New Publication: South Africa & the Group Areas Act

Cochrane, L. and Chellan, W. (2017) "The Group Areas Act affects us all": Apartheid and Socio-Religious Change in the Cape Town Muslims Community, South Africa. Oral History Forum.

Abstract: Oral history interviews with elders of the Cape Town Muslim community were conducted in order to record and explore the socio-religious changes that occurred over the last century. Our research explored experiences related to culture, society, language, religion, education, traditions, family life, dress, food and values. The primary event that was consistently identified by elders as a focal cause of change was the Group Areas Act (1950), which was a policy of the South African Apartheid government that resulted in the forced relocation of many members of the Muslim community in and around Cape Town, South Africa. This paper explores how individuals experienced the Group Areas Act at the time of its implementation and how elders understand this Act as contributing to long-lasting socio-religious change. Rather than draw conclusions, point to causes of change and outline specific outcomes of the Act, we end this article with diverse, inconclusive and debated experiences: a reflection of the oral histories of the Cape Town Muslim community. 

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New Publication: Who is Defining Effectiveness?

Cochrane, L. and Thornton, A. (2017) Charity Rankers: Who is Defining Effectiveness? (Ch. 18, p 108-113). In Smart Risks: How Small Grants are Helping to Solve Some of the World's Biggest Problems, edited by J. Lentfer and T. Cothran. Practical Action Publishing: Warwickshire.

Preview (first page) of chapter available here, email me for a full copy.

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Doctoral Dissertation: Strengthening Food Security in Rural Ethiopia

Cochrane, L. 2017. Strengthening Food Security in Rural Ethiopia. Doctoral Dissertation, University of British Columbia. 

Abstract: Food insecurity in rural areas of southern Ethiopia is widespread; in recent years over half of all communities in this region have been reliant upon emergency support. However, food security status varies significantly from year to year, as the region experiences variations in rainfall patterns. Research is required to better understand how food security can be strengthened. To do so, this research was driven by three research questions. First, what makes smallholder farmers in southern Ethiopia vulnerable to food insecurity. Second, according to the literature, the adoption of programs and services is low, and thus a community-based assessment was undertaken to understand why. The third question reflected on the methodology – a participatory, co-produced approach, evaluating whether this form of engaged research enabled positive change. The findings suggest that vulnerability to food insecurity differs by scale. At the community level, access to irrigation infrastructure strengthened food security, and was the most transformative difference between the communities. Within communities, food security distribution was complex and few generalizations can be made. The participatory processes identified that research often makes invisible the purposeful and insightful choices farmers make. When surveyed, they are asked to provide generalizations about input use, crop choice and practices, when in reality each crop, input and practice varies. Similarly, some commonly used measures of vulnerability can also be expressions of security; aggregated averages obfuscate localized inequality. For some programs and services, adoption was found to be quite high – it was only when all services were analyzed as a package that adoption was low. However, not all programs and services served the food insecure households, and the reasons for this are explored in detail. The participatory, co-produced approach enabled unique research questions and metrics and added significant value to the research process, which may also enable long-term positive change to programs and services.

Full text is available for download here.

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New Publication: Seeing Like an Anthropologist

Cochrane, L. (2017) Seeing Like an Anthropologist: Anthropology in Practice. In Cultural Anthropology: An Open Access Textbook, edited by N. Brown, L. Gonzalez, T. McIlwraith, P. Stein and J. Thompson. Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges.

Part of an Open Access textbook for Cultural Anthropology. Full textbook available here:

Chapter Seeing like an Anthropologist: Anthropology in Practice available here.

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New Publication: Collaborative Adaptation Research in Africa and Asia

​Cochrane, L., Cundill, G., Ludi, E., New, M., Nicholls, R. J., Wester, P., Cantin, B., Murali, K. S., Leone, M., Kituyi, E. and Landry, M.-E. (2017) A Reflection on Collaborative Adaptation Research in Africa and Asia. Regional Environmental Change.

AbstractThe reality of global climate change demands novel approaches to science that are reflective of the scales at which changes are likely to occur, and of the new forms of knowledge required to positively influence policy to support vulnerable populations. We examine some of the opportunities and challenges presented by a collaborative, transdisciplinary research project on climate change adaptation in Africa and Asia that utilized a hotspot approach. A large-scale effort to develop appropriate baselines was a key challenge at the outset of the program, as was the need to develop innovative methodologies to enable researchers to work at appropriate spatial scales. Efforts to match research to the biophysical scales at which change occurs need to be aware of the mismatch that can develop between these regional scales and the governance scales at which decisions are made.

Full paper available from journal as an Open Access article.

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New Publication: Participatory Geoweb

​Corbett, J. and Cochrane, L. (2017) Engaging with the Participatory Geoweb: Exploring the Dynamics of VGI. In Volunteered Geographic Information and the Future of Geospatial Data edited by C. Campelo, M. Bertolotto and P. Corcoran. IGI Global.

