Category Archives: Development

The Possibilities and Limitations of Discourses on Stress and Burnout among Aid Workers in Kenya

2016-08-26 13.19.36Gemma Houldey // Development Studies // 21st March 2018 // 1-2pm // Arts C133
It is widely recognised that humanitarian workers are likely to suffer from severe forms of stress. A survey of aid workers conducted by the Guardian newspaper in 2015 found that approximately twenty per cent of their 754 self-selected respondents had suffered from PTSD and panic attacks, whilst forty four per cent suffered from depression. Academic studies addressing the health and wellbeing of aid workers have referred to the increasing instances of burnout in both national and international staff working in emergency settings (Cardozo et al., 2005; Eriksson et al., 2009). However these sorts of findings often give insufficient attention to the diversity of the aid sector; the fact that, for instance, approximately ninety per cent of its professionals are nationals from the global south. Using the examples of national and international aid workers I spoke to during a year of field research in Kenya, I will highlight that an aid worker’s identity, including their professional identity in the workplace and the socio-cultural context in which they operate, has implications for the way they conceptualise, articulate and respond to emotional challenges in their lives.
Gemma Houldey conducted one year of field research in Kenya for her Development Studies Phd, investigating how identity shapes the way aid workers understand and manage stress. She has worked in the aid sector for 15 years, for international NGOs including Christian Aid, War on Want and Amnesty International, and for national NGOs in Uganda and Palestine.

Fairtrade Banana versus Dollar Banana: A study of a neo-colonial relationship in Costa Rica

2017-04-23 2

Layla Zaglul // International Development // Wednesday 26th April 2017 // 1-3pm // Arts C133

Fairtrade advertising campaigns make a promise to the consumers: if they buy this product, they are assuring that the people who make that product are getting fair wages and working in fair conditions: Is this really the case? This study will provide a valuable analysis of contrasting models crucial to the discussion of whether or not the Fairtrade movement is truly able to effect change to the current market system through trade. The Fairtrade movement was established as a reaction against the deregulation advocated by neo-liberal policies with the purpose of creating a new egalitarian commodity network (Raynolds, 200; Moberg and Lyon, 2010). The Costa Rican banana industry is under the Dollar Banana System, which has always been characterised by free trade policies and by the power of transnational corporations (Raynolds and Murray 2002).The lecture will focus on a chapter of the thesis titled ‘Labour Conditions’, which describes how in terms of contracts, payment, working hours and Unions –or workers’ organizations- Fairtrade does not necessarily improve the conditions of the workers. The research is founded on an ethnographic study on two farms – one Fairtrade certified and one conventional farm – located in the South Pacific region of Costa Rica. This study compares the conditions in which the two farms operate in terms of labour regimes; the workers’ notions of fairness and meaning of labour. The thesis analyses the potential Fairtrade has in transforming the neo colonial dynamics in the banana trade in Costa Rica


Layla Zaglul is a third year PhD student in International Development. She holds a BA in Social Anthropology from the University of Costa Rica. After working for several years in Costa Rica she moved to the UK to undertake her MA in Anthropology of Development at SOAS, University of London. Her MA dissertation, explored the relationship between the consumption of Fairtrade bananas in the UK and its production in Costa Rica. Building on her MA, the PhD research is a comparative study of two banana farms in Costa Rica, one Fairtrade certified and one conventional.

Seeing and Being Indigenous at COP-21: Who are indigenous people and what are they for?

George Byrne // International Development // Wednesday 22nd March 2017 // 3-4pm // Arts C 133

In the so called ‘middle grounds’, the mutually comprehensible spaces on cultural frontiers, some people who are indigenous apparently become something else. They continue to embody the biosocial fact of being indigenous, but also appear to internalise and project elements of a complex web of myths associated with it. Sometimes, then, there is a difference between being indigenous and being Indigenous.

Drawing on a multi-sited ethnography that includes observations of the Indigenous Peoples Pavilion at COP-21 in Paris, my research considers how and why a distinct category of Indigenous people comes into existence at the UN conference. It asks who they are and what, if anything, are they for?

This category of people, ‘made up’ both by and for the context in which it emerges, is a transient phenomenon; it exists only as long as the context itself. Indigenous people can appear, disappear and reappear quite suddenly, which for a researcher can be somewhat disorienting, especially when trying to pin down precisely who and what ‘is’ Indigenous.

This talk will focus on a selection of vignettes; snapshots from my observations and interactions in and around the Pavilion at COP-21. The intention is to illustrate some of the ways in which indigenous people are being Indigenous at the conference, as well as to reflect on the (sometimes uncomfortable) position of being a non-indigenous researcher who goes in to the field with the intention of seeing Indigenous.


George is in the final year of his PhD in International Development Studies at the University of Sussex. He holds a BA in Latin American Development Studies and Spanish, an MA in International Relations and European Studies, and an MSc in Social Research Methods. His current research focusses on the ways in which indigenous people, particularly those from the Amazon region, interact with the increasingly globalised attempts to mitigate climate change. His work, based on research conducted over the course of two years in Ecuador, Peru and Paris, seeks to contribute to the field of ‘Anthropology of Development’ by critically reflecting on the processes that govern who and what represents ‘indigenous’ people in international climate change negotiations.


Challenge and challenges: Dalits’ assertion of right to own land amidst the dominance of the ‘upper’ caste in western Maharashtra, India

Titiksha Shukla//International Development//9th April//1-2 pm//Room C133


Land ownership among Dalits (ex-untouchables) has an economic and symbolic value. Denial of landownership to them, through the caste Hindu order, was one of the many terms of exclusion on which domination of the ‘upper’ caste was premised. In the post independence years land became a state matter and the ‘welfarist’ nature of the Indian state compelled it to redistribute land amongst its landless marginalized population.

Following the threads of historical exclusion and modern day citizenship, I explore what meaning landownership holds for the Dalits who owned and claimed land in the village that was the focus of my fieldwork. They used institutional and extra institutional means to access the land. However, it emerges from my work that these claims on land are not purely for economic reasons, but sits within a much broader politics of assertion. As this lecture will show, Dalits in modern day India carry multiple and contradictory identities (untouchable, equal citizen) and land is a means through which they struggle to privilege one identity over the other.


I have an undergraduate degree in Political Science and a postgraduate in Social Work. I did both the degrees in India. As part of my MA, I worked for two years with the People’s movement (National Alliance for People’s Movement, NAPM), on the issue of housing rights for the urban slum dwellers. Later, I joined the research team of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), to study the impact of global tourism on the youths and their livelihood choices in the Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir) region of India.

Following this I started a PhD degree at Sussex in 2010. My research focuses on inter-sectionality of Dalit identities and its role in Dalit politics. Currently I am finishing my thesis, that focuses on how local Dalit politics uses several methods that I describe as identity to challenge upper caste dominance. Concepts like political modernity, citizenship, Dalit identity, politics etc construct and shape my work.

Diverse Forms of Environmental Participation: Case Studies of Mining in China and India

Pin-Hsien Wu//International Development//26th of March//1-2 pm//Arts C133




This lecture presents parts of the findings of my PhD research, which is based on the fieldwork conducted in China and India during 2011 to 2012. The research aims to understand how different social actors conceptualise the environment and mobilise nature. One of my research objectives is to present how people, especially those filtered out and left behind in the progress of regional development, struggle with the environmental degradation and interact with it – and that is how I define ‘participation’ in a broad manner.

The case studies focus particularly on rural areas of the so-called ‘coal capital’ of the two countries. While the coal supplement in each of the countries fulfils more than 70% of the national energy requirement and facilitates the national economic growth, the living standards of my field sites are on the dark side of inequality. However, only little initiatives organised by non-governmental agents were found in response to the environmental crisis caused by the coal development – in my Chinese case, there was none. Does it mean that the ‘environmental participation’ is weak or absent there? To elaborate this question, I felt the need to reconsider the definition of ‘participation’, and what I learned from my informants is that people are demanding ‘participation’ in the environment-development dilemma; however, this could be realised in various forms. The presentation will illustrate some different performances of environmental participation those have been noticed during the study, and their value for further analyses in my dissertation will be addressed.

Brief biography:

Pin-Hsien Wu is a doctoral student in Development Studies at the University of Sussex. She received her master’s degree in Cultural Studies and bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Before returning to education, she worked for three years with Taiwanese and Indian NGOs, mainly those focusing on Environmental Impact Assessment procedure, environmental education and information disclosure. The work experience leads her to question the different definitions and practices of ‘environmental rights’ in diverse cultural contexts, and forms the basis of her PhD research on comparing environmental campaigns in China and India.

Institutions, Water and Socio-economic Change

Suhas R. Bhasme // Development Studies // 17th April // 1-2pm // Arts C 133


In 1990s with the introduction of irrigation reforms in India an initiative was taken in a direction to transfer the control of irrigation system to local famers by the state. Politically, one needs to understand the shift in light of growing intervention of World Bank in most of the developing countries. The process of building up new water institutions such as Water Users’ Association (WUA) emphasizes the idea of participation of farmers, efficiency and equitable distribution of water. It is through these associations that the farmers came to exercise a control over the irrigation water.

It is in light of the neo liberal background of the policy and the claims of ‘success’ made by the policymakers, I try to critically understand the process of formation and functioning of the WUAs through an ethnographic study of the these water institutions in rural part of India.