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DST/NRF Partnerships


The Chair has sought to establish strong collaborative partnerships with a range of international and local scholars with relevant expertise and overlapping interests.

Profs Henry Bernstein (photo below left), Bridget O’Laughlin (photo below centre), Pauline Peters (photo below right) and Jim Ferguson: In 2010 Professor Cousins was invited to become a fellow of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS), and to co-host the fellowships of four internationally renowned scholars of agrarian change. Profs Henry Bernstein (University of London), James Ferguson (Stanford University), Bridget O’Laughlin (Institute of Social Studies, the Hague), and Pauline Peters (Harvard University) were based at STIAS from February to April 2011, and contributed to the Research Group in a number of ways: they attended a workshop where the post-graduate students in the Group presented research designs and emerging findings, providing feedback and advice, and they helped to plan, and then participated in, three colloquia held at UWC, UCT and Stellenbosch, as well as other seminars. Together with Bernstein, O’Laughlin and Peters, Cousins co-edited a special issue of the J. Of Agrarian Change that was published in 2013 with papers from all of the STIAS Fellows except Peters. Papers by the editors of the special issue were presented in panels at two international conferences, one in London in 2012 and one in Cape Town in 2013, and Prof Bernstein was a keynote speaker at the 'Land Divided' conference in March 2013.


Prof Phil Woodhouse (University of Manchester): Prof Woodhouse (photo right) and one of his PhD students, Paul James, undertook research on production, livelihoods and land reform in the sugar sector in Mpumalanga Province from 2011-2014. They participated in some of the activities of the Group, such as the workshop for 'New Researchers in Land and Agrarian Studies' held in October 2011 and the sugar research network of Southern Africa. Prof Woodhouse was a keynote speaker at the 'Land Divided' conference in March 2013.


Prof Ian Scoones (IDS) (photo below left), Prof Ephraim Chirwa (Chancellor College) (photo below centre), and Dr Chrispen Sukume (independent) (photo below right): Cousins helped raise funds for two PLAAS research projects initiated in 2012 and has played an advisory role in each. One is the ‘Space, Markets and Employment in Agricultural Development ‘ study, with field sites in South African, Zimbabwe and Malawi, funded by ESRC (UK). In this project I collaborate with Prof Ian Scoones of the Institute for Development Studies, Prof Ephraim Chirwa of Chancellor College in Malawi, and Dr Chrispen Sukume, an independent researcher in Zimbabwe, as well as PLAAS colleagues Prof Andries Du Toit, David Neves and Cyriaque Hakimanza.


Prof Milla Maclahlan and Dr Scott Drimie (Universty of Stellenbosch): Cousins helped raise funds for and played an advisory role in a project on ‘Small-scale Farmers into Commercial Agriculture’, that focused on the role of private sector partnerships with smallholder farmers in South Africa’. It was funded by Ford Foundation and the Mellon Foundation. Cousins participated in field trips and ‘innovation labs’ and sat in the steering committee of the project together with PLAAS Director Prof Andries du Toit and members of the Food Lab at the University of Stellenbosch (Prof Milla Maclahla,  Dr Scott Drimie and Kenneth Carden). Cousins mentored three PLAAS interns participating in the project.


Prof Marja Spierenburg (VU University, Amsterdam): One PhD student, Nerhene Davis, had her study funded through a SANPAD project co-led by Cousins and Prof Marja Spierenburg of VU University, Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Davis was invited to join the Research Group because her research topic, ‘strategic partnerships within South African land reform’, was closely aligned to that of other projects. Prof Spierenburg provided co-supervision of Davis’ thesis, and joined the Research Group on occasion for discussions on research findings.


Prof Cherryl Walker (University of Stellenbosch): Together with Prof Walker (photo right) and Dr Aninka Claassens of UCT, as well as other colleagues at PLAAS, Cousins helped to organize an international conference on 'Land Divided: Land in South African Society in in 2013 in Comparative Perspective', held in Cape Town in March 2013.They also raised funds for and helped to organize a major photographic exhibition on ‘Umhlaba: commemorating the 1913 Land Act’, held at the National Gallery in association with the conference. In 2015 Cousins and Walker published a co-edited volume of papers from the Land Divided conference.


Dr Aninka Claassens (University of Cape Town): Cousins continues to collaborate closely with Dr Claassens (photo left) and her group at the Centre for Law and Society (CLS), University of Cape Town, with a particular focus on land tenure reform. Cousins co-hosted a workshop with CLS on these issues in 2011, and assisted in analysis of new land reform policies for a community activist workshop in 2013 co-hosted by CLS, PLAAS and others.




Prof Paul Hebinck (Wageningen University, Netherlands): Cousins worked closely with Prof Hebinck (photo left) in co-editing a book on land reform that was published in 2013. This included chapters  by two of students, Rosalie Kingwill and Karin Klenbooi. Prof Hebinck has also attended workshops of the Research Group.



Prof Lungisile Ntsebeza (University of Cape Town): A workshop for 'New Researchers in Land and Agrarian Studies' held in October 2011 was co-hosted with Prof Ntsebeza’s SARChI Chair. Cousins and Ntsebeza also collaborated in the organization of a colloquium on ‘Land, liberation and democracy in Africa’ in honour of a recently deceased senior scholar and colleague, Lionel Cliffe. This took place at UCT in October 2014.


Prof Ye Jingzhong (China Agricultural University, Beijing) (photo below left), Prof Sergio Schneider (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil) (photo below centre), Prof Sergio Sauer (University of Brasilia, Brazil) (photo below right),  and China Agricultural University adjunct professors Henry Bernstein, Saturnino M. (‘Jun’) Borras Jr. and Jennifer Franco: In May 2014, together with Prof Ruth Hall of PLAAS and a post-doctoral fellow, Stephen Greenberg, Cousins was invited to an international seminar in Brazil on ‘Agrarian Transformations, Land and Development in the BRICS countries’. This is the second event hosted by the Brics Initiative for Critical Agrarian Studies (BICAS) that Cousins and other PLAAS colleagues helped establish and actively participate in. An international conference on ‘Rural Transformations and Food Systems: The BRICS and Agrarian Change in the Global South’ was organised  by PLAAS and took place at UWC under the auspices of BICAS in April 2015.


Prof Murray Leibbrandt (University of Cape Town) (photo right) and Cousins have collaborated closely in establishing a working group of nine SARChI Research Chairs within Carnegie 3 (‘Third Carnegie Enquiry: Strategies to Overcome Poverty and Inequality’), hosted at UCT. The working group aims to undertake research on poverty and inequality and to engage actively with policy-making processes, and constitutes an emerging ‘community of practice’. Funding has been obtained from the NRF. Two workshops were held in 2014, one on small-scale agriculture, that Cousins co-organised together with Profs Frances Wilson of UCT and Francois Lategan of CPUT. Other SARChI Chairs in the group at present are Profs Phil Harrison of Wits, Haroon Bhorat, Lungisile Ntsebeza, Di MacIntyre and Edgar Pieterse of UCT, Servaas van der Berg of Stellenbosch and Dori Posel of UKZN.