Arturo Escobar is Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Research Associate at Universidad del Valle, Cali. He has been visiting professor at universities in Argentina, Ecuador, Catalunya, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, and England. His main interests are: political ecology, design, and the anthropology of development, social movements, and technoscience. Over the past twenty-five years, he has worked closely with several Afro-Colombian social movements in the Colombian Pacific, particular the Process of Black Communities (PCN). His most well-known book is Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (1995, 2nd Ed. 2011). His most recent books are Territories of Difference: Place, Movements, Life, Redes (2008; 2010 for the Spanish edition); Una minga para el postdesarrollo (2013); Sentipensar con la Tierra. Nuevas lecturas sobre desarrollo, territorio y diferencia (2014); and Autonomía y diseño: la realización de lo comunal (2016; English version in press). Some of his works can be downloaded from http://aescobar.web.unc.edu/
Bond, a Professor of Political Economy, combines political economy and political ecology in his research and applied work. He is a professor of political economy at the Wits School of Governance and honorary professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal School of Built Environment and Development Studies where from 2004 until 2016 he directed the Centre for Civil Society. Prior to that he was a professor at the WSG from 1997 until 2004 and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and also held visiting professorships at York University and the University of California/Berkeley on sabbaticals. During the 1990s he served at the Johannesburg NGOs Planact and the National Institute for Economic Policy and from 1994 until 2000 drafted more than a dozen government policy documents, including the White Paper on Reconstruction and Development. Bond has written several books.
He earned his doctorate in economic geography under the supervision of David Harvey at Johns Hopkins following (non-degreed) studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance and an undergraduate economics degree at Swarthmore College. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1961, was raised in the US states of Alabama and Maryland, and since 1989 has been a resident of Southern Africa.
Jennifer Franco is a researcher working on land and rural politics issues. After receiving a PhD in politics in 1997 in the US, she began working with the Philippine solidarity group in the Netherlands, and with local peasant organizations, rural community organizing and human rights groups, and research outfits in the Philippines in two regions faced with extreme landlord resistance to redistributive agrarian reform. She began working with TNI in the mid-2000s, on several projects on various topics involving local peasant movement and rural reform activists, human rights activists, and activist researchers from various countries and regions. In 2010 she joined the College of Humanities and Development (COHD) at the China Agricultural University in Beijing as an adjunct faculty and travels there twice a year to give seminars and work with junior faculty and MA and PhD students. She has lived in the US, Philippines, Canada and the Netherlands.
A feminist communist researcher and organizer from Beirut and Sour, Jana is an urban planner and designer who works in slums and refugee camps with different marginalized communities. Jana writes in Al-Akhbar newspaper and Al-Adab magazine, on feminism, art and politics.
She has an undergrad in Landscape Architecture, working on the production of political historical discourse through space. She also has a Master in Urban Design from the American University of Beirut. Specializing in slums and the different forms of informal housing, her thesis was based on a three-year ethnographic study in Sour city, mapping the dwellers’ relationship with space and proposing a blueprint of low-income housing based on existing socio-spatial practices.
For four years, she lived and conducted anthropological research in the south of Lebanon and Palestinian refugee camps. Her writings in the local newspapers and magazines are one way of producing a body of work which can be accessed by the communities she works with.
She worked for eight months on an ethnographic study in four villages in Marjeyoun, a rural area which was under Israeli occupation till 2000. The study investigated the situation of the agricultural sector in Marjeyoun, trying to understand how do farmers adapt and organize to compensate the absence of support from the state.
She works on issues related to women and space, cooperatives, refugees and refugee camps. She is a political organizer in Beirut and the south of Lebanon, where she works with female farmers and youth.
Jun Borras is Professor of Agrarian Studies at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, Netherlands and Editor-In-Chief of Journal of Peasant Studies.
He is an Adjunct Professor in China Agricultural University, Beijing, a Fellow of the Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Institute for Development and Food Policy/Food First. He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Journal of Agrarian Change, Canadian Journal of Development Studies, and Alternatives Sud. His thematic area of work is on agrarian politics, specifically: land politics and policies, (trans)national agrarian movements, food politics, forestry, state-society interactions in rural development, rural conflict, biofuels, ‘flex crops’, land grabbing and food sovereignty. Geographic areas of research interest: Southeast Asia, China, Southern Africa, and Southern America. He also studies international institutional ‘spaces’ of state- society interactions.
The emphasis of his work is on bridging academic research, development policy practice and social movement activism. This has been influenced by his professional background: He has been deeply involved in rural social movements since the early 1980s in the Philippines, and later, internationally. He was part of the core organizing team that established the international peasant and farmer’s movement La Via Campesina. He has helped establish a global network of academics, development policy experts and social movement activists, the Initiatives in Critical Agrarian Studies (ICAS), helps coordinate its work (www.iss.nl/icas), and in setting up the Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI) (www.iss.nl/ldpi), a global network of researchers studying land grabbing. He has helped in establishing a network of scholars and activists working on the theme of the rise of the BRICS countries and middle income countries (MICs) and its implications for global agrarian transformations, the “BRICS Initiatives for Critical Agrarian Studies” or BICAS (www.iss.nl/bicas).
Alberto Acosta is an Ecuadorian economist and the country’s former minister of energy and mining. He was the driving force behind the ground-breaking Yasuní-ITT Initiative, an offer by Ecuador to fight climate change by forgoing oil exploration and production in a large tract of untouched rainforest. Acosta is also the ex-president of the Constituent Assembly responsible for drawing up the now famous Montecristi Constitution, which took effect in 2008 and established protection for the rights of nature. Acosta ran unsuccessfully against Rafael Correa for president in 2013—one of eight presidential candidates. He is currently a researcher at FLASCO-Ecuador (Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences).