Department of Global Development Studies


Global Development Studies

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Diana Córdoba

Diana Córdoba

Assistant Professor

PhD (Social Sciences),
  Wageningen University, the Netherlands

MSc (International Development Studies),
  Wageningen University, the Netherlands

BSc (Sociology),
  Universidad del Valle, Colombia

Phone:  613-533-6000, extension x78622
Fax:  613-533-2986

Mackintosh-Corry Hall, A404
Department of Global Development Studies
Queen's University
Kingston, ON K7L 3N6


Office Hours:
By Appointment

Research Interests

My research focuses on the study of social and environmental impacts of new practices, technologies, and models of rural and territorial development and the role played by the state, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), social movements and agrarian organizations in the implementation of these initiatives. It seeks to advance the theoretical and empirical understandings of the interlinked global challenges of agrarian transformation, social justice, and environmental sustainability. I draw on critical agrarian studies and political ecology approaches to emphasize the interactions between local situations and wider economic and political processes in which power influences the (uneven) distribution of resources and shapes development discourses, interventions and institutions. I have thus far focused on Latin America, specifically Bolivia, Brazil, and Colombia, and in recent years I have initiated research efforts in Argentina, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Mexico.

A key focal area of my research efforts includes the role of the state and models of collective action of different excluded sectors (peasants, indigenous and Afro-descendent communities), vis-à-vis neoliberal politics. My research in Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil investigate whether the ascendance to power of progressive governments supported by social movements create ‘post-neoliberal’ alternatives for implementing development approaches, or whether, on the contrary, they too continue with the reproduction of neoliberalism. In Mexico, a textbook example of successive neoliberal governments, I study the implementation of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes in the state of Veracruz. In contrast to the critical literature that portray PES schemes as neoliberal models, my work shows how these schemes merged, shaped and strengthened local institutions but also fostered new ways of water governance at the local level towards social transformation.

Another focus of my research is on the role of non-state actors in promoting and implementing non-state interventions, and their complex engagements with the state and rural organizations.  Particularly, I have focused on social technologies —often adopted as managerial tool for project development efficiency in rural interventions— such as participatory approaches and methodologies used by agricultural and environmental NGOs in Bolivia and the deployment of Fair Trade certification schemes in Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru, both intended to promote participation and empowerment of marginalized actors. My research demonstrates that these social technologies are not neutral mechanisms, but rather highly political tools used to govern resource sectors in particular ways. Furthermore, I show that participation and empowerment processes are not only about power but also about finding a balance with the material conditions and expertise fundamental for project implementation and success.


DEVS 352: Technology and Development
DEVS 358: NGOs and Development
DEVS 492:  Political Ecology
DEVS 811:  State Transformations, Resistance and Social Change in The Global South

Selected Publications



Córdoba, D. Participation, Politics, and Technology: Agrarian development in post-neoliberal Bolivia. Wageningen School of Social Sciences: Wageningen, the Netherlands (ISBN 978-74-6257-066). [PDF]

Refereed Journal Articles


Nava-López, M., Selfa, T., Córdoba, D., Pischke, E. C., Torrez, D., Ávila-Foucat S., Halvorsen K., and Maganda C. Decentralizing Payments for Hydrological Services Programs in Veracruz, Mexico: Challenges and Implications for Long-term Sustainability, Society and Natural Resources. [PDF]

Córdoba, D. Selfa, T., Abrams, J. and Sombra, D. Family Farming, Agribusiness and the State: Building consent around oil palm expansion in post-neoliberal Brazil. Journal of Rural Studies 57, 147-156 [PDF]

Córdoba, D., Chiappe, M. Abrams, J., and Selfa, T. Fueling social inclusion? Neo-extractivism, state-society relations and biofuel policies in Latin America’s Southern Cone. Development and Change, 41 (9) [PDF]


Córdoba, D. Politicization, participation and innovation: Socializing agricultural research in Bolivia. Apuntes 81, 131-160. Special Issue in Science and Technology in Latin America. [PDF]

Córdoba, D., Jansen, K., and González, C. Empowerment through articulations between post-neoliberal politics and neoliberalism: value chain alliances in Bolivia. Canadian Journal of Development Studies, 38 (1). [PDF]  


Tejada, G., Dalla-Nora, E., Córdoba, D., Lafortezza, R., Ovando, A., Assis, T., and Aguiar, A. Deforestation scenarios for the Bolivian lowlands. Environmental Research, 144, 49-63.

Córdoba, D. and Jansen, K. Realigning the political and the technical: NGOs and the politicization of agrarian development in Bolivia. European Journal of Development Research, 28 (3) 447–464 [PDF]


Córdoba, D. and Jansen, K. The Malleability of participation: The politics of agricultural research under neoliberalism in Bolivia. Development and Change, 45 (6), 1284-1309. [PDF]

Córdoba, D. and Jansen, K. Same disease—different research strategies: Bananas and Black Sigatoka in Brazil and Colombia. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 35 (3), 345-361. [PDF]

Mundet, C., Córdoba, D., Alvarez, S., and Cittadini, E.D. Participatory analysis of the sweet cherry sector in Argentinian South Patagonia. Acta Horticulturae, Vol. 1020: 529-535. [PDF]

Mundet, C., Baltuska, N., Córdoba, D., Sanz, C., and Cittadini, E.D. Deriving socio-economic indicators for sustainability assessment of sweet cherry farming systems in South. Acta Horticulturae, Vol. 1020: 523-528. [PDF]


Córdoba, D. and Jansen, K. The Return of the State: Neocollectivism, Agrarian Politics and Images of Technological Progress in the MAS Era in Bolivia. Journal of Agrarian Change, 14: 480–500. [PDF]


Alvarez S., Douthwaite B., Mackay R., Córdoba, D., and Tehelen, K. Participatory impact pathways analysis: a practical method for project planning and evaluation. Development in Practice, 20(8): 946-958. [PDF]