Program Faculty and Affiliates

Madeleine Fairbairn
  • Title
    • Assistant Professor
  • Division Social Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Environmental Studies Department
  • Affiliations Community Studies Program, Science & Justice Research Center, Research Center for the Americas
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Interdisciplinary Sciences Building, 426
  • Office Hours Fall 2019: Mondays 2:30-4:30
  • Mail Stop Environmental Studies
  • Mailing Address
    • 1156 High Street
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Agroecology and Agriculture, Sociology of Development, Environmental Justice
  • Courses ENVS 130B Principles of Sustainable Agriculture, ENVS 100/L Ecology and Society, ENVS 80F Introduction to Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems

Summary of Expertise

Agro-food systems, environmental sociology, political ecology, globalization and development, ownership and access to land


Research Interests

 I do qualitative sociological research on the political economy of the global agro-food system. I am particularly interested in how transnational economic processes shape access to food, land, and other natural resources globally. An earlier research project focused on alternative agro-food movements, particularly the transnational social movement for “food sovereignty.” My current project explores how growing interest in farmland on the part of the financial sector is reshaping farmland markets and posing new regulatory challenges. Fieldwork for this project has taken me to Brazil, Mozambique, and Wall Street.

Biography, Education and Training

Ph.D., Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

M.S., Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

B.S., Development Sociology/Natural Resource Management, Cornell University

Honors, Awards and Grants

2015. Bharadwaj-Wolf Prize for an outstanding article published in the Journal of Peasant Studies by a young scholar

2013. Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS)

2012. Outstanding Student Paper Award, Sociology of Agriculture and Food Research Interest Group of the Rural Sociological Society (RSS)

2011. International Dissertation Research Fellowship, Social Science Research Council (SSRC)

2007. Graduate Research Fellowship, National Science Foundation (NSF)

Selected Publications

Egerer, Monika and Madeleine Fairbairn. 2018. "Gated gardens: Effects of urbanization on community formation and commons management in community gardens." Geoforum 96: 61-

Kish, Zenia and Madeleine Fairbairn. 2018. "Investing for profit, investing for impact: Moral performances in agricultural investment projects." Environment and Planning A. 50(3): 569-588. 

Fairbairn, Madeleine. 2015 “Foreignization, financialization, and land grab regulation.” Journal of Agrarian Change. 15(4): 581-591.

Fairbairn, Madeleine. 2015. “Finance and the agro-food system.” Pp.232-248 in Alessandro Bonanno and Lawrence Busch, eds., Handbook of International Political Economy of Agriculture and Food. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Fairbairn, Madeleine. 2014 “‘Like gold with yield’: Evolving intersections between farmland and finance.” Journal of Peasant Studies. 41(5): 777-795.

Fairbairn, Madeleine. 2014. “‘Just another asset class’?: Neoliberalism, finance and the construction of farmland investment.” Pp. 245-262 in Alessandro Bonanno and Steven Wolf, eds., The Neoliberal Regime in the Agri-Food Sector: Crisis, Resilience and Restructuring. London: Earthscan.

Fairbairn, Madeleine, Jonathan Fox, S. Ryan Isakson, Michael Levien, Nancy Peluso, Shahra Razavi, Ian Scoones, and K. Sivaramakrishnan. 2014. “Global agrarian transformations: New directions in agrarian political economy.” (Editorial introduction to special issue.) Journal of Peasant Studies. 41(5): 777-795.

Fairbairn, Madeleine. 2013. “Indirect dispossession: Domestic power imbalances and foreign access to land in Mozambique.” Development and Change. 44(2): 335-356.

Fairbairn, Madeleine. 2012. “Framing transformation: The counter-hegemonic potential of food sovereignty in the U.S. context.” Agriculture and Human Values. 29(2): 217-230.

Fairbairn, Madeleine. 2010. “Framing resistance: International food regimes and the roots of food sovereignty.” Pp. 15-32 in Hannah Wittman, Annette Desmarais, and Nettie Wiebe, eds., Food Sovereignty: Reconnecting Food, Nature and Community.  Point Black, Nova Scotia: Fernwood Publishing.