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Development Research Day 2020

The Development Research Day is an inter-disciplinary arrangement that was initiated in order to form a meeting ground for all researchers and students at Lund University who share an interest in development issues.

About Development Research Day, DRD

The first DRD

The event was launched in 2002 by the Department of Political Science at Lund University. Since then the responsibility for hosting the arrangement has rotated between the departments of political science, human ecology and human geography, sociology, economics and economic history and the multi-disciplinary centre LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies).


Given the unusual circumstances of a global pandemic which we are all living through, this will be the first year that the Development Research Day will take place online. A more decentralised structure is planned with a morning plenary on the theme of the current pandemic followed by parallel sessions hosted by various departments on the broad theme of rural development.

The Hydén Award for the best thesis on democratisation and development is awarded during the conference.

Morning plenary theme: Development practice and research in times of pandemic: Challenges and new opportunities

Date & time: Wednesday October 21, 2020. Time: 10:00-12.00. Note that we will start on the hour exactly.

Organizers: The Department of Human Geography

Venue: The plenary session will be run online and everyone is welcome to join at the Zoom link: https://lu-se.zoom.us/j/66124643225

No registration needed: All students and researchers from all departments interested in development are welcome.

Panel abstract: We are currently living through multiple crises unfolding within the exceptional circumstances of a global pandemic. From economic to ecological and political to personal, life on earth is being affected in profound ways. The very notion of development and visions for the future are at risk. However, we are also seeing incredible solidarity and collective mobilisation, which is in some cases bringing out the very best of what it is to be human. The plenary for Development Research Day 2020 will navigate these uncertain times of change. Four panellists with different roles in development practice and research have been invited to deliberate on the challenges and opportunities of our current situation. The audience will also be invited to join the discussions with their own experiences and perspectives on the implications of the pandemic and the associated crises focused on finding openings for alternative scholarship and practices of hope.


10:00 – 10:15 Welcome and Introduction: Agnes Andersson Djurfeldt

10:15 – 11:45 Panel discussion on Development practice and research in times of pandemic: Challenges and new opportunities. This will include audience participation. Moderator: Vasna Ramasar, KEG

11:45 – 12:00 Hydén prize for best thesis within the field

Invited panelists

Seema Kulkarni is one of the founding members of Society for Promoting Participative Eco-system Management, Pune (SOPPECOM). She is presently working as a Senior Fellow in SOPPECOM, Pune and co-ordinating the gender and rural livelihoods activities within the organisation. She has co-ordinated various studies and programmes around decentralisation, gender and land, water and sanitation. She has published several articles/book chapters around issues of gender, water, sanitation and rural livelihoods. She also teaches a few courses on water and equity and gender and rural livelihoods in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune.

She is currently the National Facilitation Team member of Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch or Forum for Women farmers rights (MAKAAM). SOPPECOM is the state anchor for MAKAAM and also works as a co-secretariat at the national level.

She has been associated with Stree Mukti Sangharsh Chalwal, the movement for the rights of Single women in Western Maharashtra and is actively involved in the Coalition of women’s groups in Maharashtra, Stree Mukti Andolan Sampark Samiti

Picture of Seerna Kulkarni


Dr. Vandana Desai is a senior lecturer in development geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research is on community participation, grassroots non-governmental organisation, gender, informal housing, widowhood and ageing, equality and diversity and relationship between NGOs and their corporate partners.  Her research has been funded by British Academy, British Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Department for International Development, Development Studies Association and the Swedish Research Council.  She is one of the editors of three editions (2002, 2008, 2014) of the Companion to Development Studies, Doing Development Research (2006) and The Handbook of Displacement (2020). She is a member of the advisory editorial board of the journal Progress in Development Studies and has supervised 12 PhDs to completion.


Picture of Dr Vandana Desai

Selorm Kobla Kugbega is a PhD candidate at the Department of Human Geography, Lund university. His PhD project focuses on land tenure and social differentiation aspects of state-led smallholder commercialization processes in Ghana. he received his undergraduate and postgraduate education in urban and rural geography. He also worked briefly at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ghana and as a development consultant conducting project evaluations in the Northern regions of Ghana.


