Alec Thornton

Honorary Senior Lecturer

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Dr Alec Thornton is a freelance international development expert. He has a MA in Rural Development and PhD in Development Studies from the University of Sussex, UK. Since 2021, Alec is an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Geography in the School of Science at UNSW Canberra.

Alec is a Research to Practice Associate, with the Institute for Global Development (IGD) at UNSW Sydney. He is also a Senior Research Associate held jointly between the School of Anthropology and Development Studies, as well as the School of Tourism at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Alec specialises in Participatory and Sustainable Livelihoods approaches to monitoring and evaluations of food security, rural and urban agriculture and has widely published these topics in empirical case studies located in Uganda, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zambia, as well as in Australia, Germany and the USA. He is Honorary Senior Lecturer in Geography at UNSW Canberra and Research and Practice Associate at the Institute for Global Development (IGD) at UNSW Sydney. He is also Senior Research Associate at the University of Johannesburg, in the School of Humanities and the School of Tourism & Hospitality. 

Alec is located in Berlin, Germany.

Specialties: participatory research, sustainable livelihoods, food security, food systems governance, urban and rural agriculture.

Editorial boards: Sustainability (2019-present); Australasian Review of African Studies (2015-2017); Urban Forum (2010-2016); Journal of Applied Geography (2010-2015).

Books
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Thornton A, 2018, Space and Food in the City Cultivating Social Justice and Urban Governance through Urban Agriculture, Springer, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-89324-2
2018
Thornton A, 2012, Urban Agriculture in South Africa: A Study of the Eastern Cape Province, First, Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, New York
2012
Book Chapters
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Gbanie SP; Thornton A, 2021, 'Agro-Industrial Mega-Land Deals in Sierra Leone: Beyond the Rhetoric of Beneficiation, Employment and Economic Development', in International Political Economy Series, pp. 173 - 187, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60789-0_7
2021
Dela Cruz I; Thornton A; Haase D, 2020, 'Smart food cities on the menu? integrating urban food systems into smart city policy making', in International Political Economy Series, pp. 71 - 84, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17187-2_5
2020
Thornton A, 2019, 'Introduction', in Urban Food Democracy and Governance in North and South, pp. 3 - 8, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17187-2_1
2019
Thornton A; Lyons K; Sharpe S, 2018, 'Carving out space for community gardens in Australia: Exploring the potential of community gardens as social movements for urban change in Sydney and Canberra', in The Routledge Handbook of Community Development Research, pp. 223 - 235, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315612829
2018
Thornton A, 2018, 'Food security in African cities: linking urban food production with good urban governance', in Binns T; Lynch K; Nel E (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of African Development, Routledge, pp. 454 - 464, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315712482-34
2018
Cochrane L; Thornton A, 2017, 'Charity rankers: Who is defining effectiveness?', in Lentfer J; Cothran T (ed.), Smart Risks How Small Grants Are Helping to Solve Some of the World's Biggest Problems, Practical Action, Rugby, UK, pp. 108 - 113, http://dx.doi.org/10.3362/9781780449302
2017
Ravuvu A; Thornton A, 2016, 'Chapter 6 Beyond aid distribution: aid effectiveness, neoliberal and neostructural reforms in pacific island countries', in Assessing the Impact of Foreign Aid, pp. 79 - 93, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-803660-0.00006-4
2016
Adusei-Asante K; Alttahir Y; Bell V; Bertram S; Chilver A; Cohen MM; Freer G; Hancock P; Jakupec V; Kelly M; Lemire S; Loveridge D; Loxley W; Makuwira JJ; Milligan S; Pucilowski M; Ravuvu A; Thornton A, 2016, 'Author Biographies', in Assessing the Impact of Foreign Aid, Elsevier, pp. xv - xxi, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-803660-0.00022-2
2016
Thornton A; Ravuvu A, 2015, 'Beyond aid distribution: Aid effectiveness, neoliberal and neostructural reforms in Pacific Island Countries.', in Jakupec V; Kelly M (ed.), Assessing the Impact of Foreign Aid, Academic Press, pp. 79 - 94, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-803660-0.00006-4
2015
Sakai M; Jurriens E; Thornton A; Zhang J, 2014, 'Coping with disaster: Agency and resilience in the Asia-Pacific context', in Sakai M; Thornton A; Jurriens E; Zhang J (ed.), Agency in Asia Pacific Disaster Relief, Routledge, Oxton and New York, pp. 3 - 16, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315884356
2014
Chand S, 2014, 'Responding to natural versus human-made disasters: lessons from Fiji', in Sakai M; Jurriens E; Zhang J; Thornton A (ed.), Disaster Relief in the Asia Pacific, Routledge, London, pp. 189 - 205, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315884356
2014
Sakai M; Fauzia A, 2014, 'Key factors for capacity-building of disaster relief operations: Indonesian examples', in Zhang J; Thornton A; Sakai M; Jurriens E (ed.), Agency in Asia Pacific Disaster Relief, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, pp. 35 - 51, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315884356
2014
Sakai M, 2014, 'Fostering civil society oranizations for disaster relief in Japan: challenges and prospects for sustainable future operations', in Sakai M; Jurriens E; Zhang J; Thornton A (ed.), Agency in Asia Pacific Disaster Relief, Routledge, Oxton and New York, pp. 52 - 66, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315884356
2014
Zhang J; Jurriens E; Sakai M, 2014, 'Lessons from disaster relief in the Asia Pacific', in Sakai M; Jurriens E; Zhang J; Thornton A (ed.), Agency in Asia Pacific Disaster Relief, Routledge, Oxton and New York, pp. 209 - 216, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315884356
2014
Thornton A; Nel E, 2014, 'Agrarianism, Capitalism or Protectionism? Exploring economic restructuring and local responses amidst global change in Samoa', in Sakai M; Jurriens E; Zhang J; Thornton A (ed.), Disaster Relief in the Asia Pacific: Agency and Resilience, Routledge, London, pp. 171 - 188, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315884356
2014
Thornton A, 2011, 'Food for Thought? Linking Up Urban Agriculture and Local Food Production for Food Security and Development in the South Pacific', in Rosin C; Stock P; Campbell H (ed.), Food Systems failure -The Global Food Crisis and the Future of Agriculture, Earthscan, Taylor & Francis, UK, pp. 203 - 218, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781849776820
2011
Nel E; Davidson J; Thornton AC, 2007, 'Pandemic and panacea: urban agriculture as a community-based response to HIV/AIDS?', in Jones G; Leimgruber W; Nel E (ed.), Issues in Geographical Marginality: Papers presented during the Meetings of the Commission on Evolving Issues of Geographical Marginality in the Early 21st Century World, edn. Original, Rhodes University, Grahamstown
