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Centre of African Studies: People


Gareth James

Gareth James
Gareth James
Edinburgh UK
Research Interests
Land Reform, Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods, Zimbabwe, Southern Africa, Institutions and institutional change, Contract Farming, Global Agro-Food Systems, Quantitative Methods in Social Research


In March 2000 land occupations in Zimbabwe intensified, spreading throughout the country and forcing the government to implement the Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP). Using survey data from over 500 rural households, and in-depth interviews with some 150 farmers, the thesis aims to generate insights into the outcomes of the FTLRP for smallholders in two districts of Zimbabwe. The findings show that most of those who received land were ordinary, poor and near-landless people from nearby communal areas, many of whom have managed to use the land productively and increase their asset base. However, several constraints remain including the lack of affordable inputs, credit, markets and extensions services. In response, many have turned to contract farming while also diversifying livelihoods to include a variety of non-farm income generating activities. There are also a series of as yet unresolved issues around tenure, and land rights for women and former farm workers, which are also addressed. The thesis also challenges and contibutes to wider debates on livelihoods, deagrarianisation, class-based agrarian change, diversification, and so on. 

Publications & papers

Journal articles: 

James, G. (forthcoming). 'The Future of Agriculture in Zimbabwe? The expansion of contract farming and the impact on smallholder income and production'. Accepted for publicaiton in Afriche e Orienti.

James, G. (2014). 'Zimbabwe's 'new' smallholders: who are they and where did they come from?', Review of African Political Economy, Vol. 41, No. 141, 424-440.

Book reviews: 

'Agricultural Development and Food Security in Africa: The Impact of Chinese, Indian and Brazilian Investments' by Fantu Cheru and Renu Modi (eds), and 'The Great African Land Grab? Agricultural Investments and the Global Food System' by Lorenzo Cotula, International Development Planning Review, Vol. 37, No. 4, October 2015.

'Zimbabwe takes back its land' by Joseph Hanlon, Jeanette Manjengwa and Teresa Smart, and 'Zimbabwe's Fast Track Land Reform' by Prosper B. Matondi, in African Affairs, 113 (451), April 2014.

Conference papers

James, G. (2015). 'The expansion of contract farming in Zimbabwe: causes, consequencies and implications for food security'. Paper presented at the workshop 'The New Harvest', University of Bologna, March 2015.

James, G. (2014). 'Zimbabwe's Fast Track Land Reform: Land use and production outcomes'. Paper prepared for the ASAUK Conference, University of Sussex, September 2014. 

James, G. & B. Kinsey (2013) 'Farming under contract: the experience of smallholders in Zimbabwe'. Paper presented at the 5th European Conference on African Studies, Centre for African Studies, University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal, June 2013.

Other works

James, G. (2015). 'A review of the public petitions process, 2009-2015'. Scottish Parliament Infromation Centre. Scottish Parliament: Edinburgh.


2015 Ph.D. African Studies, University of Edinburgh

2010 M.Sc. (by research) African Studies, University of Edinburgh 

2009 B.A. (Hons) Social Science, Glasgow Caledonian University, 1st class

Teaching experience

I am an Associate Fellow of the HEA, and currently tutoring at the University of Edinurgh. I have taught on the following courses at Edinburgh:

African Politics: Theories and Debates (UG); Core Quantitative Data Analysis (PG); Introduction to Politics and International Relations (UG); Introduction to Political Data Analysis (UG); Introduction to Statistics for Social Sciences (UG); and Democracy in Comparative Perspective (UG, marking only).