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.
P. Jehlicka, M. Grivins, O. Visser & B. Balazs (2020). Thinking food like an East European: A critical reflection on the framing of food systems. Journal of Rural Studies, 76, 286-295. doi: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2020.04.015
O. Visser (2020). Persistent farmland imaginaries: Celebration of fertile soil and the recurrent ignorance of climate. Agriculture and Human Values. doi: 10.1007/s10460-020-10154-1
S. Sippel & O. Visser (2020). Re-imagining land: Materiality, affect and the uneven trajectories of land transformation. Agriculture and Human Values. doi: 10.1007/s10460-020-10152-3
I. Hofman, O. Visser & A. Kalinovsky (2020). Encounters after the Soviet collapse: The contemporary Chinese presence in the Former Soviet Union border zone. Problems of Post-Communism, 67 (3), 193-203. doi: 10.1080/10758216.2020.1746912
I. Melchior & O. Visser (2010). Voicing past and present uncertainties: The relocation of a Soviet world war II memorial and the politics of memory in Estonia. Focaal. Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, 59, 33-50.
M. Spoor & O. Visser (2004). Restructuring Postponed? Large Russian Enterprises 'Coping with the Market'. Journal of Peasant Studies, 32 (2), 515-551.
O. Visser (2004). De Russische boer houdt vast aan collectief bedrijf. Geografie (Kon.Ned.Aardrijkskundig Genootschap), 17 (7), 30-33.
O. Visser (2003). Property and post-communist poverty. Can the mystery of property be exported to the farmer Soviet countryside. Focaal. Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, 41, 197-202.
M. Spoor & O. Visser (2001). The State of Agrarian Reform in the Former Soviet Union. Europe-Asia Studies (Former Soviet Studies), 53, 885-901.
O. Visser & L. Schoenmaker (2011). Institutional transformation in the agricultural sector of the former Soviet bloc. Decollectivisation in Mongolia's countryside in comparison with Russia. Eastern European Countryside.
O. Visser, N. Mamonova, M. Spoor & A.M. Nikulin (2015). Quiet food sovereignty in loud food security. In A.M. Nikulin, M.G. Pugachova & T. Shanin (Eds.), Krestyanovedenie 2015. Teoriya. Istoriya. Soveremennost. Uchenye zapiski (pp. 10-35). Moscow: Delo, RANKhiGS
O. Visser (2014). 'Pustye' prava, sotsial'nye obyazannosti i rabochie otnosheniya. Zastoi i izmenenie trudovykh otnoshenii na se'l'khozpredpriyatiyakh. In E Bogdanova & O Brednikova (Eds.), Vdali ot gorodov. zhizn' postsovetskoi derevni (pp. 79-104). St.Petersburg: Aleteiya
O. Visser (2012). 'Pustye' prava, sotsialnye obyazannosti i rabochie otnosheniya. In E Bogdanova & O Brednikova (Eds.), Vdali ot gorodov. Zhizn´ postsovetskoi derevni (pp. 79-104). St. Petersburg: Aleteiya
D. Kalb & O. Visser (2012). Oligarchy and state capture: Soviet-style mechanisms in contemporary finance capitalism. In A handbook of economic anthropology, Second edition (pp. 571-584). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar
D. Kalb & O. Visser (2012). The Soviet revenge: How the unrecognized Soviet-style mechanisms of contemporary finance capitalism cause social crisis and catastrophe in the West. In P.G. Gardiner Barber, B. Leach & W. Lem (Eds.), Confronting capital. Critique and engagement in Anthropology (pp. 76-96). New York, London: Routledge
O. Visser, N.V. Mamonova & M.N. Spoor (2012). Investory, megafermy, 'pustuyushchie' zemli. Krupnye zemel'nye sdelki v Rossii. In Zemelnaya akkumulatsiya v nachale XXI veka (pp. 66-125). Moscow: Delo
O. Visser & M. Spoor (2011). Zakhvat Zemel¿ v postsovetskikh stranakh. In Krestianovedenie Vol. 6 (pp. 39-67). Moscow: Russian Academy of National Economy
O. Visser (2009). Household plots and the symbiosis with the large farm enterprises in Russia. In M. Spoor (Ed.), Land, peasants and rural poverty in transition. The political economy of rural livelihoods (pp. 76-98). London, New York: Routledge
O. Visser (2006). De onzichtbare hand van de tolkach. In Schemerzones en schaduwzijdes. Opstellen over ambiguiteit in samenlevingen (pp. 61-65). Nijmegen: Roelants
O. Visser (2006). Poperty, labour and social obligations in Russia's privatised farm enterprises. In F von Benda-Beckmann, K von Benda-Beckmann & M Wiber (Eds.), The changing properties of property (pp. 126-146). London, New York: Berghahn
M. Spoor & O. Visser (2005). Restructuring Postponed? Large Russian Enterprises 'Coping with the Market'. In Rural adaptation in Russia (pp. 153-189). London: Routledge Books
O. Visser (2005). Coping with crisis in the post-communist countryside. Mutual support and community attachment in rural Russia. In L Sikic-Micanovic & M Mattefy (Eds.), New countryside. Culture, local governance and sustainability in rural development (pp. 177-210). Miercurea-Ciuc: Sapietia-Hungarian University of Transilvania Press
O. Visser (2003). Farm restructuring, property rights and household strategies in rural Russia. In M. Spoor (Ed.), Transition, institutions and the rural sector (pp. 83-102). Lanham, Oxford: Lexington books, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers
O. Visser (2003). Family, community and the decline of the former kolkhozi in Russia. In P. Heady & H. Grandits (Eds.), Distinct inheritances. Property, family and community in a changing europe (pp. 313-328). Muenster: LIT Verlag
M. Spoor & O. Visser (2001). The State of Agrarian Reform in The Former Soviet Union. In - (pp. 161-190). Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press
O. Visser (Ed.). (2001-2018) Focaal. Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology.
O. Visser (Ed.). (2002-2016) Focaal. Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology.
M. Spoor & O. Visser (2006). Report of the DPRN Regional Expert Meeting Development policy for "Non-EU Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia". Utrecht: CERES
M. Spoor & O. Visser (2005). Report of the DPRN Regional Expert Meeting on Development Policy for "Non-EU Eastern Europe and Central Asia" (Final Report DPRN/Amsterdam and CERES/Utrecht). Utrecht: CERES
M. Spoor & O. Visser (2001). The State of Agrarian Reform in the Former Soviet Union. (ISS Working Papers, General Series, no 333). The Hague: ISS
O. Visser (2008, december 11). Crucial connections. The persistence of large farm enterprises in Russia. Radboud University Nijmegen (383 pag.) (Nijmegen) Prom./coprom.: prof. W Wolters & Prof.dr. M.N Spoor.
A. Ferent & O. Visser (2020, juni 25). Impacts of technological change on CEE agricultural labor migrants in Dutch horticulture. Halle/S, Germany, IAMO Forum 2020; Digital Transformation towards sustainable food value chains in Eurasia.
O. Visser (2020, juli 20). Technological change and migrant farm workers in Dutch horticulture. London, ISRF online workshop.
O. Visser (2019, juni 27). New digital farm technologies. Exploring bottom-up innovations in data & technology for smaller farms. Halle/S, Germany, IAMO Forum 26-28 June.
O. Visser (2019, juni 2). Robots, migrant workers and LED-lightened tomatoes: Impacts of Technological change in Dutch agriculture for CEE Migrant workers. Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, guest lecture.
O. Visser (2019, juni 18). Land grabbing and new digital technologies. World Forum, The Hague, EuroDIG conference 'Cooperating in the digital age'.
