Borderlands, Brokers and War to Peace Transitions in Nepal and Sri Lanka

By Jo Tomkinson|April 14, 2016|Borders, Conflict, Uncategorized|0 comments

Jonathan Goodhand is a Professor Conflict and Development Studies at the SOAS Department of Development Studies.   His research focuses on the political economy of conflict, war to peace transitions and increasingly on the role of borderlands, with a particular focus on South and Central Asia. Oliver Walton is a Lecturer in International Development at the University of Bath in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences. His research focuses on

Read More

Overthrowing Dilma Rousseff: It’s Class War, and Their Class is Winning

By Jo Tomkinson|March 23, 2016|Democracy, Neoliberalism|0 comments

Alfredo Saad Filho is Professor of Political Economy at the SOAS Department of Development Studies. His research interests include the political economy of neoliberalism, industrial policy, alternative macroeconomic policies, and the labour theory of value and its applications. The judicial coup against President Dilma Rousseff is the culmination of the deepest political crisis in Brazil for 50 years. Every so often, the bourgeois political system runs into crisis. The machinery of

Read More

Workshopping Borders – Going Beyond the News Headlines

By Jo Tomkinson|March 2, 2016|Borders, Migration|0 comments

Paolo Novak is a lecturer in the SOAS Department of Development Studies. His research develops at the intersection of borders, migration and development studies, and is concerned with the geography and spatiality of development; border management and interventions; the figures of the migrant and the refugee. Whether you agree or disagree with Etienne Balibar‘s proposition that “borders are everywhere”, border-related workshops certainly are. This is unsurprising as most, if not all,

Read More

Women’s Rights and the Arab Uprisings

By Jo Tomkinson|February 19, 2016|Social movements, Women's rights|0 comments

Ahlem Belhadj is a practitioner and teacher of child psychiatry in Tunisia. She co-founded the Coalition for Sexual and Corporal Rights in Muslim Societies and won the 2012 Simone de Beauvoir Prize. She has authored several books on child psychiatry, the abuse of children and women and women’s rights. She has also been described as ‘The Arab Spring’s Tunisian Heroine’.  In December 2015 Ahlem Belhadi gave a lecture in the

Read More

A Brief History of ISIS

By Jo Tomkinson|December 22, 2015|Conflict, Neoliberalism, Uncategorized|0 comments

Adam Hanieh is a Senior Lecturer in the SOAS Department of Development Studies. He is the author of the 2013 book Lineages of Revolt: Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East. His research interests include political economy of the Middle East, labour migration, class and state formation in the Gulf Cooperation Council and Palestine.  ISIS emerged out of the dashed hopes of the Arab Spring In the wake of the

Read More

Brazilian Democracy in Distress: Unpacking Dilma Rousseff’s Impeachment

By Jo Tomkinson|December 17, 2015|Democracy, Neoliberalism, Uncategorized|2 comments

Alfredo Saad Filho is Professor of Political Economy at the SOAS Department of Development Studies. His research interests include the political economy of neoliberalism, industrial policy, alternative macroeconomic policies, and the labour theory of value and its applications. Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies has opened impeachment procedures against President Dilma Rousseff, of the Workers’ Party (PT). This manoeuvre is led by an unholy coalition of opportunistic politicians, grubby businessmen, ravenous financiers,

Read More

Venezuela’s Chavismo at a Crossroads after Landslide Opposition Victory

By Jo Tomkinson|December 13, 2015|Democracy, Uncategorized|0 comments

Ryan Brading is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Development Studies at SOAS. He is author of the 2013 book Populism in Venezuela. His research interests include populist politics in Latin America and East Asia. December elections leave Chavismo in disarray The death of the charismatic President Hugo Chávez in March 2013 left an emotional, political and institutional vacuum in Venezuela. Chávez’s fiery rhetoric and alpha male persona captured

Read More

Will the TPP be Good for Workers in Vietnam?

By Jo Tomkinson|December 12, 2015|Labour, Uncategorized|0 comments

Joe Buckley studied the MSc Labour, Social Movements and Development programme at SOAS from 2012-2013. He is currently a PhD candidate in the SOAS Department of Development Studies, researching labour informalisation in Vietnam. He Tweets at @JoeJBBuckley. International trade deals are often condemned because of the effect they will have on workers’ wages, conditions, and bargaining power. In America, Democrat party members and trade unionists are currently campaigning against the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Read More

Why Development Defines India’s Elections Today

By Jo Tomkinson|December 6, 2015|Democracy, Uncategorized|2 comments

Subir Sinha is Senior Lecturer in Institutions and Development in the SOAS Department of Development Studies.  His recent research has focused on decentralised development in India, early postcolonial planning, and on the global fishworkers’ movement. He Tweets at @PoMoGandhi. Social science wisdom has long held that Indian elections are determined by ‘primoridial’ collective identities of caste, religion and region. Certainly, all political parties combine these elements in their election calculus, from

Read More

High-tech Oranges and Big Pharma Blueberries: Industrialising Freshness in Global Agriculture

By Jo Tomkinson|December 4, 2015|Agriculture, Uncategorized|3 comments

Christopher Cramer is Professor of the Political Economy of Development at the SOAS Department of Development Studies. His recent work has included the DfID funded project Fairtrade, Employment and Poverty Reduction in Ethiopia and Uganda.

I recently asked the owner of a blueberry producing firm in South Africa whether he would consider the packet of fresh plump blueberries on the table between us a manufactured product. After all, the berries embodied the technology of genetic variety development (in California), carefully monitored planting, weeding, spraying and advanced irrigation technology, not to mention post-harvest care and packaging. ‘More than that’, he said, rolling a blueberry between his fingers ‘this is a pill – blueberries are part of big pharma’. With their superfood kudos, blueberries get the company a lot of free advertising.

So a blueberry is a high-tech pharmaceutical product, a pill. Meanwhile, a fresh orange bought in a Europe or the US has more technology embedded within in it, is higher value, and is more ‘processed’ in some respects, than a carton of orange juice squashed from poorer quality oranges.

Globally, agriculture is not only big business – it is also industrial business. It encompasses the increasing use of the genetics of plant stock, water-saving micro and nano irrigation, waste-reducing targeted nutrient supply and pesticide application and post-harvest ‘ripening facilities’. It also entails the need for new IT systems to monitor and ensure traceability of every batch of avocados, macadamia nuts or oranges to meet demanding phyto-sanitary regulations, the complex logistics and infrastructure of packhouses, ports and airport cold storage, as well as sophisticated advances in packaging, labelling, and branding. All these processes and technologies amount to the industrialisation of freshness.