriation of the airport reserve in Abidjan, Côte d´Ivoire, and strategies to resist displacement

    Irit Ittner

    Chapter 7: The Durban Aerotropolis. Emerging and underlying territorial contestations in South Africa

    Isaac Bheki Khambule 

    Chapter 8: Competing aspirations and contestations at the Isiolo International Airport, Kenya

    Evelyne Atieno Owino, Clifford Collins Omondi Okwany



    Irit Ittner is working as Senior Researcher in the Programme Environmental Governance at the German Institute of Development and Sustainability in Bonn. Her research interests include unplanned urbanisation, land tenure, social navigation, and processes of transformation in coastal West African and European cities. Irit published on the airport land in Abidjan in Afrika Focus (2021), Urban Forum (2022) and Afrique Contemporaine (2023).

    Sneha Sharma works as Junior Project Manager at the ICON Institut in Cologne after having conducted research at the University of Bonn (2015-2022). Her lived experiences growing-up in the busy streets of Kolkata, India, shaped her interest in urban sociology and ethnographic methods. Sneha published Waste(d) collectors. Politics of urban exclusion in India (2022). Her work on spatial transformation, affordable housing and urban renewal in the airport villages of Mumbai were published in Geoforum (2023).

    Isaac Khambule is a Professor of Political Economy at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. He was previously an Associate Professor of Political Economy at the Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand, where he taught Decision-Making in Public Institutions and worked as a Senior Lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Isaac´s research interest is in the relationship between the state, institutions and development, with a particular focus on the role of the state in economic development and the entrepreneurial state.

    Hanna Geschewski is a doctoral researcher at the University of Bergen, Norway. She developed a particular interest in applying concepts from political ecology and social theory to analyse aspects of justice and power asymmetries in changing socio-environments, especially along Global-North-South trajectories. She co-published her research (with M. Islar) on the Second International Airport in the Journal of Political Ecology (2022).