PhD researchers

Current PhD researchers (starting in...)


Kwalu Samwel Dede, Tanzania, ISS: (Promotor Leo de Haan, co-promotor ).

Helena S Francis, Tanzania, ISS: (Promotor Leo de Haan, co-promotor ).

Huei-Ling Lai, Taiwan, ISS: (Promotor Spoor, co-promotor Schneider).

Martha Jane Robbins, Canada, ISS: 'The Politics of Food Sovereignty' (Promotor: Borras, co-promotor: Spoor). 

Ratha Thuon, Cambodia, ISS: (Promotor Borras, co-promotor Spoor).


Cécile Famerée, Canada, ISS: ‘Collective Action Revisited in Cases of Land Grabs in the Peruvian Jungle: Reactions from Below, Transparency and the Role of the State’ (Promotor Spoor, co-promotor Borras).

Ben Radley, UK, ISS: ‘The Impact of Foreign Direct Investment on National Processes of Accumulation and Development: Natural Resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’ (Promotor Spoor, co-promotor: Fischer).

Christina Schiavoni, USA, ISS: ‘Competing Sovereignties in the Political Construction of Food Sovereignty’ (Promotor Spoor, co-promotors Borras and Arsel).

Fasil Nigussie Taye, Ethiopia, ISS: ‘Institutional Arrangement of Child Labour/Work in the Informal Weaving Sector in Addis Abeba’ (Promotor Spoor, co-promotor  Huijsmans).

Selena Tramel, USA, ISS: (Promotor Borras, co-promotor Spoor).

Zhang Jin, China, ISS: ‘The Political Economy of Global Industrial Tree Plantation Sector: A Comparative Study of Tree Plantations in Southern China and Southeast Asia by Chinese and non-Chinese Investors’ (Promotor Spoor, co-promotor Borras).


Daniela Andrade, Brazil, ISS: ‘Brazilian Investments in Mozambique’ (Promotor Spoor, co-promotor Borras).

Zoe Brent,USA, ISS: 'Land Access Mechanisms in the Global North' (Promotor Spoor, co-promotor Borras).

Eric Gutierrez, Philippines, ISS: 'Criminals without Borders: Land-grabbing and the Illicit Economy' (Promotor Spoor, co-promotor Borras).

Shigehara Kasahara, Japan, ISS/UNCTAD: 'The Flying Geese Paradigm: A Critical Study of its Application to East Asian Regional Development’ (Promotor Spoor, co-promotor Andrew Fischer).

SiuSue Mark, USA, ISS: ‘Land Reform in National Regime Transitions: The Multi-ethnic Case of Myanmar’ (Promotor Spoor, co-promotor Borras).

Clara Mi-young Park, South Korea, ISS/FAO: ‘Land Enclosures, Gender and Trajectories of Agrarian Change - The Gender Impacts of Corporate Land Deals on Land Rghts, Labour and Income Generating Opportunities’ (Promotor Spoor, co-promotor Borras; White, member of supervisory team).

Cevahir Özgüler, Turkey, ISS/MEU: ‘Gendered Experiences in Environmental Movements:  The Case Study of Bergama Movement in Turkey’. (Promotor Spoor, co-promotors Arsel and Harcourt).

Xu Yunan, China, ISS: ‘Chinese Land Grabbing in Southeast Asia’ (Promotor Spoor, co-promotors Borras and Schneider).


Alberto Alonso-Fradejas, Spain, ISS: ‘Land Grabbing in Guatemala’ (Promotor Spoor, co-promotor Borras).

Alonso Ramírez Cover, Costa Rica, ISS: ‘Conservation as Boundless Processes of Border-making. Neoliberal Territorialization in Trans-frontier Conservation: The Case of La Amistad Biosphere Reserve’ (Promotor Spoor, co-promotor Büscher).

Consuelo Fernández-Salvador, Ecuador, ISS: ‘Negotiating Identity:  A Study on Ehnic Identity in the Context of Development and Mining Exploitation in the Shuar Territory, in the Amazon Region of Ecuador’ (Promotor Spoor, co-promotors Arsel and Pellegrini).

Natalia Mamonova, Russia, ISS: ‘Land Grabbing and Rural Social Movements in Russia and Ukraine’ (Promotor Spoor, co-promotors Visser and Borras).

Michela Marcatelli, Italy, ISS:  ‘Contested Waters: Competing Demands on and Power Struggles over Productive and Domestic Uses of Water in Post-apartheid South Africa’ (Promotor Spoor, co-promotor Büscher).

Benedict McKay, Canada, ISS: ‘Competing Models of and Strategies for Socially-inclusive and Environmentally Sustainable Rural Development: Brazil and Bolivia Compared’, (Promotor Spoor, co-promotor Borras).

Maria Gabriela Palacio Ludena, Ecuador, ISS: 'A Matter of Choice? Social Protection and Informality in Ecuador' (Promotor Vos, co-promotors Fischer and Arsel).


Tsegaye Morade Shegro, Ethiopia, ISS: ‘Rural Livelihoods and Food Security in the Gondar Region, Ethiopia’ (Promotor Spoor, co-promotors Büscher and Borras).

Koen Voorend, NL, ISS: ‘Mission Impossible? Understanding Successful Welfare States in the Periphery’ (Joint Promotor Spoor, with Bedi); (Joint PhD with EDEM).


Ward Warmerdam, NL, ISS: ‘Having, Giving, Taking: Understanding China’s Development Cooperation in Africa’ (Joint Promotor Salih and Spoor, with co-promotor de  Haan). (Joint PhD with GGSJ).


Duygu Avci, Turkey, ISS: ‘Politics of Resistance against Mining: A Comparative Study of Conflicts in Ecuador and Turkey’ (Promotor White, co-promotor Arsel).

Angelica Maria Ocampo Talero, Colombia, ISS: ‘Young People, Development and the Construction of the Public in a Rural Conflict Region in Colombia’ (Promotor White, co-promotor Truong).

PhD Defenses


Deniz Akşin, Turkey: ‘Structural Adjustment and Peasant Producers: The Political Economy of a Turkish Export Crop.’ Defense date: 16 December (forthcoming).

Hannington Odame, Kenya: ‘Innovation Dynamics and Agricultural Technology in Kenya.’ Defense date: 17 September.


Richard Ameyan Ampadu, Ghana: 'Finding the Middle Ground: Land Tenure Reform and Customary Claims Negotiability in Rural Ghana.' Defense date: 20 September.

Shyamika Jayasundara, Sri Lanka: 'In Pursuit of Hegemony: Politics and State Building in Sri Lanka.' Defense date: 23 May.


Shuchi Karim, Bangladesh: ‘ Living Sexualities: Understanding Women's Sexuality in Urban Middle Class Bangladesh.’ Defense date: 11 December.

Suzanne Naafs, Netherlands: ‘Youth and Social Renewal in an Indonesian Industrial Town.’ Defense date: 11 December.

Aruinaa Dashtseren, Mongolia: ‘Livelihood Insecurity and Migration in Transition in Mongolia.’ Defense date: 6 November.

Moushira Elham Elgeziri, Egypt: ‘In Pursuit of Dignity: Education and Social Mobility in the Life Trajectories of Women Commercial School Graduates in Cairo.’ Defense date: 27 September.

Prem Kumar Vijayan, India: ‘Making the Pitrubhumi: Masculine Hegemony and the Making of the Hindu Nation.’ Defense date: 11 May.

Lucienne Maas, Netherlands: ‘A Time to Enrol, A Time to Stop... Policies, Perceptions and Practices Influencing the Right to Basic Education in Yemen.’ Defense date:12 April.

Donald Mmari, Tanzania: ‘Institutional Innovations and Competitiveness of Smallholders in Tanzania.’ Defense date:19 March.


Pedro Goulart, Portugal: 'Schooling and Child Labour in Portugal.' Defense date 16 September.


Husnul Amin, Pakistan: 'From Islamism to Post-Islamism, a Study of a New Intellectual Discourse on Islam and Modernity in Pakistan.' Defense date: 26 April.

Le Than Nghiem, Vietnam: 'Activity and Income Diversification: Trends, Determinants, and Effects on Poverty Reduction. The Case of the Mekong River Delta.' Defense date: 14 April.

Rose Wambui Wamuthenya, Kenya: 'Economic Crisis and Women's Unemployment in Urban Kenya.' Defense date: 8 April.

Near Completion

In total 7 researchers are in the final stages of their PhD (to be promoted by Professors Saith [1], White [5], and Spoor/Salih [1]): Runa LailaRosella Riviera, Christina Sathyamala, Martua Thomas Sirait, and Ward Warmerdam.

Visiting PhD Researchers

Cruz-Tyrrell, Serena, Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA, Visiting PhD Researcher: 'In Search of Safety, Negotiating Everyday Forms of Risk: HIV/AIDS, Criminalization, and Sex Work in the Slums of Kampala.' 

PhD researchers: in-house and virtual presence

PhD researchers are members of the Research Group, regular meetings, seminars and Research in Progress presentations are held within the group (some open to the public), in order to promote their full embedding, and to look for opportunities of joint publishing, grant writing, and other forms of involvement in research projects.

The PER group has spearheaded tailor-made mini training workshops for our PhD researchers in order to train them to get published on their own in world-class journals even while completing their PhD research.

There is an active policy to attract promising PhD students through various channels (NFP, Projects, and Self-Finance), with a variety of status, whether resident or non-resident but closely linked to the group. In this way the group will have staff members, post-docs and PhDs as members, whether they are physically present (or close by) or connected through cyber-space (as in a 'virtual research environment').

The latter is particularly important as quite a number of PhD researchers are non-resident or at most are staying shorter periods at ISS. Various forms of virtual research environments (for example the use of a PhD Forum for the Research Group) will therefore be developed.

PhD researchers and their supervisors will jointly develop publication strategies (which can include single authored papers, as well as jointly written with one or more supervisors), and the planning of participation in strategic conferences in which papers can be presented and exposure to peer groups can be further developed.