Photo of Lydia Medland

Dr Lydia Medland

BA, Masters, MRes, PhD

  • BS8 1TU


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

I am a multidisciplinary researcher focusing on work in food systems.

My work is currently supported by a Postdoctoral Fellowship Award from the British Academy.

In my current research project, I explore the social dimensions of the food systems that supply the city of Bristol. This project is titled: Working for ‘five a day’: risk and resilience in the changing food system, a multi-sited ethnography of the labour that feeds one city. This research project will involve research in five sites of production that supply Bristol, four are in the UK, one is in Spain.

The research that I carried out for my PhD (University of Bristol), focused on the precarious work of tomato-pickers in the context of a hub (or enclave) of global food production in the south of Morocco. I found that workers were deeply affected by the structural conditions of the agri-food system which dominated in the region; workers contested such conditions actively. My thesis developed the category of an enclave of global food production by illustrating the socio and economic manifestations of this. My PhD was supported by a 1+3 scholarship from the ESRC and was awarded the Hilary Hartley Prize for best thesis in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies.

I became interested in the year-round food system for fresh tomatoes during my Masters research, first in Spain (through the University of Córdoba) and then in the UK (MRes, University of Bristol). This research focused on the labour and social implications of organic agriculture as experienced by migrant workers in greenhouse production. I have published two articles on this work. One legal piece questions the ‘seasonal’ justification for temporary workers, whom, I argue, are needed almost year-round. The earlier piece illustrates the areas of minor alleviation of working conditions that I found were evident for migrant workers in contexts of organic production.

I enjoy teaching and have previously taught or supervised students from several connected disciplinary areas at the University of Bristol (Human Geography, Law, Sociology and Politics) as well as in the Department of Social Policy and Policy Sciences at the University of Bath. My approach to teaching is deliberative and participatory. I am interested in students’ perspectives and encourage them to bring their knowledge into discussions and activities.

Prior to re-entering academia in 2013, I worked for five years in an international NGO, Access Info Europe, focusing on transparency and access to information across Europe and globally.

Twitter: @Lydyact


This blog is an informal and ongoing reflection on research and food.

Structured keywords and research groupings

  • Cabot Institute Food Security Research
  • Migration Mobilities Bristol
  • Perspectives on Work
  • SPAIS Gender Research Centre
  • Global Political Economy

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Research Output

  • 2 Chapter in a book
  • 2 Article (Academic Journal)
  • 1 Working paper and Preprints
Open Access
  • 319 Downloads (Pure)

    Language learning as research rehearsal: Preparation for multi-linguistic field research in Morocco

    Medland, L., 31 May 2017, (Accepted/In press) Learning and Using Languages in Ethnographic Research. Gibb, R., Tremlett, A. & Danero Iglesias, J. (eds.).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

    Misconceiving ‘seasons’ in global food systems: the case of the EU Seasonal Workers Directive

    Medland, L., 30 Oct 2017, In : European Law Journal. 23, 3-4, p. 157–171 15 p., Volume 23, Issue 3-4.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

    Open Access
  • 1 Citation (Scopus)
    250 Downloads (Pure)

    Supervised Work

    A harvest of bare living conditions: A Moroccan enclave within the global food system

    Author: Medland, L. K., 25 Jun 2019

    Supervisor: Novitz, T. A. (Supervisor), Carmel, D. E. (External person) (Supervisor) & Flint, A. G. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)