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 starting 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 (2010, 2014), 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 recently co-organized amongst others a hackathon challenge on land grabbing, and a workshop on automation in agriculture, and was a roundtable speaker at the Dutch Agrifoodtech conference 2019. Most of Visser’s current projects focus on the digitalization of agriculture. 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 digital farming; the EU, Australia (by collaborator Sarah Sippel) and an emerging economy (Russia). A Toyota Foundation funded project (2018-2021), with Sippel, investigates the new values, forms of cooperation, and interaction that are emerging in the context of this digital ‘agrarian revolution’. It builds on earlier work on cooperation within agriculture (e.g. Kurakin & Visser 2017, Visser 2005). Meline Khachatryan and Louis Thiemann are involved in these projects. A project with ISS-colleague Karin Siegmann studies effects of the rise of digital farming for labour, in particular migrant workers. A newly commenced project (with Fabio Gatti) studies digital agriculture in Africa (Ghana). A recent project (2020-2021) funded by the UK-based ISRF explores newly arising forms data activism and data movements by farmers in the EU and North-America.
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). Visser is also increasingly interested in aspects of land beyond property, such as materiality in the form of soil and climate. A paper on the recurrent (mis)conceptions of investors in Russia’s black earth region through time, was presented at the Agrarian Studies Colloquium at Yale University. Currently, he is working on a special issue on land imaginations, together with Sarah Sippel.
Smallholders, alternative food networks & rural movements
This line of research investigates small-scale farming and the forms of interaction between large and small farms, as lay-out in a recent special issue on post-socialist smallholders (Visser, Dorondel, Jehlicka & Spoor 2019). Visser studies this interaction between small and large farms via the angle of symbiosis and co-existence (Visser 2004, 2009, Spoor & Visser 2004, Visser, Kurakin & Nikulin 2019), rural social movements and protest (Visser 2010, Visser & Bidaseca 2010, Mamonova & Visser 2004) and food sovereignty (Visser, Mamonova, Spoor & Nikulin 2015). He organized various international conferences with involvement of academics and movements on these theme, amongst others at the ISS, in Moscow, Bucharest, and organized workshops on food security in Benin and Ghana.