Book review of Nandini Sundar’s The Burning Forest

By Safa Joudeh|August 17, 2017|Conflict, Democracy, Forced displacement, Journal of Agrarian Change, Neoliberalism, Political ecology, State in development|0 comments

This post is written by Christian Lund who is Professor of Development, Resource Management, and Governance, at the Department of Food and Resource Economics, at Copenhagen University. It is part of the Journal of Agrarian Change blog, hosted on the Development Studies at SOAS blog. The Burning Forest. India’s War in Bastar, by Nandini Sundar. Delhi: Juggernaut, 2016. Pp. 413+xvi. ₹ (Indian Rupees) 699 (cloth). ISBN 978-93-8622-800-0. Terror is at the heart

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What Does Trump Mean for Sub-Saharan Africa?

By Jo Tomkinson|November 22, 2016|Aid, Civil society, Neoliberalism|0 comments

Michael Jennings is a Head of Department and Senior Lecturer in the SOAS Department of Development Studies. His research interests include the politics and history of development processes in sub-Saharan Africa; governance, civil society, non-governmental organisations and faith-based organisations; and social aspects of health in Africa. On the scale of some of the things that emerged from the mouth of now US president-elect Donald Trump on the campaign scale, allegedly calling

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When Human Trafficking Becomes a Weapon of War

By Jo Tomkinson|July 7, 2016|Conflict|0 comments

Emma Saville (MSc Violence, Conflict and Development 2014) is the Education Programme Manager at PositiveNegatives. Emma’s book, Human Trafficking as a Weapon of War: Sudan a Case Study, has recently been published. She tweets from @_EmmaSaville_. An estimated 35.8 million persons are thought to be currently enslaved worldwide. Human trafficking is a fundamental violation of human rights that has been referred to by some as a form of ‘modern-day slavery’ (see

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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

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Gates Unlocked: is the Gates Foundation Really that Bad?

By Jo Tomkinson|February 8, 2016|Civil society, Health|0 comments

Michael Jennings is a Senior Lecturer in the SOAS Department of Development Studies. His research interests include the politics and history of development processes in sub-Saharan Africa; governance, civil society, non-governmental organisations and faith-based organisations; and social aspects of health in Africa. This article is an abridged version of a post which first appeared on Michael Jennings’ Africa, Development and Politics blog. In a recent foray away from the usual Facebook

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Valletta Summit: Aid For Africa Is Not the Solution to the Refugee Crisis

By Jo Tomkinson|December 4, 2015|Migration, Uncategorized|0 comments

Laura Hammond is a Reader in Development Studies and Head of Department at the SOAS Department of Development Studies. Her research interests include food security, conflict, forced migration and diasporas.

Giving more development aid to Africa may be a good idea, but the proposition that it will be an effective way of stemming the flow of migrants out of Africa towards Europe is deeply flawed.

At the recent Valletta Migration Summit between European and African leaders in Malta, the European Union announced the establishment of an Emergency Trust Fund for Africa to promote stability and to address the root causes of irregular migration and displacement. The EU has pledged 1.8 billion euros ($1.9 billion) and has asked member states to make additional contributions to match that amount.

The funds are to be spent on an array of activities including generating employment opportunities, reintegrating returnees, providing basic services for local populations, and promoting environmental sustainability. Money will also be directed at law enforcement, border management, containing and preventing irregular migration, combatting trafficking and smuggling and countering radicalisation and extremism.