I am Professor and Chair of the research subject Rural Development in the Global South, one of two specialisations in our main research subject Rural Development at our division. I divide my time between this leadership role, own research on several different projects, and lecturing and supervision at BSc, MSc and PhD level.
My research interests include various aspects of the changing and dynamic livelihoods and socio-economic situations of rural inhabitants, and the processes, events and policies affecting them. I want to understand the everyday realities of people living in rural areas across the world, and how policies and development interventions look from their perspectives, in order to interrogate the mismatches that so often exist between local situations and policies constructed far away from these situations. So far I have mainly studied these issues in Southern and Eastern Africa, and briefly in Sweden, and focused on e.g. agricultural development programmes, poverty relief projects, cash transfers and carbon forestry. I am also interested in discourses, myths and narratives about rural dwellers, their livelihoods and their effects on the environment.
In two research projects I have focused on the material, social and relational effects of cash transfers and expanding social protection in rural South Africa, Malawi and Lesotho. Another research project focused on livelihoods and diversification in Swedish farming. The two most recent projects focus on discourses concerning Swedish carbon offsetting through carbon forestry in low-income countries and the local effects of this (see more under Research below).
Theories I use are often drawn from geography, anthropology, political ecology and critical development studies. I use broad livelihoods perspectives, discourse analysis and governmentality-perspectives frequently. My research is based on deep field engagement through extended fieldwork periods, mixed methods and long-term contact with the communities I work with.
Dissemination of results is something I take very seriously. This can take the form of organising workshops to discuss nascent or final results in the localities where data has been collected, national level workshops in the affected countries with various stakeholders and similar workshops in Sweden. There are also popular scientific reports or publications from every project. Countries where I have worked are: South Africa, Malawi, Lesotho, Uganda, Tanzania and Sweden.
List of recent projects. For all research projects and publications resulting from these, see pdf-file "list of publications by project".
I am project leader for this project that runs 2020-2022 (funded by Formas 'research into practice'-call) and aims to translate research results from an earlier project into practically applicable knowledge in cooperation with Swedish actors who invest in tree planting in low-income countries. The project follows up on a previous research project ('conservation for carbon or communities?', below) and includes Linda Engström at division of Environmental Integration.
I am project leader for this project running 2020-2023 (funded by Formas call on negative emissions). It aims to deepen the knowledge about how actors in climate compensation chains, from Swedish consumers via companies and organisations selling climate compensation, through different Swedish and local intermediaries to the local farmers view tree planting and its local effects. The project follows up on a previous research project ('conservation for carbon or communities?', below) and includes researcher Klara Fischer.
Can cash transfers have long-term effects on rural livelihoods in poor countries: Learning lessons from the effects of the child grant in South Africa.
I am project leader for this project, funded by Formas (2015-20). The project aims to investigate long-term effects of cash transfers on rural livelihoods, through following up household livelihoods and the effects of pensions and child grants in two villages surveyed in 2002 in rural South Africa. Focusing both on more concrete material long-term effects as well as various social and relational effekts of the cash transfers, the project aims to generate evidence around the recent turn towards builiding social protection in development policy. The project included PhD student Stefan Granlund who defended his thesis 6th March 2020, with the title 'The promise of payday: exploring the role of state cash transfers in post-apartheid rural South Africa'. The thesis is published in a more popular scientific abridged version here: EBA Development Dissertation Brief
Se open access publications from this project below.
Currently plans are being formed tocontinue this project in the future.
I am a researcher in this project, funded by ESCR/DFID in the U.K. The project ran through 2015-19, but we are still working on publications from the extensive collected data. Looking at how cash transfers in Malawi and Lesotho have impacted over time on young people’s livelihoods and their relations with older generations, the project follows up on interviews with young people aged 10-24 made in 2007-08 in Malawi and Lesotho. Five other researchers at three universities in the UK and at University of Malawi and National University of Lesotho are part of the project. The project has published a report (below) and will start publishing papers from 2020.
The prospects for Swedish farming: Agrarian change and household strategies.
I was project leader for this project, funded by Formas (2016-19). The project focused on studying agrarian change in Sweden and how households have dealt with societal changes in various ways. This was done through following up a study with agrarian households made in the 1990's in three different agricultural regions in Sweden. Through interviews with a selection of households, I focused on understanding strategies the farmers have used to handle changing social and environmental conditions for farming and their ideas about the future. The project includes the researchers Erik Westholm, Cecilia Waldenström and Camilla Eriksson.
A project report in Swedish was released in May 2020 and four articles from the project are planned in 2020-21. The report was discussed with stakeholders from all over Sweden in a webinar May 2020. Link to project report in Swedish »
Several academic publications are planned in 2021-22, the first is now published, see list below.
Conservation, carbon, communities: Swedish carbon purchases through forest plantations in Uganda.
I was project leader for this project, funded by the Swedish Research Council (VR) (2013-16). The project studied discourse, policy and practice in connection to Swedish carbon emission reduction purchases through CDM forest plantations in Uganda, which simultaneously aim to benefit local communities. The project included researcher Klara Fischer. The project published a project report (below) and five journal publications. In 2020 two new research projects will follow up on this project (see above).
Large-scale agro investments in Tanzania: Impacts on smallholder land access and food security
I was project leader for this project, funded by Formas and Sida (2012-15). The project studied the discourses surrounding large-scale agro investments in Tanzania and the impacts of discourses and activities on local livelihoods. The project included PhD student Linda Engström who defended her thesis in 2018, with the title: 'Development delayed: exploring the failure of a large-scale agricultural investment in Tanzania to deliver promised outcomes'. The thesis was later published in a policy brief version: 'How can an Agricultural Investment that never Happened Affect People Living in Poverty?'. One paper remains to be published from the project and Linda aims to apply for future research grants on to develop this topic.
Partners I currently actively cooperate with:
David Neves, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Dr. Evance Mwathunga, University of Malawi, Malawi
Thandie Hlabana, National University of Lesotho, Lesotho
Prof. Nicola Ansell, Brunel University, UK
Prof. Lorraine van Blerk, Dundee University, UK
Dr. Elsbeth Robson, University of Hull
I regularly publish popular scientific reports from the projects I lead, see list below.
As part of societal dissemination of research results I regularly engage with writing opinion pieces, giving interviews to media and participating in school outreach activities. Many of these pieces are in Swedish (see my Swedish CV page).
Opinion piece in English:
Judith Nora Hardt, Alasdair Skelton, Alice Larkin, Andrew Ringsmuth, Caroline Greiser, David Fopp, Duncan B Mclaren, Doreen Stabinsky, Erik Huss, Flora Hajdu, Greg Marsden, Hanne Svarstad, Henrik Lagerlund, Isak Stoddard, James Dyke, Jens Friis Lund, Jillian Anable, Joanna D Haigh, Julia Steinberger et al. (41 researchers) 2020. 10 myths about net zero targets and carbon offsetting, busted
- Professor in Rural Development, SLU, 2022
- Associate Professor in Rural Development, SLU, 2014
- Researcher at Uppsala Centre for Sustainable Development, 2009
- Postdoctoral Researcher, African Studies Centre, Oxford University, 2009
- Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Geography, Brunel University, 2007-8
- PhD student, Department of Water and Environmental Studies, Linköping University, 2006
-MSc from Uppsala University, major Human Geography, minors Antrhopology and Earth Sciences, 2000
Supervision of PhD students
Klara Fischer (Jacobson), defended her PhD in 2013, co-supervisor from the start in 2006
Linda Engström, defended her PhD in 2018, co-supervisor from 2012, main supervisor from 2014
Jovita Amurwon, defended her PhD in 2019, stepped in as main supervisor in 2014.
Stefan Granlund, defended his PhD in 2020, Main supervisor from start in 2015
I also regularly supervise MSc students. See list of students and more details on the PhD students in the CV.
Selected publications in English (for full list see pdf above)
Ansell, N, E Mwathunga, E, Hajdu, F, Robson, E, Hlabana, T, van Blerk L, Hemsteede R. 2022. Ethical Principles, Social Harm and the Economic Relations of Research: Negotiating Ethics Committee Requirements and Community Expectations in Ethnographic Research in Rural Malawi. Qualitative Inquiry. Published online: doi.org/10.1177/10778004221124631
Alarcón C, Lodin, JB, Hajdu F 2022. Agricultural Livelihoods, Rural Development Policy and Political Ecologies of Land and Water: Exploring new agrarian questions. The Routledge Handbook on Livelihoods in the Global South. 284-301.
Gonda, N., Leder, S., González-Hidalgo, M., Chiwona-Karltun, L., Stiernström, A., Hajdu, F., Fischer, K., Asztalos-Morell, I., Kadfak, A. & Arvidsson, A. (2021). Critical Reflexivity in Political Ecology Research: How Can the Coronavirus Pandemic Transform Us into Better Researchers? Frontiers in Human Dynamics, 3, 41. https://doi.org/10.3389/fhumd.2021.652968
Eriksson, C. & Hajdu, F. 2021. “You have to focus all your energy on being a parent”: Barriers and opportunities for Swedish farmers to be involved fathers. Journal of Rural Studies (83) 88–95. DOI:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2021.02.020
Hajdu F, Granlund S, Neves D, Hochfeld T, Amuakwa-Mensah F, and Sandström E. 2020. Cash transfers for sustainable rural livelihoods? Examining the long-term productive effects of the Child Support Grant in South Africa. World Development Perspectives. Published open access: DOI: 10.1016/j.wdp.2020.100227
Hajdu F, Neves D, Granlund S. 2020. Changing livelihoods in rural Eastern Cape, South Africa (2002-2016): Diminishing employment and expanding social protection. Journal of Southern African Studies. 46 (4) Published open access: DOI: 10.1080/03057070.2020.1773721
Robson, E & Ansell, N; Hajdu, F; Hemsteede, R; Hlabana, T; Mwathunga, E; & van Blerk, L. 2020. ‘Questions about compensation’ in P. Alderson and V. Morrow (2nd edition) The Ethics of Research with Children and Young People: A Practical Handbook SAGE, London. Pp. 84-85.
Fischer, K Giertta, F and Hajdu, F. 2019. Carbon-binding biomass or a diversity of useful trees? (Counter) topographies of carbon forestry in Uganda. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space. 2 (1) 178-199 DOI: 10.1177/2514848618823598
Engström L and Hajdu F 2019 Conjuring ‘Win-World’ – Resilient Development Narratives in a Large-Scale Agro-Investment in Tanzania. Journal of Development Studies. 55 (6) 1201-1220. DOI:10.1080/00220388.2018.1438599
Ansell N, Hajdu F, Van Blerk L and Robson E 2019 Fears for the future: The incommensurability of securitisation and in/securities among southern African youth. Social & Cultural Geography 20 (4) 507-533. Available Open Access: DOI: 10.1080/14649365.2017.1344871
Ansell N, Hajdu F, van Blerk, L and Robson, E 2018 ‘My happiest time’ or ‘my saddest time’? The spatial and generational construction of marriage among youth in rural Malawi and Lesotho. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 43(2) 184-199. Available Open Access. DOI: 10.1111/tran.12211
Fischer K, Hajdu F 2018 The importance of the will to improve: how ‘sustainability’ sidelined local livelihoods in a carbon-forestry investment in Uganda. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning. 20 (3) 328-341 DOI: 10.1080/1523908X.2017.1410429
Amurwon J, Hajdu F, Bukenya Yiga D, and Seeley J 2017 “Helping my neighbour is like giving a loan…” –the role of social relations in chronic illness in rural Uganda. BMC Health Services Research 17:705 Available Open Access: DOI: 10.1186/s12913-017-2666-5
Hajdu F, Fischer K, Penje O 2016 Questioning the use of ‘degradation’ in climate mitigation: A case study of a forest carbon CDM project in Uganda. Land Use Policy. 59 (31) 412–422. Available Open Access. DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2016.09.016
Fischer K, Hajdu F, Cavallin Giertta F 2016 Commentary on the paper by Lyons and Westoby “Carbon colonialism and the new land grab: Plantation forestry in Uganda and its livelihood impacts”, Journal of Rural Studies. (47) 267-268. DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2016.06.014
Ansell N, Hajdu F, van Blerk L, Robson E, 2016 AIDS-affected young people's access to livelihood assets: exploring 'new variant famine' in rural southern Africa. Journal of Rural Studies (46) 23–34. Available Open Access. DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2016.05.008
Hajdu F, Fischer K 2017. Problems, causes and solutions in the forest carbon discourse: A framework for analysing degradation narratives. Climate and Development. 9 (6) 537-547 DOI:10.1080/17565529.2016.1174663
Amurwon J, Hajdu F, Seeley J 2015 The relevance of timing of illness and death events in the household life cycle for coping outcomes in rural Uganda in the era of HIV. International Journal for Equity in Health 14:105 Available Open Access. DOI: 10.1186/s12939-015-0253-0.
Fischer K, Hajdu F 2015 Does raising maize yields lead to poverty reduction? A study of the ‘Massive Food Production Programme’ in South Africa. Land Use Policy 46, 304-13. DOI:10.1016/j.landusepol.2015.03.015
Ansell N, Tsoeu S, Hajdu F 2015 Women’s changing domestic responsibilities in neoliberal Africa: a relational time-space analysis of Lesotho’s garment industry. Gender, Place and Culture 22 (3) 363-382 DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2013.855712
Ansell N, Hajdu F, Robson E and van Blerk L 2014 Reconceptualizing temporality in young lives: Exploring young people’s current and future livelihoods in AIDS-affected southern Africa. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 39 (3) 333–475 DOI: 10.1111/tran.12041
Hajdu F, Ansell N, Robson E, van Blerk L 2013 Rural young people’s opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship in globalised southern Africa: The limitations of targeting policies. International Development Planning Review 35 (2) 155-174.
Ansell N, Robson E, Hajdu F, van Blerk, L 2012 Learning from young people about their lives: using participatory methods to research the impacts of AIDS in southern Africa. Children’s Geographies 10 (2) 169-186.
Ansell N, Hajdu F, Robson E, van Blerk L and Marandet, E 2012 Youth policy, neoliberalism and transnational governmentality: A case study of Lesotho and Malawi In Kraftl P, Horton J and Tucker F (eds.) Critical Geographies of Childhood and Youth: Contemporary Policy and Practice. Bristol, The Policy Press.
Hajdu F, Jacobson K, Salomonsson L, Friman E 2012 “But tractors can’t fly”: A transdisciplinary analysis of neoliberal agricultural development interventions in South Africa. International Journal of Transdisciplinary Research 6 (1) 24-51.
Ansell, N, van Blerk, L, Hajdu F, Robson, E 2011 Spaces, times and critical moments: A relational time-space analysis of the impacts of AIDS on rural youth in Malawi and Lesotho Environment & Planning A 43 (3) 525-544.
Hajdu F, Ansell N, Robson E and van Blerk L 2011 Income generating activities for young people in Southern Africa: Exploring AIDS and other constraints. Geographical Journal 177 (3) 251–263
Ansell N, Robson E, Hajdu F, van Blerk L and Chipeta L 2009 The ‘new variant famine’ hypothesis: moving beyond the household in explaining links between AIDS and food insecurity in southern Africa. Progress in Development Studies 9 (3) 187-208.
External webpage for project on cash transfers and generational relations:
Profile at ResearchGate where most of the papers can be downloaded: