Yunan Xu is a PhD candidate of Development Studies at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague. She has published several journal articles, reports and conference papers. Her research interests include: land politics and policies, rural livelihood, rural politics, agrarian transformation, crop booms, flex crops and food politics, with the geographic areas both in China and beyond (Southeast Asia and Latin America). She has published in top international academic journals, including Journal of Peasant Studies, Journal of Cleaner Production, Thrid World Quarterly and Third World Thematics.
She has an interdisciplinary education background, in the field of nature resource and environmental studies. She began her academic career in the water resource, geography and environmental science field during her Bachelor’s degree, which resulted in two joint articles. At the postgraduate level, she extended her scope of learning from natural science to social science, with a particular focus on environmental governance and natural resource management, in order to better understand complex social realities and seek better solutions for sustainability issues. During her Master’s degree, her research focus on food safety and food policy in China, which is part of an international project on the environmental flow between the rural and urban areas collaborated with academics from Wageningen University, and was resulted in a joint article. Then, during her PhD study, she shifted the research scope from consumption to production process, and from urban to rural areas.
Her PhD research is on the political economy and political ecology of the rise of the industrial tree plantation sector in China, with a focus on the dynamics of land, labour and livelihoods. In this research, she has employed the mix method and engaged with the global context and debates on crop booms, land politics, social differentiation, political reactions from below, accumulation and dispossession, and human-nature interactions etc. Her study is global in scope with a focus on China, with implications both for China and beyond.
She has expertise in both qualitative and quantitative research methods. She is able to conduct mathematical models and statistical methods proficiently, with a series of relevant programming tools (e.g. R, SPSS, GAMS, LINGO). Moreover, she has gained expertise in critical political economy and political ecology perspectives during her PhD training.
Additionally, she has helped organized Research in Progress Seminars at ISS (2014-2015). She has been invited to give lectures at Wageningen in the Netherlands and Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PlAAS) in University of The Western Cape, South Africa. She has also been actively involved in facilitating and participating in various seminars and conferences in international settings (e.g. the "BRICS Initiatives for Critical Agrarian Studies" or BICAS, and the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiatives or ERPI).