Katherine Snyder

About Katherine Snyder

My long-term work in East Africa has focused on how the ideology and practice of development shapes local life in rural communities.It has situated ethnographic attention to local dynamics within a broader political-economic context at national and global levels. My applied work in international research centers has concentrated on sustainable development and how rural land users' livelihoods and decisions are shaped by a broad set of political, economic and environmental factors. Topics central to my research have included local governance of natural resources, democratization and civil society, gender and agriculture, and the politics of agricultural development. My publications focus on institutional analysis, livelihood change, gender, the politics of participation and the impacts of decentralization programs. 

Areas of Study

Sub-Saharan Africa: Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi and Ghana.


Long-term Livelihood Change in Tanzania. (https://longtermlivelihoodchangeintanzania.wordpress.com/summary/

This project revisits life in my Ph.D. fieldsite to see how political and economic changes in Tanzania have had an impact on the livelihoods of rural community members. It seeks to understand how changes have affected people's decisions and choices about their lives and economic strategies. 

Improving livelihoods in landscapes in the Volta Basin through strengthening farmer-led approaches to ecosystem-based management (2014-2016) (International Center for Tropical Agriculture, University for Development Studies - Tamale, Ghana, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), ACDEP (The Association of Church-based Development NGOs).

The livelihoods and agro-ecosystems on which farmers, agro-pastoralists and pastoralists in the Volta Basin depend are under considerable pressure. This multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary project uses landscape-level analysis to assess the underlying diverse drivers of ecosystem change to identify specific entry points for project interventions. This analysis, and all project activities, are done through engagement with local communities and other relevant stakeholders in government and civil society to understand local perceptions of landscape changes and livelihood priorities and to address key barriers to improved landscape management. By taking a holistic approach and working closely together with a range of stakeholders, the project aims to design strategies that are widely applicable and have a high likelihood of triggering long-term positive impacts. Our approach to landscape productivity is holistic and thus includes livestock production, non-timber forest products, soil and water management, crop production and marketing. 


Research Interests

Most of my research has been in countries in East and Southern Africa. I have led projects on political change in Tanzania, land-use change and institutional analysis in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Malawi and governance of small-scale fisheries in Ghana and Malawi. I am interested in how global development narratives shape the practice of development on the ground and have an impact on local livelihoods, gender relations and land-use strategies. 

Selected Publications


The Iraqw of Tanzania: Negotiating Rural Development. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. 2005.

Recent Journal Articles

2019. Snyder, Katherine A.,  Emmanuel Sulle, Deodatus A. Massay, Anselmi Petro, Paschal Qamara, Dan Brockington. "Modern" farming and the transformation of livelihoods in rural Tanzania. Agricultural and Human Values

2019. Snyder, Katherine A., Juliet Braslow and Beth Cullen. “Farmers as experts: Interpreting the messages of participatory video across African contexts”.  AREA.

2018. Emerton, Lucy and Katherine A. Snyder. “Rethinking approaches to sustainable land management: social and economic drivers of farmer decision-making in Africa”. Land Use Policy.

2018. Snyder, Katherine A., Andrea F. Corral, Gwendolyn. J. Woods, Andrea Prichard, Melissa Montgomery, Vasiliki Karanikola. “Challenges and lessons learned from a sanitation project in rural Bolivia”.  Development in Practice. DOI: 10.1080/09614524.2018.1481198

2016. Snyder, Katherine A., Sriyanie Miththapala, Rolf Sommer and Juliet Braslow. “The yield gap: closing the gap by widening the approach”. Experimental Agriculture.

2015. Cordingley, Justine E., Katherine A. Snyder, Judith Rosendahl, Fred Kizito and Deborah Bossio. “Thinking outside the plot: addressing low adoption of sustainable land management in sub-Saharan Africa”. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 15: 35–40.

2015. Yami, Mastewal and Katherine A. Snyder. “After all, land belongs to the state: examining the benefits of land registration for smallholders in Ethiopia”. Land Degradation & Development, DOI: 10.1002/ldr.2371.

2014.  Snyder, Katherine A and Beth Cullen. “Implications of sustainable agricultural intensification for family farming in Africa: Anthropological perspectives”. Anthropological Notebooks.

2014.  Snyder, Katherine A., Eva Ludi, Beth Cullen, Josephine Tucker, Alemayehu Belay and Alan Duncan. “Participation and performance: planning and implementation of soil and water management in Ethiopia”.  Public Administration and Development, 34(2): 83-95.

2014. Cullen, Beth, Josephine Tucker, Katherine Snyder, Zelalem Lema and Alan Duncan. “An analysis of power dynamics within innovation platforms for natural resource management”. Innovation and Development, 4(2): 259-275.

2011. Snyder, Katherine A. and Emmanuel Sulle. “Tourism in Maasai communities: a chance to improve livelihoods?” Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 19(8): 935-952.



Katherine Snyder's picture

Contact Information

Katherine Snyder
Professor, SGD and Director, Master's Program in Development Practice
Telephone: 520-621-1585
Fax: 520-621-2889
Office: ENR2 S423


Ph.D. Anthropology, Yale University.

M.Phil. Anthropology, Yale University.

B.A. Sociology, Smith College


Courses Taught

Landscapes and Livelihoods in Africa

Culture and Development

Human Rights

Gender and Development

Research Methods

Introduction to Natural Resources Management