Volume 54 Number 1A March 2023
Edited by: Stephen Thompson and Mariah Cannon
Robert Chambers is one of the most influential and prolific scholars to write about participation, poverty, and knowledge in development studies. His writing and thinking have revolutionised the discipline, inspiring both participatory processes and more inclusive practice. His work continues to inspire and provoke debate and discussion among development practitioners, activists, and academics from around the world.
Here we present an Archive Collection of the IDS Bulletin in a celebration of Robert’s contribution to the journal over the last five decades. The eight articles included in this IDS Bulletin Archive Collection clearly show change – change in Robert’s evolving interests, change in the strategic focus of IDS as a research institute, change in the wider development studies field, as well as change in the world at large over the last 50 years.
Robert’s earlier IDS Bulletin articles show a strong focus on local knowledge and rural development. Over time, this shifts to a concern with professional development management, and a focus on power and participatory methods. While each article stands alone, these themes re-occur and re-emerge. Bias or unfairness in the development sphere is a major concern which Robert highlights in his IDS Bulletin articles, whilst his advocacy for bottom-up, diverse, and process-led approaches to participation clearly emerges.
As the editorial introduction explains and explores, the premise of this IDS Bulletin Archive Collection is to delve into Robert’s contribution to the journal, to resurface buried gems of development studies scholarship, and to reinvigorate debates about how we can do better – a question described by Robert as the eternal challenge of development.
Volume 54 Number 1 February 2023
Edited by: Lídia Cabral, Sérgio Sauer and Alex Shankland
Brazil is recognised as a world leader in the production of agri-food commodities in large, highly mechanised farms, but also as a centre of resistance movements advocating for land rights and food sovereignty. Brazil’s portrayal as a success story of agricultural modernisation is invariably linked to the expansion of the production frontier and, specifically, the conversion of the Cerrado region into industrial farmland.
A vast savannah zone in the centre of the country, the transformation of the Cerrado region has been driven by intensive soybean and livestock production for export. However, the Cerrado ‘miracle’ has come at a high cost. Besides the environmental impacts of land clearance and the removal of native vegetation, the expansion of the frontier has exacerbated poverty and injustice, deepening the historical inequality of land distribution and wealth.
This issue of the IDS Bulletin highlights the legacy of tensions in the Cerrado, arguing that this legacy cannot be ignored in debates on global agri-food systems to which the region is increasingly central. Authored mainly by early career scholars from Brazilian and British universities, the papers here offer new research and empirical material on the battles that have engulfed people and nature in the Cerrado. Three themes emerge: the logic of extraction in an agricultural frontier; the grabbing of natural resources in the name of sustainability; and conflicts and resistance movements.
This IDS Bulletin concludes with an agenda for research and action to reclaim the Cerrado, alongside other agricultural frontier territories across the world, as part of the global effort towards sustainable transformation of agri-food systems to secure justice for nature and people alike.
Volume 53 Number 4 December 2022
Edited by: Amber Huff and Lars Otto Naess
Despite a growing focus on the justice dimensions of climate and environmental change, this issue of the IDS Bulletin argues that there are still ‘blind spots’ in dominant mainstream approaches to climate and environmental justice. These approaches share a tendency to place growth, not ecology, nor climate, and certainly not justice, at the heart of the international policy agenda.
The articles in this issue bring together a range of empirically grounded studies that add to – and challenge – some of the dominant views and approaches, and unearth some key ‘hidden’ aspects of the justice dimensions of climate and environmental change. In particular, this IDS Bulletin highlights three major ‘blind spots’ in climate and environmental justice debates: a persistent failure to recognise diverse contexts and knowledges; continuing failure to sufficiently appreciate the deep-seated contestations around climate and environmental justice; and the risks associated with ‘recovery’ and ‘emergency’ mindsets driving climate and environmental policy agendas.
The articles offer principles to address those ‘blind spots’ in order to move towards more just and inclusive pathways for climate and environmental policy processes. In doing so, the articles recognise that there will be variation – across sites and social groups – in the needs, aspirations, and meaningful notions of justice for those who experience the greatest vulnerabilities in the face of change. True solutions may require that powerful political and economic actors’ interests are challenged or that dominant forms of ‘expertise’ are questioned. Approaches to climate and environmental justice must reject efforts to apply one-size-fits-all solutionism.