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Department of Geography

Benedikt Korf
Benedikt Korf, Prof. Dr.

Political Geography

Tel.: 044 635 52 40
Room number: Y25 L 54


violence, politics, dis/order, frontier, territory, political theology; South Asia, Horn of Africa



MA in Geography, RWTH Aachen

Diplom (M.Sc.) in Civil Engineering, RWTH Aachen

Postgraduate Certificate, Seminar für Ländliche Entwicklung (SLE), HU Berlin

PhD in Agricultural Sciences, HU Berlin


Current Research

My research falls in the fields of development geography, political geography and cultural geography. I understand the cultural as a constitutive force of political economy: my research studies “culture” as a terrain of struggle wherein the political fabrication of territories and the articulation of collective life are contested and negotiated in sites that experience political disorder and protracted violence. My research follows an ethnographic disposition with field work in South Asia and the Horn of Africa. Two themes have been central in my work: first, I have investigated the cultural politics of development, post-war reconstruction and post-disaster transformations in Sri Lanka (and South Asia more broadly). Second, my work has been concerned with the cultural politics of resource violence in the Horn of Africa, where I have looked at pastoral communities and their strategies to cope with political crisis, persistent violence and environmental degradation. I currently consolidate, deepen and expand this agenda around the concept of the frontier. Through a comparison of different frontier cases in a variety of countries (Borneo, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Tibet, eastern Congo), I seek to retrieve the spatial politics of land appropriation and dispossession in the Global South.


Recent Key Publications

Regassa, A, Hizekiel, Y, Korf, B, 2018, in press: “Civilizing” the pastoral frontier. Land dispossession, coercive development and the political economy of sedentarization in Ethiopia. Journal of Peasant Studies. DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2017.1420060.

Korf, B, Raeymeaekers, T, Schetter, C, Watts, M, 2018, Geographies of Limited Statehood. In: T. Börzel and T Risse (eds.) The Oxford Handbook on Governance and Limited Statehood. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 167-187.

Côte, M, Korf, B, 2018, Making concessions: Extractive enclaves, entangled capitalism and the gold mining frontier in Burkina Faso. World Development 101 (C), 466-476.

Korf, B, Hagmann, T, Emmenegger, R, 2015, Re-spacing African Drylands: territorialisation, sedentarization and indigeneous commodification in the Ethiopian pastoral frontier. Journal of Peasant Studies 42 (5), 881-901.

Korf, B, Schetter, C, eds, 2015, Geographien der Gewalt. (=Teubner Studienbücher zur Geographie), Borntraeger, Stuttgart.

Byrne, S, Nightingale, A, Korf, B, 2016: Making Territory: War, post-war and the entangled scales of contested forest governance in mid-Western Nepal. Development and Change 47 (6), 1269-1293.

Hasbullah, SH, Korf, B, 2013, Muslim geographies, violence and the politics of community in eastern Sri Lanka. Geographical Journal 179 (1), 32-43.

Korf, B, Raeymaekers, T, eds, 2013, Violent Frontiers: States and Violence in the Borderlands. Palgrave-Macmillan, New York (African Borderlands Serices = ABORNE).

Featherstone, D, Korf, B and J van Wezemael, eds, (2012): Space, contestation and the political. Themed issue in: Geoforum 43 (4), 663-731.

Korf, B, 2011, Resources, violence and the telluric geographies of small wars. Progress in Human Geography, 35(6), 733–756.