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Personal profile

Research interests

Dr David Cooper is a social anthropologist specialising in smallholder agriculture, land rights, and poverty reduction, with a particular focus on post-revolutionary and populist political contexts.

David’s long-term ethnographic work in Nicaragua documents the ways in which small farmers negotiate the afterlives of agrarian reform, exploring how farmers’ aspirations for state-backed development and economic security play out in the context of severely curtailed government capacity. His various publications show how the incumbent government’s stated project of ‘Citizen Power’—which claims to incorporate the Nicaraguan people in popular organisations—is experienced in the context of a weak state, threadbare public service provision, and institutional fragmentation.

He is currently developing a new research project exploring the ways in which the ongoing digital integration of small farmers in the Global South has opened new possibilities for agricultural technical extension, property registration, market access, and poverty reduction. The project will ethnographically chart the way data-driven initiatives targeting smallholders are being developed and implemented, and explore what we can learn from attending closely to the experiences of farmers themselves.

David teaches units in social anthropology and material culture. Students are welcome to book an appointment during his office hours here.


  • smallholder
  • smallholder agriculture
  • small farmers
  • small-scale farming
  • cooperatives
  • development
  • revolution
  • revolutionary politics
  • populism
  • agrarian reform
  • Nicaragua
  • Latin America
  • Central America
  • FSLN
  • Sandinistas
  • welfare
  • poverty reduction
  • Poverty and Social Exclusion
  • Poverty and Inequality
  • Anthropology
  • Social Anthropology


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