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Klara Fischer

Klara Fischer
Associate Professor in Rural Development, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Communication


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.

While the biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis are both real and urgent to address, we must explore how the burden for needed changes is distributed, between the global North and South, within countries and local communities, and between humans and the environment. Asking these questions is key to my research. Geographically most of my research is located in Africa (esp. Uganda & South Africa) where I study how agricultural and natural resource policies and wider development agendas affect African smallholders.

Theoretically my research is situated within the fields of political ecology and Science and Technology Studies (STS), drawing broadly on theories from the critical social sciences. 


In my work on seed governance and genetically modified (GM) crops in smallholder systems I have outlined how global agreements, the concentration of the seed sector and national agricultural development policies shape (limit) the possibilities for South African smallholders to make use of new advancements in biotechnology. I have, for example, described the mechanisms that gave policy priority to yield levels over other values in farming and how this in turn undermines smallholders’ conservation of farm biodiversity and increases livelihood risk. While most of my research in this field is located in Africa, in an ongoing EU funded project- GEAP3 we take a broader grip on the domestic and international ramifications of the EU’s policy and regulatory approach to genome editing in agriculture with focus on policy, practice and public perception.

Another key strand of my research concerns how global agreements and public and private investments in climate change mitigation are negotiated and how they affect smallholders in the global South. In completed and ongoing research projects I for example investigate Swedish public and private sector investments in carbon forestry in Africa with a focus on how sustainability is framed and negotiated from UN level, through intermediaries to participating smallholders in Uganda. 

While most of my research focuses on Africa, I also have some research in Europe. The importance of wild pollinators for our ecosystems has been well established in research and this is also recognized in EU policy today. Despite this, land and natural resource management practices that are “pollinator-friendly” remain uncommon and there are remaining widespread declines of wild pollinating insects across Europe. In the large interdisciplinary Horizon 2020 project ‘Safeguarding wild pollinators’ we take a political ecology approach to understanding the threats to pollinators and implications on farming systems. Together, Florence Damiens René van der Wal and Riccardo Bommarco and I aim to fill an important research gap on the knowledge politics of pollinator governance in Europe. The study will feed directly into analyses of collaborative approaches for implementation by project partners across Europe.

I am passionate about interdsiciplinary research, especially interdisciplinary endevours to build understanding about the human/nature intersection. I am currently leading one of two funded project in the newly established Interdiciplinary academy- IDA, at SLU, where we will explore the ontologies, epistemologies and values guiding key academic discourses on sustainable agricultre.



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. since September 2022 I am employed as Senior Lecturer in Environmental Communication


I am main supervisor to Anna Arvidsson, PhD student in Rural Development, and Christoffer Söderlund Kanarp, PhD student in Environmental Communication, both at Department of Urban and Rural Development, SLU

I am  assistant supervisor to Aphiwe Mkongi, Department of Geography, University of Johannesburg.

I was assistant supervisor to Sara Lysholm, PhD student in Clinical Sciences, SLU, Linda Engström, PhD in rural Development and Suvi Kokko, PhD student in Economics.

Selected publications

Below you find a selection of my recent publications. For a more complete list, see e.g. Google Scholar or  Orcid

Fischer, K., Johnson, E., Visser, V., & Shackleton, S. (2024). Social drivers and differentiated effects of deagrarianisation: A longitudinal study of smallholder farming in South Africa's Eastern Cape province. Journal of Rural Studies, 106, 103200.

Fischer, K., Mnukwa, N., & Bengtsson, A. (2023). The Covid pandemic, cultivation and livelihoods in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. Agrekon, 62(3-4), 279-291.

Fischer, K. and J. S. Rock. (2023) "The scientific narrative around new food technologies needs to change." Nature Reviews Bioengineering 1.11: 786-787.

Ely, A., B. Friedrich, D. Glover, K. Fischer, G. Davis Stone, A. Kingiri, M. A. Schnurr (2023) "Comparing Regulatory Cultures and the Governance of Genome Edited Crops in the USA, the UK, and Germany," Science, Technology, & Human Values, Manuscript ID ST&HV- 2021-03-108

Arvidsson, A. K. Fischer, K. Hansen and J. Kiguli (2022) “Pigs as a shortcut to money? Social traps in smallholder pig production in northern Uganda” Journal of Rural Studies, 94, 319-325. Doi:

Fischer, K. (2022). Why Africa’s New Green Revolution is failing–Maize as a commodity and anti-commodity in South Africa. Geoforum, 130, 96-104.

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

Publications list: