Global Development, Justice and Livelihoods

John Connell, Robert Fisher, Phil Hirsch, Yayoi Lagerqvist, Jeff Neilson, Bill Pritchard

A central concern of geographers is to explain patterns and processes of uneven global development. How are poverty and prosperity manifested across space? Why is inequality such a salient feature of the contemporary world? And most importantly, what can be done to improve the livelihood prospects of the world’s poor and marginalised communities?

These pertinent questions are examined at various spatial scales. Geographers working in this research area study the changing structures of the contemporary global economy, and its articulation through global value chains and production networks. The processes through which countries and regions are integrated into the global economy are key drivers of uneven development. Global integration has also meant that many countries in the Global South are experiencing profound structural transformations, as agriculture becomes a less important contributor towards GDP. Yet, rural populations continue to make up the majority of many countries’ populations and to rely on agriculture for part of all of their livelihoods, and the politics of land and natural resource access continue to be volatile and contentious issues. Understanding contemporary agrarian transformations is therefore a critical research theme. This involves examining the livelihood strategies of poor households in the Global South, as they become diversified to include combinations of farming, off-farm rural income and mainly urban-oriented migration. Household livelihood strategies, and the broader structural constraints of economic development, ultimately determine the vulnerability of individuals to hunger and undernourishment, as food insecurity continues to be a significant global challenge, and a key research area.

Geographers at the University of Sydney are actively engaged with global issues of development and justice, and are currently working on projects in such diverse countries as Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Vanuatu, and Vietnam. Fieldwork in these countries is an important part of what geographers at Sydney do, and our academic staff speak various regional languages, including Hindi, Nepali, Indonesian, Khmer, Lao, Thai, Tok Pisin (New Guinea Pidgin), and Vietnamese.

Associated units of study

Unit of Study Name
GEOS2121 Environmental and Resource Management
GEOS3524 Global Development and Livelihoods
GEOS3053 Southeast Asia Field School
GEOS3055 Asia Pacific Field Studies in Geography
ENVI5801 Social Science of the Environment
ENVI5903 Sustainable Development
Immersion Program in Indonesia Semester long Geography Immersion Program in Indonesia

Global Value Chains and Production Networks

The global economy has undergone significant restructuring in recent decades. This is evident in the rise of global outsourcing, new international divisions of labour, increased trade in intermediate products, and the strategic coordinating role of Multinational Corporations (MNCs). This research program seeks to explain the drivers and process involved in these changes, and to examine the implications these processes for globally uneven development. This is undertaken predominately through the analytical frameworks of global value chains (GVCs) and Global Production Networks (GPNs).


CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS

  1. 2014-2018: Evaluating smallholder livelihoods and sustainability in Indonesian coffee and cocoa value chains, (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research –ACIAR)
  2. 2015-2016: Contemporary trends in international Agri-food investment and food security in Southeast Asia (Sydney Southeast Asia Centre)
  3. 2015-2016: Food Processing and value Chain Development in Indonesia, (Australia Indonesia Centre)


KEY PUBLICATIONS

  • Neilson, J., Pritchard, B. and Yeung, H. Eds (2015). Global Value Chains and Global Production Networks: Changes in the International Political Economy, Routledge, London. ISBN: 978-1-13-884956-3
  • Neilson, J. and Pritchard, B (2009). Value Chain Struggles: Institutions and Governance in the Plantation Districts of South India, Blackwell, Oxford. ISBN: 9781405173926.
  • Fold, N. and Neilson, J (2015). Sustaining supplies in smallholder dominated value chains: Corporate Governance of the global cocoa sector, The Economics of Chocolate, (eds M. P. Squicciarini, and J. Swinnen) Oxford University Press, Oxford
  • Neilson, J. (2014). Value chains, neoliberalism and development practice: the Indonesian experience, Review of International Political Economy. 21(1). 38-69.
  • Neilson, J. Pritchard, B. and Yeung, H. (2014). Global value chains and global production networks in the changing international political economy: An introduction, Review of International Political Economy. 21(1). 1-8.
  • Neilson, J. (2008). Global private regulation and value-chain restructuring in Indonesian smallholder coffee systems, World Development, 36 (9), 1607-1622.


CURRENT POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH STUDENTS

Name Research
Joshua Bray (MSc) Evaluation of smallholder livelihoods and sustainability in Indonesian coffee and cocoa value chains
Hiswaty Hafid (PhD) Restructuring of the cocoa value chain and livelihood implication: Case study of private sustainability programs in Indonesia
Albert Hasudungan (PhD) Political ecology of palm oil development: Case study in Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan
Rafiuddin Palinrungi (PhD) The Dynamic of Cocoa Industry Upgrading in Indonesia
Leonardo Valenzuela (PhD) Actor-Network Theory; Atmospheres and Moralities; Geographies of Copper; Ecology of Practices; Histories of Chilean Development
Mark Vicol (PhD) Global value chains and local livelihoods: The evolution of ‘privileged’ spaces in rural India


RECENT POSTGRADUATE THESES

Name Thesis
Diany Hartatri (MSc) Indonesia value chain structures and smallholders' livelihoods: A case study of specialty coffee development interventions (supervisor - Dr Jeff Neilson). April 2015.


RECENT HONOURS THESES

Name Thesis
Aran Hirsch (2013) Elastic Value Chains? Institutional change and smallholder development prospects in Thailand’s natural rubber industry
Alexander Meekin (2013) Hot Chocolate! `Cocoa Industry Development' in Indonesia
Felicity Shonk (2012) Coffee, Buffalo and Remittances: Livelihoods and development in North Toraja, Indonesia
Tula Mount (2012) “Peak Chocolate? Unpacking Sustainability in Indonesia’s cocoa Industry”

Food and Nutrition Security

The world produces enough food to hypothetically feed everyone, but around 800 million people worldwide remain undernourished. Geographers have a unique vantage point in addressing this vital global concern, because of their interest in identifying the governance frameworks, social structures and biophysical environments that connect people to food systems. At the University of Sydney, a research program on the geographies of food security has involved a series of major funded projects focusing primarily on South and Southeast Asia, with particular reference to how changing natural resource environment and rural livelihood systems are connecting/ disconnecting vulnerable populations from food.


CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS

  1. 2010-2014: ARC Discovery Project 'Institutions for Food Security: Global Insights from Rural India'
  2. 2014-2016: ARC Discovery Project 'Farmers of the Future: Challenges emerging from a Feminised Agriculture in India'
  3. 2015-17: ARC Discovery Project, ‘Explaining Food and Nutrition Insecurity under Conditions of Rapid Economic and Social Change: A Nutrition-Sensitive Analysis of Livelihood Decision-making in rural Myanmar’
  4. 2012-2015: ACIAR, ‘Facilitating livelihood adaptation to hydrological change and natural resource pressures in Lao PDR’
  5. Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, ‘Improving communication of food security and livelihood adaptation research through writeshops: building academic writing capacity of Southeast Asian researchers’ (2014-2015)
  6. 2015-2016, Contemporary trends in international Agri-food investment and food security in Southeast Asia (SSEAC)


KEY PUBLICATIONS

  • Pritchard, B., Rammohan, A., Sekher, M., Parasuraman, S. & Choithani, C. (2014) Feeding India: Livelihoods, Entitlements and Capabilities, Routledge, London.
  • Connell, J (2015) Food Security in the Island Pacific: Is Micronesia As Far Away As Ever?, Regional Environmental Change
  • Pritchard, B. (2014) The problem of higher food prices for impoverished people in the rural global South, Australian Geographer 45 (4), pp. 419-27
  • Rammohan, A. & Pritchard, B. (2014) The role of landholding as a determinant of food and nutrition insecurity in rural Myanmar, World Development, 64, pp. 597-608.
  • Pritchard, B., Rammohan, A., & Sekher, M. (2013) Food security as a lagging component of India’s human development: A function of interacting entitlement failures, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 36 (2), pp. 213-28.
  • Neilson, J. and Arifin, B. (2012). Food Security and the de-agrarianisation of the Indonesian Economy, Food Systems Failure: The Global Food Crisis and the Future of Agriculture, (Dr. Christopher Rosin, C., Campbell, H., and Stock, P. eds) Earthscan / Routledge , London. 147-165.
  • Pritchard, B. (2012) Trading into hunger? Trading out of hunger? International food trade and the debate on food security, in Rosin, C., Stock, P. & Campbell, H. (eds) Food Systems Failure: The Global Food Crisis and the Future of Agriculture, Earthscan, London, pp. 46-59.


CURRENT POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH STUDENTS

TBA


RECENT POSTGRADUATE THESES

Name Thesis
Chetan Choithani (PhD) Does migration impact household food and nutritional security outcomes? Empirical insights from rural India


RECENT HONOURS THESES

Name Thesis
Madeleine D’Arcy (2013) Away from Subsistence. Food Security and Resource Use on Paama island, Vanuatu
Sai Sowmya Bysani (2015) Conceptualising the politics and interventions of food security NGOs working in Hyderabad, India
Sandra Fritz (Grad Dip, 2014-15) Improving food security through Sustainable Agricultural Intensification (SAI) in Timor Leste
Melissa McCullough (Grad Dip, 2015-16) Is the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa consistent with the principles of food security and the Green Economy? A case study of northern Ghana

Agrarian Transformations, Land and Livelihoods

The profound structural shift involving agriculturally-dependent rural societies becoming predominantly urbanized, industrialized and market-based is one of the most significant processes of social change affecting humanity. For many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the challenges of adjusting to such agrarian transformations are of immense contemporary relevance. This research program explores these transformations primarily through a livelihoods approach, analysing the changing nature of rural livelihoods, the shifting importance of farming, migration, and off-farm rural income and the role of small-scale trade. Despite a declining overall importance of agriculture to many economies, access to land and the politics of land remain crucial ingredients for sustainable livelihoods in the modern world.


CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS

  1. 2014-2018: Evaluating smallholder livelihoods and sustainability in Indonesian coffee and cocoa value chains, (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research –ACIAR)
  2. 2015-2016: Citizens Engagement and Policy Advocacy in Contemporary Indonesia (University of Sydney, Faculty of Arts Collaborative Research Scheme)
  3. 2014-2016: ARC Discovery Project 'Farmers of the Future: Challenges emerging from a Feminised Agriculture in India' (ARC Discovery Project)
  4. 2014-2015: Mekong Region Land Governance project (funded by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation).


KEY PUBLICATIONS

  • Lagerqvist, Y. F., L. Woollacott, A. Phasouysaingam and S. Souliyavong (2014). Resource development and the perpetuation of poverty in rural Laos. Australian Geographer 45(3): 407-417.
  • Neilson, J. and Shonk, F. (2014). Chained to Development? Livelihoods and global value chains in the coffee-producing Toraja Region of Indonesia, Australian Geographer, 45 (3). 269-288.
  • Lagerqvist, Y. F. (2014). Flexible Livelihoods in a Complex World: Asian lives and economies in transition. Australian Geographer 45(3): 261-268.
  • Phadungkiati , L. and J. Connell (2014). Social Networks and Livelihood Strategies for Small-Scale Traders on the Thai-Lao border, Australian Geographer, 45(3), 375-392.
  • Pritchard, B. & Thielemans, R. (2014). “Rising waters don’t lift all boats.” A sustainable livelihood analysis of recursive cycles of vulnerability and maladaptation to flood risk in rural Bihar, India, Australian Geographer, 45 (3), pp. 325-339.
  • Hirsch, P. (2012), Reviving agrarian studies in Southeast Asia: geography on the ascendancy, Geographical Research, 50, 4, 393-403.
  • Hall, D; Hirsch, P.; Li, T, (2011), Powers of Exclusion: Land dilemmas in Southeast Asia, Singapore: Singapore University Press.
  • Robert Fisher, Stewart Maginnis, William Jackson, Edmund Barrow and Sally Jeanrenaud, (2008). Linking Conservation and Poverty Reduction: Landscapes, People and Power. London: Earthscan.


CURRENT POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH STUDENTS

Name Thesis
Joshua Bray (MSc) Evaluation of smallholder livelihoods and sustainability in Indonesian coffee and cocoa value chains
Chetan Choithani (PhD) Does migration impact household food and nutritional security outcomes? Empirical insights from rural India
Jessie Connell (PhD) Community relocations in Cambodia: The role of accountability mechanisms and civil society in resettlement negotiations
Albert Hasudungan (PhD) Political ecology of palm oil development: Case study in Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan
Chann Sopheak (PhD) and and Natural Resource Territorial Demarcation - A Case
Study in Cambodia Protected Area
Mark Vicol (PhD) Global value chains and local livelihoods: The evolution of ‘privileged’ spaces in rural India


RECENT POSTGRADUATE THESES

Name Year Thesis Supervisor
Dr Gina Koczberski 2011 Smallholder Agriculture and Women’s Changing Role in New Britain, PNG Prof John Connell
Dr Oulavanh Keovilyngavong May 2013 Dr Oulavanh Keovilyngavong, Private Investment in the Resources Sector and the Poverty-Environment Nexus (PEN) in Laos Prof Philip Hirsch
Nguyen Tuong Huy August 2013 Transformation of Fisheries in Nha Phu Lagoon of Vietnam: Livelihoood Changes and Implications Prof Philip Hirsch
Kim Sean Somatra August 2013 Territoriality and State Power in Cambodia: the case of resource demarcation in Tonle Sap Prof Philip Hirsch
Dr Soimart Rungmanee August 2013 Compromised margin: Migration and Agrarian Transformation in Northeastern Thai-Lao Borderlands Prof John Connell
Dr Olivia Dun December 2014 Shrimp, Salt and Livelihoods: Migration in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam Prof John Connell
Dr Lada Phadungkiati December 2014 Negotiating Regionalisation: Social Networks and Survival of Informal Cross-border Traders Prof Philip Hirsch
Dr Paula Brown May 2014 Marine Protected Areas, Co-Management and Livelihoods: Coastal Change in Vietnam Dr Bob Fisher
 Diany Hartatri (MSc) April 2015 Indonesia value chain structures and smallholders' livelihoods: A case study of specialty coffee development interventions Dr Jeff Neilson


