A blog produced by the Rural transformations research group at the Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo.

Terra Nullius is dedicated to disseminating activities and research related to our research group, rendering visible ideas, conflicts, frictions and movements taking place in so-called “rural areas” of the world. This suggests recognizing the influence and various connections of the rural on urban space – tracing the emergence of new spaces of rural/urban enmeshment. 

Contribute to our blog

Mainly offering works by members of our research group, we also invite friends and colleagues to write in a format that does not follow the conventional type of academic publications. We publish work-in-progress or tentative findings pieces, as well as reflections about fieldwork, methodologies, book reviews and so on. We welcome experimental pieces and provocations.

We are committed to publishing texts that are accessible to an interdisciplinary audience but also to the wider public. We will maintain clearly written and accessible contributions.

We publish blogs in Spanish, Norwegian and English in the following categories: Essays, commentary, reviews and notes from the field.

  • Essays are our long texts (Max. 800-1,600 words all included) presenting reflections from members of our research group
  • Commentary are shorter texts (Max. 500-800 words) about current events
  • Book reviews (and other reviews, art, films etc 800-1500 words)
  • Notes from the field (500-1000 words reflections from our fieldwork/methodologies)
  • All citations should be hyperlinked (or in some circumstances put into endnotes)

Send your contributions to mariel.stoen@sum.uio.no or k.b.nielsen@sai.uio.no. We do not accept anonymous contributions.


Terra Nullius literally means “land that belongs to no one”. The term comes from the Papal Bull Terra Nullius issued by Pope Urban II in 1095 at the beginning of the Crusades. This religious decree allowed European princes and kings to “discover” or claim any land occupied by non-Christian peoples in any part of the known or yet-to-be-known world.

As is widely recognized, this ideology translated both into a legal term and a cultural project leading to conquest and colonization, resulting in genocide, ecocide as well as various and evolving forms of slavery. The socio-cultural patterns, memories and histories of all land-centred populations have been confronted and continue to be reconfigured on a trajectory towards assimilation and, consequently, erasure.

Terra Nullius emerges among the twisted roots of the tree of ecological catastrophe, climate change and socio-economic crisis that must cease. By choosing this name - Terra Nullius: Re-possessing the Existent - we want to reclaim and re-appropriate that which exists in what appears to be “the margins” but which in reality is currently at the center of capital expansion, widespread dispossession and resistance. These lands, these rural spaces, do indeed “belong to no one” – no one but those who live there, connect with the land and defend their ways of life.

This is an effort at composting the legacy of Terra Nullius to open discussion and space to project new revelations, discussions and positions based on our lived experience and research.

The contents of the blog do not necessarily represent the research group Rural Transformations or the Centre for Development and the Environment.

Farm land

About Terra Nullius

This blog disseminates activities and research rendering visible ideas, conflicts, frictions and movements taking place in so-called “rural areas” of the world. The blog is produced by the research group Rural transformations in the new century. Read more about our blog here.