Dr. Hart Nadav Feuer

Research themes
  • Knowledge
  • Politics & Democracy
  • Human Rights
  • Innovation and science policy
Research countries
  • Vietnam
  • Tajikistan
  • Cambodia
  • Burma/ Myanmar
Research projects
Contested Knowledge project (Umkämpftes Wissen)

Political Ecology, Political Economy

Questionnaire Design

Institutions and Actors

Reading & Writing Skills


PhD, Rural Sociology, University of Bonn

MPhil, Development Studies, University of Oxford

1-year Program, Arava Institute for Environmental Studies

BA Economics and Business, Lafayette College

BA German Studies, Lafayette College

Funding institutions

Fritz Thyssen Foundation (project)

Research partners

Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC), Medecine de la Nature, National Center for Traditional Medicine (Cambodia), Development and Appropriate Technology (DATe), Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), Cambodian Development Resource Institute (CDRI)

Research affiliation

ZEFa, Department of Political and Cultural Change

Thesis title

Sustainable Agricultural Techniques and Performance-Oriented Empowerment: An Actor-Network Theory Approach to CEDAC Agricultural and Empowerment Programmes in Cambodia

Thesis abstract

Presently, there is strong evidence to support the position that development strategies focussing on sustainable agriculture, especially low external input cultivation, are rapidly increasing in influence. Investigating the dialectic of the evolution in ideas and practices for sustainable agricultural development is important for an understanding of how and whether this new “shift” will affect poverty and development. Without risky and poorly-understood investments in agrochemical inputs, many poor Cambodian farmers have been able to achieve increased yields over 100% whilst reducing water consumption by employing the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). The promotion of SRI, and its corollary sustainable initiatives, have been hailed as a major success and have seen full integration into national development schemes and international NGO work. Such technology or technique-oriented development programmes often expand into local organising, empowerment and private sector practice. This progression often involves increasingly strict normative prescriptions about how society should be transformed and how this promotes sustainability. Definitions of sustainability, however, tend to be fluid and are thus easily adaptable to new contexts, and easily appropriated to justify various measures. This thesis explores the pathways through which sustainable agricultural programming has transgressed the boundaries of strict ecological sustainability by highlighting the tensions and advantages of the evolving NGO-model of extension, participatory development practice, and socially responsible enterprise. By exploring the agricultural livelihoods of involved Cambodian farmers empirically, and in ethnographic detail, and by analysing the concomitant evolution of organisational discourse and practice, I will show how an initial focus on technical agricultural improvement and poverty-reduction has transformed into grand plans for widespread sustainable enterprise promotion in Cambodia. This has been marked by a shift in accountability that favours a passive, critical mass-based strategy for drawing in previously uninitiated farmers, rather than the grassroots-based micromanagement approach favoured since the inception of rural development programming. I argue that this is symptomatic of the larger convergence of promising sustainable agricultural initiatives upon the reformist, technocentrist and increasingly hegemonic ‘market sustainability’ or ‘developmentalist’ paradigm of sustainable development.

Thesis title

Social Capital, Market Interaction, and Income-generation Capacity: An Analysis of 2 Semi-rural Villages in Cambodia

Thesis abstract

The amount of research concerning the role of social capital in economic development has grown immensely in the previous decade, but measurement and usefulness of the concept still remain very pervasive and inaccessible to policy makers. This work departs from others on the topic of social capital because it differentiates between the collective capacity of shared social networks spurred on by norms and values and those social relations propagated by interactions in the market. Using household data collected in two villages in semi-rural Cambodia, this paper shows that market interactions are an embedded aspect of everyday social relations in the village and enhance the ability of social capital to meaningfully contribute to income. Social market interactions directly contribute to livelihood through improvements and dedication to personal business and contribute indirectly through an enhancement of social capital that capitalizes on group efficiency. Specifically, group efficiency is maintained in the short-term by the survival of the limited-group morality currently existing in the villages. Policies and participatory programs intending to improve the basic social behavior contributing to rural productivity should develop a local environment that draws upon established social structures and encourages mechanisms for enhancing communications with marketplaces and other communities.


Feuer, H.N..  2016.  Our land of milk and honey: Spirituality in the transformation of ecological and heritage production.  In: S. Antony and E. M. Schmidt (eds.): Beyond the Superficial: Making Sense of Food in a Globalized World. Inter-Disciplinary Press.   97-110. 


Feuer, H.  2013.  Pre-industrial Ecological Modernization in Agro-Food and Medicine: Directing the Commodification of Heritage Culture in Cambodia.  Doctoral thesis at  Faculty of Agriculture, University of Bonn.  Further Information
Feuer, Hart Nadav.  2013.  Competitive discourses in civil society: Pluralism in Cambodia’s agricultural development platform.  In: Waibel, G., Ehlert, J., Feuer, H.N. (eds.): Southeast Asia and the Civil Society Gaze: Scoping a contested concept in Cambodia and Vietnam. Routledge.   237-252.  Further Information
Feuer, Hart Nadav.  2013.  Rebuilding Knowledge: Opportunities and Risks for Higher Education in Post-Conflict Regions.  ZEF Working Paper 121 Further Information
Feuer, Hart Nadav; Le Trong, Phuong; Ehlert, Judith.  2013.  Conclusion: The Civil Society Gaze.  In: Waibel, G., Ehlert, J., Feuer, H.N. (eds.): Southeast Asia and the Civil Society Gaze: Scoping a contested concept in Cambodia and Vietnam. Routledge.   253-264.  Further Information
Waibel, Gabi; Ehlert, Judith; Feuer, Hart Nadav.  2013.  Southeast Asia and the Civil Society Gaze: Scoping a contested concept in Cambodia and Vietnam.  Routledge. Oxford. Further Information


Feuer, H.N..  2011.  Negotiating Technical and Ideological Standards for Agroecological Rice Production in Emerging Markets: The Case of Cambodia.  East Asian Science, Technology and Society, 5(4)   : 441-459   . Further Information


Feuer, Hart Nadav.  2007.  Pathologies of Expanding Moral Authority in the United Nations Development System.  Department of International Development, Oxford University Further Information
Feuer, Hart Nadav.  2007.  Freedom as Familiar Markets: Negotiating the Influences of Globalisation on the Marketplace.  Department of International Development, Oxford University Further Information

Additionals, Curriculum Vitae
and Downloads

Hart Nadav Feuer

Associated Researcher

Private website:

Department :
ZEF A: Department of Political and Cultural Change