RECENT HONOURS THESES

Name Thesis
Amanda Or (2014) Agrarian Change Implications of Banana Cultivation in Xishuangbanna, China
Jennifer Jackett (2012) Life on the Edge: An everyday geography of people flows and the social co-construction of peri-urban space at the Bangalore periphery, India
Claire Ripley (2012) Reforming the Public Distribution System in an electronic age: a capability approach to e-governance in Karnataka, India
Rebeka Thielemans (2012) Not Just waiting for the next flood? How villagers negotiate vulnerability and adapt to flood in the Indian State of Bihar
Jon Collins (2012) All for one or none for all? The 'Livelihood Adaptation Menu' for climate vulnerable people in the rural south of Bangladesh
Laura Woollacott (2012) The ‘Resource Frontier’ in Muang Feuang District, Laos: the material and conceptual construction of space, its contestation and resultant livelihood responses

Migration and Development

Throughout the Asia-Pacific region migration and urbanisation have been o growing significance as national economies have restructured, agriculture and fishing have declined and ‘new’ urban economies , including tourism, have grown in significance. Migration has been further emphasised in many places by environmental change, and climate change may challenge rural livelihoods in other places, especially coral atolls. Migration has taken numerous from ubiquitous rural –urban migration, resettlement of people disrupted by dams and mines, and international migration to Australia and elsewhere. That migration has not always been welcomed, but has usually led to significant flows of remittances to home countries and villages and to new forms of social and economic change in home areas.


CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS

  • Migration in Atoll States
  • The Role of Migrants in Providing Care in Australia


KEY PUBLICATIONS

  • John Connell (2015) Shining Light on the Darkness. Placing Tourists within North Korean Tourism, Current Issues in Tourism.
  • John Connell and Margaret Walton-Roberts (2015) What about the Workers? The Missing Geographies of Health Care, Progress in Human Geography.
  • George Curry, Gina Koczberski and John Connell,eds (2015) Migration, Land and Livelihoods. Creating Alternative Modernities in the Pacific, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2015.
  • John Connell and Jessie Connell (2015) Development–Induced Displacement, Adaptation and Mobility in Cambodia, Migration and Development.
  • John Connell (2015) Vulnerable Islands: Climate Change, Tectonic Change and Changing Livelihoods in the Western Pacific, The Contemporary Pacific, 27(1), 1-36.
  • Richard Brown, John Connell and Eliana Jimenez (2014) Migrants’ Remittances, Poverty and Social Protection in the South Pacific: Fiji and Tonga, Population Space and Place, 20(5), 434-454.
  • Tubtim Tubtim, 2012, Migration to the Countryside: Class Encounters in Peri-urban Chiang Mai, Thailand, Critical Asian Studies, 44, 1, 113-130.


CURRENT POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH STUDENTS

Name Thesis
Emilie Chevalier (PhD) South Pacific Islands Mobilities in the XXIst century : toward a climate change-induced migrations paradigm? A comparative study of migration dynamics, interpretative frameworks and representations in Vanuatu and French Polynesia
Chetan Choithani (PhD) Does migration impact household food and nutritional security outcomes? Empirical insights from rural India
Kirstie Petrou (PhD) Sustainable Urbanisation and Second Generation Urbanites in Port Vila, Vanuatu
Andonea Dickson (PhD) Migration, Borders and Maritime Frontiers


RECENT POSTGRADUATE THESES

Name Project Supervisor
Dr Olivia Dun Shrimp, Salt and Livelihoods: Migration in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. December 2014. Prof John Connell
Dr Lada Phadungkiati Negotiating Regionalisation: Social Networks and Survival of Informal Cross-border Traders. December 2014. Prof Phil Hirsch
Dr Tubtim Tubtim (Cotutelle with Chiang Mai University) Rural Crossroads: Class and Migration in Peri-urban Chiang Mai. June 2014. Assoc Prof Kurt Iveson


RECENT HONOURS THESES

Name Thesis
Katherine Wilson (2010) Wan Laki Aelan. Development Trends on Aniwa, Vanuatu
Felicity Shonk (2012) Coffee, Buffalo and Remittances: Livelihoods and development in North Toraja, Indonesia
Sidney Hioe (2012) Borders, Discourse & Power:  A study of migration & smuggling in Australia and Indonesia
Kate Mitchell (2012) Cycling in a Sari: Female Spatial Capability in Northern India
Alisha King (2014) Voluntourism in Cambodia: A University Student’s Rite of Passage
Zoe Hillig (2015) Post-Earthquake Reconstruction and NGOs in Nepal
Hannah Mirella John (2015) Moving “onwards and upwards”? The nature and developmental implications of domestic youth migration for higher education in Cambodia