Picture of Selorm Kugbega

Fernando Atristain is a Project Coordinator at the Social and Economic Development Unit at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in the Mexico Country Office. He currently coordinates several projects that seek to support young social entrepreneurs as well as micro, small and medium sized companies as part of the livelihoods and economic recovery efforts in Mexico in the midst of COVID-19. Fernando has been working within the UN system at the UNDP Mexico Social and Economic Development Unit, the Division of Private Fundraising and Partnerships in UNICEF Geneva, the Corporate Social Responsibility and Child Protection team at the UNICEF China Country Office, and at the United Nations Information Centre in Pretoria, South Africa. Throughout his academic and professional career, he has collaborated in researching topics like business and human rights, global value chains and its impact on development, and social entrepreneurship to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). He has a BA in International Relations from Tec de Monterrey, an MA on Public Policy of China from Fudan University, Shanghai, China and an MDP on International Development from Lund University, Sweden.


Bild på Fernando Astratain


Dr Vasna Ramasar is Associate Senior Lecturer in the Division of Human Ecology, Department of Human Geography at Lund University. Vasna has a Masters in Development Studies and a PhD in Sustainability Science. She worked in the development sector for over a decade including for NGOs in India, South Africa and Tanzania and organisations like UNDP and World Bank. She is a core group member of the Global Tapestry of Alternatives as well as maintaining her academic research and teaching in human-environment interactions with a focus on governance and social and environmental justice.


Picture of Vasna Ramasar


Afternoon structure

In the afternoon, we move to decentralized parallel panels organized by two departments: Political Science and Department of Human Geography (KEG). The below outlines the program for the two parallel streams taking place via zoom from 13.00-16.00:


Political Science Stream:

Humanitarianism and development: new directions in research and practice

Humanitarian responses to crises and emergencies have often been managed and studied as distinct from long-term development planning, yet this divide has become increasingly challenged by the emergence of a “development-humanitarian nexus” and now a “triple nexus” in which peace features as a third pillar. This panel brings together five interventions from practitioners and researchers that consider cases where the boundaries between humanitarianism and development are being reconfigured. The panel will shed light on how the nexus is mobilized by different organizations and across new configurations of actors, public and private, human and non-human. It will also interrogate if and how interventions premised on the nexus entrench or alter power relations in contexts of displacement, conflicts, and disasters.


  • Charles Drury (SIDA Africa Unit and Graduate School) “The triple nexus: reflections from SIDA’s Africa Unit”
  • Jenny lao Jörgensen (Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety) “Vulnerability in and between humanitarianism and development”
  • Ekatherina Zhukova (Department of Political Science) “Chronic Crisis and Nuclear Disaster Humanitarianism: Recuperation of Chernobyl and Fukushima Children in Italy”
  • Annika Bergman Rosamond and Catia Gregoratti (Department of Political Science) “Neoliberal turns in global humanitarian governance: corporations, celebrities and the construction of the entrepreneurial refugee woman”
  • Daniel Möller Ölgaard (Department of Political Science) “Selling the distant other online: how algorithms shape humanitarian communication”


Zoom link: https://lu-se.zoom.us/j/69485577742


KEG Stream:

KEG’s panel will give space to different early career scholars to present their ongoing work with point of departure in this year’s overall theme of rural development:


  • 13.00 – 13.20 Helena Wisbech Frid, “Sabotage” of the Disi Water Conveyance in Rural Southeast Jordan
  • 13.20 – 13.40 Jesica López, Cattle ranching as accelerating driver of deforestation in Amazonas region of Colombia
  • 13.40 – 14.00 Selorm Kugbega, State-chief Interactions and Agrarian Change in Ghana. The Case of Nkoranza Traditional Area
  • 14.00 – 14.20 Karin Lindsjö, Generational challenges to agricultural intensification in Malawi
  • 14.20 – 14.40 BREAK
  • 14.40 – 15.00 Mads Barbesgaard, Landscapes of dispossession: Spectacular and mundane struggles in Southeastern Myanmar
  • 15.00 – 15.20 Mengina Gilli, Shea land formalization and the distribution of market-based conservation benefits in Ghana’s CREMA
  • 15.20 – 15.40 Yahia Mahmoud, CO2-Negative Cooking and Cultivation in Smallholder Farms in Africa – the Potential Role of Pyrolysis and Biochar


Zoom-link:  https://lu-se.zoom.us/j/63286236286


For questions regarding the event, please contact Karin Lindsjö (karin [dot] lindsjo [at] keg [dot] lu [dot] se) & Mads Barbesgaard (mads [dot] barbesgaard [dot] 2321 [at] keg [dot] lu [dot] se)