Ben Cousins


Prof Ben Cousins hold a DPhil in applied social science from the University of Zimbabwe (1997). He was in exile for 19 years, worked in agricultural training and extension in Swaziland (1976-1983) and Zimbabwe (1983-1986), and carried out research on communal grazing, livestock production and rural class formation in Zimbabwe (1986-1991). He founded and directed the Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) in the university’s School of Government from its inception in 1995 until September 2009, when he was awarded a DST-NRF South African Research Chair in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies. PLAAS, now the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, currently employs 23 staff members, enjoys an international reputation for high quality research.

Prof Cousins’ main research interests are the politics of land and agrarian reform, agrarian change and agro-food regimes, land tenure reform, livestock production and common property resources. In 2013 he received an inaugural Elinor Ostrom Award, in the senior scholars category, for his contribution to scholarship on the commons. In 2015 he was voted ‘Agriculturalist of the Year’ by the Agricultural Writer’s Association of South Africa. He is currently rated by South Africa’s National Research Foundation as a researcher who enjoys ‘considerable international recognition for the high quality and impact of his recent research outputs’. In May 2016 his H-index on Google Scholar was 29, for a total of 2622 citations.