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 and sustainability theories .
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 find that [continue reading...]
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. 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. [continue reading...]
Dec 2016. New blog post. Special issue: Resilience in the rural Andes.
The Andes present an ideal learning space to draw lessons on existing and emerging resilience challenges and opportunities. Andean people and societies have [continue reading...]
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. [continue reading...]
Nov 2016. New article: 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 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). [continue reading...]
Oct 2016. New article: 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. [continue reading...]
Sep 2016. New blog post. Why do farmers behave the way they do and make the decisions they make?
Climate change, volatile prices, changing consumption patterns, and increasing competition for agricultural land makes the hard business of farming even more challenging. How do we make our farming systems sustainable and resilient? In search for the answer to this question, we tend to focus on inputs and outputs, forgetting about the people who are at the center of the issue. However, perhaps it is the understanding of farmer behavior that can fill in the gaps in our search for sustainable farming solutions that will work on the ground. [continue reading...]
Sep 2016. 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.
Rice is one of the most important food crops in sub-Saharan Africa.
Climate change, variability, and economic globalization threatens to
disrupt rice value chains across the subcontinent, undermining their
important role in economic development, food security, and poverty
reduction. This paper maps existing research on the vulnerability of
rice value chains, synthesizes the evidence and the risks posed by
climate change and economic globalization, and discusses agriculture and
rural development policies and their relevance for the vulnerability of
rice value chains in sub-Saharan Africa. Important avenues for future
research are identified. These include the impacts of multiple,
simultaneous pressures on rice value chains, the effects of climate
change and variability on parts of the value chain other than
production, and the forms and extent to which different development
policies hinder or enhance the resilience of rice value chains in the
face of climatic and other pressures.