Ruth Hall

Associate Professor Ruth Hall joined PLAAS in 2002. She holds a DPhil in Politics from the University of Oxford, where she previously obtained an MPhil in Development Studies. Her doctoral work focused on the interests, actors and discourses that influenced the development of South African land reform policy. Key research interests that have shaped her work at PLAAS are: land tenure, restitution and redistribution, gender and development policy, and broad-based agricultural development. Her work has strongly emphasised the role of rights-based policy approaches to tenure for farm workers and other poor landholders.

Until recently, her work at PLAAS focussed on research and policy advice on land and agrarian reform within South Africa. In recent years, however, her focus has extended beyond South African land and agrarian policy to incorporate a more international perspective. Her main research now is on land rights and the future of food and farming in sub-Saharan Africa. She leads a five-country study on the politics and impacts of large-scale land acquisitions, and convenes a small grants programme of twenty smaller studies covering fourteen African countries.

From being relegated to the backwaters in international development agendas, agriculture and agricultural production have recently re-emerged as central concerns for policymakers, activists and researchers. The past five years have seen a marked rise in international private and public-sector investments in farmland, in Africa and elsewhere. Some critics have dubbed these large-scale leases of public and customary land as ‘land grabs’, which could have massive implications for food security in Africa, directly impacting on access to land for Africans and on Africa’s ability to benefit from food value chains. Ruth's research highlights how ‘overseas land investments’ could lead to an even greater concentration of power in the few agrofood multinationals, and underlines that it is essential that African realities and the local concerns of rural African farmers inform global policies.

Works by this author

Building Back Better after COVID-19

Food in the Time of Coronavirus: Why We Should Be Very, Very Afraid

Large-Scale Land Deals in Southern Africa: Voices of the People

International and Regional Guidelines on Land Governance and Land-based Investments: An Agenda for African States

Inclusive Business Models in Agriculture? Learning From Smallholder Cane Growers in Mozambique

Narratives of Scarcity: Understanding the 'Global Resource Grab'

Reframing the New Alliance Agenda: A Critical Assessment Based on Insights from Tanzania

The Impact of Land Restitution and Land Reform on Livelihoods

Land and Agrarian Reform in Integrated Development Plans (IDPs)

Land and Agrarian Reform in South Africa: A Status Report, 2004

State, Market and Community: The Potential and Limits of Participatory Land Reform Planning in South Africa

The Case for Re-Strategising Spending Priorities to Support Small-Scale Farmers in South Africa

Rights without Illusions: The Potential and Limits of Rights-based Approaches to Securing Land Tenure in Rural South Africa

The Next Great Trek? South African Commercial Farmers Move North

Evaluating Land and Agrarian Reform in South Africa: Land Redistribution

Evaluating Land and Agrarian Reform in South Africa: Rural Restitution

Evaluating Land and Agrarian Reform in South Africa: Farm Tenure

Evaluating Land and Agrarian Reform in South Africa: Final Report

Budgeting for Land Reform

A Fresh Start for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform?