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Klara Fischer

Klara Fischer
Associate Professor in Rural Development, acting subject chair for Rural Development in the Global South


Food production is at the same time central to humanity and intimately connected with many of the serious challenges to global climate and ecologies. My research interests concern how ideas and practices regarding today's sustainability challenges in food production and natural resource management are negotiated and turned into practice, and in particular how marginalised groups are affected.


I currently teach theory and methodology at our master programme in Rural Development and Natural Resoruce Management 


I am particularly interested in how discourses on agricultural development and technology use are constructed, supported and turned into practice, and to scrutinise these in the light of farmers’ perspectives and everyday challenges. In the case of crop technologies promoted to smallholders as a way to improve their farming and reduce poverty, it is too frequently the case that the technology is decided on as the appropriate solution for a problem that smallholders have not been allowed to take part in framing. Policy makers and scientists spend too little time on figuring out what in fact the problem is that needs to be solved, from farmers’ perspectives. I think that this is a key reason that so much technology transfer fails. I like to take a bottom up approach in my research, aiming to understand problems from farmers’ perspectives and their everyday challenges. I want to understand how different technologies are promoted, and received by farmers and how technology is shaped by its interaction with a range of societal and environmental factors across scale. 

In another, but related, strand of my research I work with veterinary researchers studying smallholders’ perceptions and practices in relation to livestock health and disease and the interaction between local and formal knowledge in veterinary medicine and animal health. The methodology of participatory epidemiology has been crucial to understanding how smallholders prioritise and deal with livestock disease, and also for disease surveillance and eradication (e.g. the eradication of rinderpest in Africa is attributed to such participatory efforts). Engaging with the social science critique and the development of participatory methods in recent years, I have suggested methods for taking the heterogeneity of smallholder communities more effectively into account and for ensuring that veterinary research and interventions reach and are adapted to meet the needs the most marginalised groups.


I have a MSc  in Biology/Nature conservation from Lund University (2002),  a PhD in Rural development studies from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU (2013). I became Associate Professor in Rural Development 2018


I am main supervisor to Anna Arvidsson, PhD student in Rural Development, Department of Urban and Rural Development, SLU

I am  assistant supervisor to Sara Lysholm, PhD student in Clinical Sciences, SLU, and Aphiwe Mkongi, PhD student in Geography at University of Johannesburg.

I was associate supervisor to Linda Engström, PhD in rural Development. You can read her thesis here: and to associate supervisor to Suvi Kokko, PhD student in Economics, you can read her thesis here:

Selected publications

Here you find a selection of my recent publications. For a more complete list, see e.g. Google Scholar:

Fischer, K. (2021). "Why Africa’s New Green Revolution is failing–Maize as a commodity and anti-commodity in South Africa." Geoforum in press.

Fischer, K., Kokko, S., & McConville, J. (2021). No legitimacy: A study of private sector sanitation development in the Global South. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 38, 68-78. 

Kokko, S., & Fischer, K. (2021). A practice approach to understanding the multilevel dynamics of sanitation innovation. Technology in Society, 64, 101522. 

Fischer, K., K. Schulz & E. Chenais (2020) “‘Can we agree on that?’ Plurality, power and language in participatory research.” Preventive Veterinary Medicine 180, 104991. DOI: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2020.104991

Lysholm S., J. Johansson Wensman, M. Munyeme & K. Fischer (2020) “Perceptions and practices among Zambian sheep and goat traders concerning small ruminant health and disease.” PLOS ONE 15(6): e0233611. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0233611 

Fischer, K., Sjöström, K., Stiernström, A., & Emanuelson, U. (2019). Dairy farmers' perspectives on antibiotic use: A qualitative study. Journal of Dairy Science. doi:10.3168/jds.2018-15015

Fischer, K., F. Giertta & F. Hajdu (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

Chenais, E. & K. Fischer (2018) “Increasing the local relevance of epidemiological research: Situated knowledge of cattle disease among Basongora pastoralists in Uganda.” Frontiers in Veterinary Science 5:119. DOI: 10.3389/fvets.2018.00119

Fischer, K. & F. Hajdu (2017) “The importance of the will to improve: How ‘sustainability’ sidelined local livelihoods in a carbon-forestry investment in Uganda.” Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning 20 (3):328-341. DOI: 10.1080/1523908X.2017.1410429

Fischer, K. (2016). “Why new crop technology is not scale-neutral – A critique of the expectations for a crop-based African Green Revolution.” Research Policy 45 (6):1185-1194. DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2016.03.007

Fischer, K. & F. Hajdu (2015) “Does raising maize yields lead to poverty reduction? A case study of the Massive Food Production Programme in South Africa.”  Land Use Policy 46 (0):304-313. DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2015.03.015.

Fischer, K., J. van den Berg & C. Mutengwa (2015) “Is Bt maize effective in improving South African smallholder agriculture?” South African Journal of Science 111 (1-2):15-16. DOI: 10.17159/sajs.2015/a0092.

Jacobson, K. & A. I. Myhr (2013). “GM crops and smallholders: Biosafety and local practice.” The Journal of Environment & Development 22 (1):104 - 124. DOI: 10.1177/1070496512466856 


Senior Lecturer at the Department of Urban and Rural Development; Division of Environmental Communication
Telephone: +4618671771, +46701523479
Postal address:
Inst för stad och land, Box 7012
Visiting address: Ulls väg 27, Uppsala