Abstract: Maps were historically used as tools of the elite to maintain and expand power and control. The development of participatory mapmaking and the geoweb have opened new avenues for broader citizen engagement and therefore challenge traditional power dynamics. This chapter analyzes three examples and presents experiential learning around participatory processes and VGI contributions. Specifically we explore who is contributing their information, what are their motivations and incentives, in what ways do users interact with available technologies, and how is this contributing to change? We conclude by discussing the roles of motivations, the type of contribution, organizational capacity and leadership, and objectives. In comparing and contrasting these case studies we examine the individual and organizational dynamics of engagement, and how this can better inform the discourse about VGI.

Drop me an email if you would like a full copy. View the first couple of pages.

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New Publication: Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity in Ethiopia

Cochrane, L. and Gecho, Y. (2016) The Dynamics of Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity in Southern Ethiopia (p. 139-148). In Responses to Disasters and Climate Change: Understanding Vulnerability and Fostering Resilience, edited by M. Companion and M. Chaiken. CRC Press: Boca Raton.


  • ​Agriculture accounts for more than 40% of the Ethiopian economy, 85% of all employment, and is driven primarily by rural smallholders. Those living in rural areas face a range of short-term, seasonal, annual, and long-term vulnerabilities. This chapter analyzes the range of dynamic, and sometimes unpredictable, challenges in Wolaita Zone, southern Ethiopia. We explore how individuals proactively manage vulnerabilities and seek means to enhance their adaptive capacity. These findings demonstrate that smallholders are engaging in change, highlighting the important role of their agency in understanding vulnerability and resilience.

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New Publication: Debt & Rural Development (Ethiopia)

Cochrane, L. and Thornton, A. (2017) A Socio-Cultural Analysis of Smallholder Borrowing and Debt in Southern Ethiopia. Journal of Rural Studies 49: 69-77.


  • This paper combines qualitative and quantitative research methods in an exploratory study of borrowing and debt in rural southern Ethiopia in order to understand the complexities of the rural finance system and frequency of borrowing and debt in rural, smallholder settings. By comparing geospatial location in relation to access to infrastructure, markets and services within a single agroecological setting, we explore the ways in which these factors influence the frequency of borrowing, sources, amounts and interest rates involved, as well as the duration and extent of borrowing and debt. We find great variation amongst the communities studied, highlighting the importance of the localized nature of borrowing and debt and identify barriers and opportunities that will support the (re)adjusting of policies and programs that would enable smallholder households to overcome cycles of borrowing and debt, and build assets.
The full article is gated. But available here. Abstract and further publication details available via the link above. If you would like a copy of the article, send me an email.
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New Publication: Participation & Empowerment

Corbett, J., Cochrane, L. and Gill, M. (2016) Powering Up: Revisiting Participatory GIS and Empowerment. The Cartographic Journal

  • Since 1996, participatory GIS (PGIS) has facilitated avenues through which public participation can occur. One of the ways practitioners articulate social change associated with PGIS interventions has been to qualify success using the term 'empowerment'. This paper explores the extent to which PGIS academic literature has utilised, defined, measured, and analysed empowerment. This research will demonstrate the degree to which PGIS has, from 1996 to 2014, appropriately and adequately taken into account the causative and direct relationship between a PGIS intervention and empowerment. This article identifies works broadly dealing with PGIS, then searches within that subset of literature for the term 'empowerment.' The findings are both quantitatively and qualitatively assessed to explore the trends within the PGIS literature over time and to contextualise the ways in which empowerment has been identified, understood, and articulated. We conclude with a discussion on the extent to which future PGIS research and practice has the ability to disrupt power inequalities.
The full article is gated. Abstract and further publication details available via the link above. If you would like a copy of the article, send me an email.
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New Publication: Land Grabbing & Human Rights

Cochrane, L. (2016) Land Grabbing. In Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics, 2nd Edition, edited by P. Thompson and D. Kaplan.


  • The application of force to coerce individuals to illegally give up their land or the otherwise illegal dispossession of land, a process known as "land grabbing," is a violation of human rights – the arbitrary deprivation of property outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 17). Land grabbing is the most legally and ethically problematic form of large-scale land acquisitions. However, if direct or indirect force is not applied in the process of large-scale land acquisitions nor any laws broken, and the individuals involved receive sufficient benefit in exchange for their land, are the exchanges necessarily ethical? Based upon a human rights-based perspective, this chapter argues that human rights cannot be analyzed in isolation, but must be evaluated in totality in order to contextualize the vulnerability and duress experienced by those transferring their land. In doing so, it expands our conceptualization of what is considered "land grabbing" and what is not. Over the last decade, the majority of large-scale land acquisitions have taken place in countries where human rights are violated. In order for large-scale land acquisitions to be ethical, human rights must be met and protected to ensure that choices are truly free and fair. This is not a practical argument, made to improve the process, but an ethical argument based upon protecting the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers and pastoralists, ensuring their choices are truly free and fair, not simply the product of a lack of options made from a position of vulnerability.
The full article is gated. Abstract and further publication details available via the link above. If you would like a copy of the article, send me an email.
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Logan Cochrane

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