I am a Lecturer in Environment and Development at the University of Reading, United Kingdom.
I am concerned with uncovering and understanding the conditions that lead to, or prevent, social-ecological transformations, and the dynamics of social-ecological change in different places. I engage with issues of sustainability, resilience and transformation of agricultural systems, alternative economies and grassroots innovations for sustainability, degrowth, and social change theories and sustainability.
Place-based social, cultural, institutional and political dynamics not only influence the innovation capacity of agricultural systems, but also the willingness of relevant actors to be involved in participatory research processes, and the dynamics of their participation. This paper critically discusses the modification and application of one particular participatory approach to agricultural systems analysis (Rapid Appraisal of Agricultural Innovation Systems [RAAIS]) to agricultural adaptation in Southeast Kazakhstan. We consider the overall effectiveness of the method as a research tool, practical issues in the implementation of workshops, definition of and selection of participant groups, as well as the questions of participation and empowerment within the workshops themselves. We find that [read more]
In the Colombian Andes, peasants have co-evolved with their environment for centuries, but it is uncertain whether traditional informal institutions and natural models are adapting to current and possibly unprecedented economic and climatic disturbances. This study investigated institutional adaptation and the social mechanisms of institutional change or continuity among peasants in the Eastern Andean Cordillera. The research was informed by evolutionary theories of institutional change and based on a qualitative approach that included data collected through a focus group, oral histories, key informant interviews and observations. This study suggests that reciprocal work exchanges, festivities and gender-based divisions of roles have been disused or changed due to economic pressures, but that most informal institutions have persisted due to selective outmigration, conformist intergenerational transmission, and practices of everyday resistance. [read more]
Resilience in the rural Andes: Critical dynamics, constraints and emerging opportunities. Regional Environmental Change, 16(8):2163–2169, with Diana Sietz, Wageningen University.
This Special Issue aims to improve our understanding of the key dynamics of socio-ecological systems that constrain or foster resilience in the rural Andes. The Special Issue, published in the journal Regional Environmental Change, comprises six papers that investigate three core features of resilience in a variety of socio-ecological systems: diversity, connectivity and development models. The novel insights into resilience dynamics include specific features related to the high-mountain contexts and socio-political tensions in the Andes. Future research can build on this knowledge to further not only resilience theory but also methodological approaches which reflect both case-specific and generic complexity. [read more]
The diffusion of the Transition Network in four European countries. Environment and Planning A, 48(11):2112-2115, with Mina R. Him [Open access here]
The Transition Network exemplifies the potential of social movements to create spaces of possibility for alternatives to emerge in the interstices of mainstream, neoliberal economies. Yet, little work has been carried out so far on the Transition Network or other grassroots innovations for sustainability in a way that reveals their actual patterns of diffusion. This graphic of the diffusion of the Transition Network visualises its spatial structure and compare diffusion patterns across Italy, France, Great Britain and Germany. The graphics show that the number of transition initiatives in the four countries has steadily increased over the past eight years, but the rate of increase has slowed down in all countries. The maps clearly show that in all four countries the diffusion of the Transition Network has not been spatially even. The graphic suggests that in each country transition initiatives are more likely to emerge in some geographical areas (hotspots) than in others (cold spots). While the existence of a spatial structure of the Transition Network may result from the combination of place-specific factors and diffusion mechanisms, these graphics illustrate the importance of better comprehending where grassroots innovations emerge. [read more]
Transition in Place: Dynamics, Possibilities, and Constraints. Geoforum, 76:153-163, with Emily Nicolosi.
The Transition Movement is a translocal phenomenon circulated through transnational grassroots networks. This study explores the geographies of the Transition Movement with a theoretical framework that perceives it as both a social movement and a grassroots innovation. Participant-observation of Transition Salt Lake (TSL), located in the suburban metropolis of Salt Lake City, Utah, was conducted, as the United States remains a largely understudied country in regards to this particular movement. In this pursuit, we asked: (i) how and what this transition initiative draws from geographically extensive and intensive relations, (ii) how it combines place-specific elements and generalized models (embeddedness), and (iii) how this impacts the success of the transition initiative and how these impacts (positive or negative) are generated. Place, space, and scale played a large role in defining the nature, dynamics, possibilities, and constraints of this transition initiative. [read more]
New article (in open access journal): The Vulnerability of Rice Value Chains in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review. Climate, 4(3):47, with Fanen Terdoo.