dr. Oane Visser

Job title
Associate Professor International Institute of Social Studies

Oane Visser is Associate Professor in Agrarian Studies. His research interests revolve around: 1) new (digital) technologies in agriculture and development more broadly, 2) Land, large-scale farming and financialization of agriculture, 3) smallholders, alternative food networks and rural movements. Beyond agriculture, he has published on financialization more generally (e.g. Visser & Kalb 210; Kalb & Visser 2012) and ethnopolitics (Visser & Bakker 2016; Melchior & Visser 2011). Some of his research looks at global processes, while most research is grounded in fieldwork in post-socialist Eurasia (e.g. Russia, Ukraine, Romania) and more recently in the EU (Netherlands), and new projects in Ghana, and the US.

Visser earned his PhD in Anthropology from Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Before coming to the ISS, he was assistant professor at subsequently the Department of Research Methods, and the Dept. of Anthropology and Development Studies at Radboud University. He has been visiting fellow at Cornell University (2022, 2014, 2010), City University New York (2014), Oxford University (2015) and the University of Toronto (2016).  In the past years he won numerous research grants (e.g. from European Research Council (ERC), Land Academy, Toyota Foundation, ISRF).

‘Digital agriculture’, technology and development

Visser’s latest research line is on new digital technologies and development (see recent blogposts by Visser & Medendorp, and Nikam & Visser). He co-organized amongst others a hackathon challenge on land grabbing, and a workshop on automation in agriculture, and was a keynote speaker at the AI Forward forum 2022, and roundtable speaker at the Dutch Agrifoodtech conference. Most of Visser’s current projects focus on the digitalization of agriculture, including top-down corporate innovation and bottom-up farmer-led innovation. GPS steered combines, drones making field scans, agronomic advice via smart phones and big data of farming; these are some examples of the recent digitalization of food production. These novel changes constitute Visser’s most recent research line. Various projects investigate the overall topic of benefits and limitations of these new technologies, and the socio-economic consequences and responses. Fieldwork is conducted in some of the major countries involved in digital farming; the EU, US and an emerging economy (Russia). A Toyota Foundation funded project (2018-2022), with Sippel, investigated the limits and risk of new digital technologies in agriculture (Visser Sippel & Thiemann 2021). A project with ISS-colleague Karin Siegmann studies effects of the rise of digital farming for labour, in particular migrant workers (Siegmann, Ivosevic & Visser 2021). Another project (with Fabio Gatti) studies digital agriculture in Africa (Ghana) (Gatti & Visser 2020). A recent project (2020-2023) funded by the UK-based ISRF explores newly arising forms of farmer-led, frugal innovation, data activism and data movements by farmers in the EU and the US. An ISS-funded project led by Visser (with Hulsink & van Lammeren) studies urban agriculture’s resilience and innovation across a ‘low-tech’- ‘high-tech’ spectrum. Visser supervises PhD research projects on e.g. (climate) smart agriculture in Vietnam and Pakistan.

Land, large-scale farming and financialization

This constitutes an ongoing line of inquiry, globally and particularly in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet countries. Visser organized various international conferences on financialization of agriculture, and edited two special issues on the theme (Visser, Clapp & Isakson 2015, Clapp, Visser & Isakson 2017).  Based on various grants he was awarded as Principal Investigator (e.g. a Land Academy grant, ERC grant 2013-18) he publishes widely on farmland investments (or land grabbing), see e.g. Kuns, Wastfelt & Visser 2016, Visser, Mamonova & Spoor 2012, 2014, 2015, Visser 2017, Visser, Kurakin & Nikulin 2019).

On land transformations more generally, Visser organized various international workshops, and published widely on land reforms and farm restructuring (e.g. Visser & Spoor 2004, 2019, Visser 2006). 

Food provisioning, sustainability, smallholders 

Another research line is on food practices. Next to research, outreach and lecturing on global food security, Visser especially focuses on alternative food networks and practices (e.g. Jehlicka et al 2020), (peri)urban food provisioning, ‘quiet sustainability’ and food sovereignty and (especially post-socialist) smallholders (Visser et al 2015, Visser et al 2021). 

Oane Visser
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