A. Hajdu & O. Visser (2018, maart 22). Financial asset, estate, or farm? A genealogy of land imaginations, farm models and images of ‘the investor’ in Romania. University of Leipzig, Germany, international workshop ‘Constructions, representations, productions: Exploring historical and contemporary Land imaginations’.
O. Visser (2018, maart 21). The remarkable persistence of farmland imaginaries against all (ecological and economic) odds: The case of the celebration of the black earth soil during various investment waves in Russia. Leipzig, Germany, international workshop ‘Constructions, representations, productions: Exploring historical and contemporary Land imaginations’.
O. Visser (2018, juni 21). From soviet symbiosis to Corporate Social Responsibility? Large-scale farms and smallholders in Russia. ISS, The Hague, international workshop 'Land, Farms and Social Protection in Post-Socialist Eurasian and Beyond'.
P. Ivosevic, K.A. Siegmann & O. Visser (2018, december 7). People as Robots? Exploring the effects of technological changes in the Dutch agro-food sector on Central & Eastern European migrants. ISS, The Hague, international workshop 'Technological change in the agro-food sector in the Netherlands. Mapping the the role & responses of Central & Eastern European Migrants.
O. Visser (2018, juni 27). Agroholdings and digital farm technologies in Russia: opportunities and challenges. Leibniz institute for Agriculture Development in Transition Countries (IAMO), Halle/S Germany, IAMO Forum.
P. Jehlička, B. Balázs, M. Grīviņš & O. Visser (2018, juni 20). Thinking food like an East European: a critical reflection on the framing of food systems. Oslo, Norway, paper presented at the conference POLLEN18 ‘Political Ecology, the Green Economy, and Alternative Sustainabilities’.
O. Visser (2018, september 29). Large-scale farms: for profit and society? Leibniz institute for Agriculture Development in Transition Countries (IAMO), Halle/S, Germany, IAMO Forum.
B. Kuns & O. Visser (2018, juni 28). A critical comparative history of agroholding farms in Russia and Ukraine. Leibniz institute for Agriculture Development in Transition Countries (IAMO), Halle/S Germany, IAMO Forum.
O. Visser (2016, oktober 5). Farmland moves. Black earth narratives, geopolitics and the symbolical dimensions of farmland investment. New London, Food Studies seminar, University of Waterloo, Canada (invited lecture).
O. Visser (2016, oktober 14). Separating the soil. Black Earth Narratives, geopolitics and the symbolical dimensions of farmland investment in Russia and Ukraine. New London, Geography seminar, University of Western Ontario, Canada (invited lecture).
O. Visser (2015, juli 9). How pervasive is the land rush? Finance, land values and the instability of farmland investmen. Utrecht, The Netherlands, LANDac conference.
B. Kuns, O. Visser & A. Wastfelt (2015, juli 9). Scandinavians on the Eastern Steppe: the trials and tribulations of the Western investor-led, listed farming model. Utrecht, the Netherlands, Landac conference.
B. Kuns, O. Visser & A. Wastfelt (2015, mei 22). Swedish Black Earth. The trials and tribulations of investor-led, stock listed Western farm companies in Russia and Ukraine. ISS, International workshop 'A study in resource making: The financialisation of food and agriculture'.
O. Visser (2014, september 25). Boardrooms, stock exchanges and farm fields. Analyzing investor-led farming - Invited speaker. University of Waterloo, Canada, Mapping the Global Food Landscape,.
O. Visser (2019, juni 1). Smallholders and food provisioning in Central & Eastern Europe: Quietness, Resilience & Politics. Bucharest, Romania, ‘Looking beyond the European CAP: How can human rights prevail economic interests in public policies for food and agriculture? organized by Ecoruralis and European Coordination La Via Campesina.
O. Visser (2012, januari 28). Visser, O. (2012) ‘Large-scale land acquisitions by foreign investors in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan’. Berlin, Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, Green Week Berlin, Messe, 20 January. Invited lecture (in Panel with high-level policy makers & investors) .
O. Visser (2016, oktober 7). Farmland moves. Black earth narratives, geopolitics and the symbolical dimensions of farmland investment. onbekend, lecture Development seminar, University of Toronto (invited lecture).
B. Kuns, O. Visser & A. Wastfelt (2015, augustus 8). Swedish Black Earth: The trial and tribulations of investor-led, stock listed companies in Russia and Ukraine. Milan, Italy, ICAE 2015 Pre-Conference Workshop on agro-holdings and other types of mega-farming operations.
O. Visser (2014, juli 31). ‘Farmland Investment in the Post-Socialist Countryside: Investment Practices and Discourses in the Black Sea Region’. Tallin, EASA bi-annual international conference.
O. Visser & M. Steggerda (2014, januari 24). ‘Land Investment, Labour and the Export of Farm Models. Frictions Emerging from Western Involvement in Russian Agriculture’. ISS, The Hague, international conference ‘Finance, Food and Farmland’.
O. Visser (2014, september 24). ‘When Wall street bankers enter wheat farming. The global farmland rush and the impact of investor-led farming’ - Invited speaker. onbekend, Lecture, Telluride House, Cornell University.
B. Kuns, O. Visser & A. Wastfelt (2014, november 7). ‘Swedish Black Earth: The Trials and Tribulations of the Western investor-led listed farming model’. F.I. Rainer Institute of Anthropology, Bucharest, ISS/EURAL Conference ‘Farmland, Food and Forests in Transition: The Post-socialist Eurasian countryside 25 years after’.
O. Visser (2014, november 21). ‘Farmland investment in Eastern Europe: Discourse and Practices’. Cluj, Romania, 11th Congress of the Romanian Association of Social and Cultural Anthropology.
O. Visser (2014, november 27). The Russian path of agrarian development and food security from a global perspective. Invited speaker. Moscow, conference ‘GMO agriculture, ecological farming and food security’ [in Russian].
A. Hajdu & O. Visser (2014, november 6). ‘Land investment in Romania; drivers, patterns and responses’. F.I. Rainer Institute of Anthropology, Bucharest, ISS/EURAL Conference ‘Farmland, Food and Forests in Transition: The Post-socialist Eurasian countryside 25 years after’.
O. Visser & M. Spoor (2011). Land Grabbing in post-Soviet Eurasia. Conference on ‘Global Land Grabbing' organised by LDPI (Land Deal Politics Initiative) and Journal of Peasant Studies: Sussex, UK (2011, april 6 - 2011, april 8).
M. Spoor & O. Visser (2000). The State of Agrarian Reform in the Former Soviet Union. Paper presented at the ISS Rural Development Seminar Series: The Hague (2000, november 27).
M. Spoor & O. Visser (2000). The State of Agrarian Reform in the former Soviet Union. Paper presented at the Conference organized by ICARRD and Development Academy of the Philippines, Manila: The Hague (2000, december 5 - 2000, december 8).
O. Visser (2015). Organizing international workshop: A study in resource-making: the financialization of food and agriculture.
O. Visser (2014). in: J. Jeroense & T. Overduin (ed.) Het nieuwe Heilig. Op zoek naar hedendaagse inspiratie. Skandalon Publishers.
O. Visser (2013). Running out of farmland. Land deals, land value and the sluggishness of commoditisation. IUAES World Congress: Manchester (2013, augustus 5 - 2013, augustus 8).
O. Visser (produced by the Sacharov centre, Moscow) (2014, dec 15). From food security to food sovereignty (in Russia). [webcast]. In Talking Heads, Gogol TV. http://www.gogol.tv/video/1323.
O. Visser (TV interview) (2014, jul 31). Consultation/Interview for Al Jazeera TV International, on Ukraine crisis & sanctions against Russia, July 31 2014. [televisie-uitzending]. In Al Jazeera International.