Current Research Projects

Hunger in a Globalizing World

Achieving world food security has long been a major objective of international cooperation and a focus of international and regional institution building and development policy. In the present era, there has been a renewed centrality of food security to global governance, especially in the context of agricultural trade liberalization, developments in biotechnology, climate change and most recently because of multiple global food price crises. This research project examines the politics of global food security governance. While the United Nations (UN) system has traditionally been responsible for addressing world hunger, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has emerged as a major site of global food security governance. As a result, the UN and WTO now share authority over the global governance of food security. There are major tensions between these two regimes, with WTO trade rules making agriculture and food increasingly subject to market forces, while, in sharp contrast, the UN advances a human rights approach to food and a greater role for states and deeper constraints on the market. My research shows that the WTO’s expanding authority over food security has prompted a counter-movement by the UN system, with actors embedded in UN institutions actively seeking to shape WTO trade rules in an attempt to limit the negative impacts of trade liberalization on the global food insecure. I am presently writing a monograph based on this research.

The Global Political Economy of Raúl Prebisch

This edited book project offers an original analysis of global political economy by examining it through the ideas, agency and influence of Raúl Prebisch. Raúl Prebisch (1901-1986) was one of the most important thinkers, leaders and personalities of the global political economy in the second half of the 20th century. His ground-breaking ideas as an economist – the “Prebisch-Singer” terms of trade thesis and the case for import-substitution industrialization (ISI) – changed the world as these ideas were adopted as the foundational core of economic development policies in the Global South. First, as the director of the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) in the 1950s and then later as the founding Director General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Prebisch was on the frontlines of defining North-South political struggles to remake the world economy at the height of the Cold War; his leadership at the UN fostered the ideational basis (through economic studies and policy proposals) and institutional legitimacy for the South’s claim for a fairer global distribution of wealth and resources. Prebisch’s legacy and long-term influence is profound. Successive generations of Southern intellectual and political leaders’ understandings of the problems of and solutions to economic development continue to be shaped by Prebisch’s work. At the global institutional level, for example, the system of Generalized System of Preferences (GSPs) created by UNCTAD under Prebisch’s leadership continues to serve as the basis for developing countries’ preferential access to Northern markets. Prebisch was pivotal in fostering networks and global policy spaces for the development and circulation of heterodox and alternative approaches to the study of the world economy that remain influential today; more specifically, these spaces were among the first to create opportunities for global civil society engagement and established the agenda for regulating transnational corporations. The Global Political Economy of Raúl Prebisch will be published by Routledge RIPE Series in early 2017.

Agricultural Land Use Planning in Canada

This research project is part of a multi-year collaborative project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). This project seeks to determine if changing social values and attitudes towards food and agriculture are translating into change in public policy processes. We focus on three policy regimes in Canada: food sovereignty, land preservation, and international competitiveness. My contribution to this project is to examine whether transnational conceptions of food sovereignty are being institutionalized in land use policy at the federal and provincial levels and if this contributes to more inclusive and beneficial land use outcomes. For more information visit: Agricultural Land Use Planning in Canada Project