The Risk Frontier: Perceiving Social Transformations in Rural and Peri-urban West Africa Through a Territorial Lens

  • Karsten SchulzEmail author
  • Rapti Siriwardane


Addressing the distinct overemphasis on rural agricultural spaces that undergirds much of the literature on local riskscapes in West Africa, the chapter seeks to elucidate how households that live on the fringes of rapidly transforming peri-urban spaces are caught in a double bind of institutional and spatial marginality. Drawing on a comparative empirical study in northern Ghana, the chapter argues that peri-urban households are facing socio-environmental risks that are similar to those experienced by their rural counterparts, while at the same time being subjected to interrelated institutional and material transformations which define such spaces as dynamic risk frontiers. In order to compare the institutional dynamics between rural and peri-urban territories, the study advances a ‘territorialization of risk’ framework that explores the social production of risk against the backdrop of changing institutional and communal structures.


Territorialization Risk Communal reliance Social transformation West Africa 



This research was financially supported through a fieldwork grant from the Dr. Hermann Eiselen Doctoral Programm of the Foundation fiat panis and by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the project WaterPower (reference number 01 LN 1316 A). Moreover, we thank the West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) for their generous logistical support.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Governance & Sustainability Lab, Faculty of Regional & Environmental SciencesUniversity of TrierTrierGermany
  2. 2.Working Group Development & Knowledge SociologyLeibniz Center for Tropical Marine EcologyBremenGermany

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