2007
Conference Abstracts
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Joseph V; Pearson S; Thornton A, 2011, 'Livelihood Capitals and Occupational Systems Transitions - A case study of coastal occupational groups in Central Java province of Indonesia', in Livelihood Capitals and Occupational Systems Transitions - A case study of coastal occupational groups in Central Java province of Indonesia, Resilience 2011, Tempe, Arizona, USA, presented at Resilience 2011, Tempe, Arizona, USA, 12 March 2011 - 15 March 2011, http://csid.asu.edu/resilience-2011/program/files/Individual_Papers/pdf/Joseph_and_Pearson_etal.pdf
2011
Conference Papers
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Thornton AC, 2008, 'Mixing methods and methodologies in urban agriculture research: a case study of South Africa', in Southern Perspectives on Development: Dialogue or Division? Proceedings of the Fifth Biennial Conference of the Aotearoa / New Zealand International Development Studies Network (DevNet), University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
2008
Conference Presentations
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Thornton AC, 2009, 'Institutional capacity building for urban agriculture in Southern Africa', presented at 3rd European Conference on African Studies (ECAS), Leipzig, Germany, 04 June 2009 - 07 June 2009
2009
Thornton AC, 2008, 'Kinship & Church Obligations and the Emergence of Landlessness in Samoa', presented at 31st International Geographical Congress, Tunis, Tunisia, 12 August 2008 - 15 August 2008
2008
Thornton AC, 2008, 'The church and development in Samoa', presented at New Zealand Geographical Society 24th Conference 2008, University of Victoria, Wellington, 02 July 2008 - 05 July 2008
2008
Thornton AC, 2007, 'Poverty and Paradise: A Case Study of Squatters & Squatter Resettlement Policy in Fiji', presented at Canadian Association for the Study of International Development Conference, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada, 31 May 2007 - 02 June 2007
2007
Thornton AC, 2007, 'Urban Land Use Policy and Food Security in Post-Apartheid South Africa', presented at 2nd International Conference on Community-based Collaborative Research, The Institute for Community Research, Hartford, Connecticut, USA, 07 June 2007 - 09 June 2007
2007
Thornton AC, 2007, 'No Garden of Eden: the impact of resettlement on squatters’ ‘agri-hoods’ in Fiji', Vol. 19, pp. 884 - 894, presented at Biennial Oceania Development Network Conference 2007, National University of Samoa, Apia, Samoa, 29 October 2007 - 31 October 2007, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09614520903122311
2007
Thornton AC, 2006, 'Brown Fields, Green Thumbs: The Potential for Using Participatory GIS in UPA Research', presented at International Development Network Conference, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, 02 December 2006 - 05 December 2006
2006
Thornton AC; Nel E; Davidson J, 2004, 'Pandemic and Panacea: Urban Agriculture as a Community-based Response to HIV/AIDS', presented at International Geography Union Conference, Stirling, Scotland
2004
Thornton AC; Nel E, 2004, 'International Evidence of Local Economic Development Models', presented at National Local Economic Development Conference, Department of Provincial and Local Government, September 27-28, 2004, Johannesburg, South Africa
2004
Thornton AC, 2004, 'Understanding Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture in South Africa', presented at Institute for Social and Economic Research Roving Conference, Institute for Social and Economic Research, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
2004
Conference Proceedings (Editor of)
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Thornton AC; McGregor A, (ed.), 2006, 'Southern Perspectives on Development: Dialogue or Division? Proceedings of the Fifth Biennial Conference of the Aotearoa / New Zealand International Development Studies Network (DevNet)', University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, presented at 5th Biennial Conference of the Aotearoa New Zealand International Development Studies Network (DevNet), Dunedin, NZ, 30 November 2006 - 02 December 2006
2006
Edited Books
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Thornton A, (ed.), 2020, Urban Food Democracy and governance in north and south, Palgrave Macmillan, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17187-2
2020
Jurriens EC; Sakai M; Zhang J; Thornton A, (eds.), 2014, Disaster Relief in the Asia Pacific: Agency and Resilience, Routledge, London and New York, https://www.routledge.com/Disaster-Relief-in-the-Asia-Pacific-Agency-and-Resilience/Sakai-Jurriens-Zhang-Thornton/p/book/9780415711777
2014
Sakai M; Jurriens E; Zhang J; Thornton A, (eds.), 2014, Disaster Relief in the Asia Pacific: Agency and Resilience, Routledge, London, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315884356
2014
Journal articles
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Nop S; Thornton A, 2020, 'Community participation in contemporary urban planning in Cambodia: The examples of Khmuonh and Kouk Roka neighbourhoods in Phnom Penh', Cities, vol. 103, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2020.102770
2020
Thornton A, 2020, 'Introduction', International Political Economy Series, pp. 3 - 8, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17187-2_1
2020
Cochrane L; Lewis SC; Engdaw MM; Thornton A; Welbourne DJ, 2020, 'Using farmer-based metrics to analyze the amount, seasonality, variability and spatial patterns of rainfall amidst climate change in southern Ethiopia', Journal of Arid Environments, vol. 175, pp. 104084 - 104084, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaridenv.2019.104084
2020
Nop S; Thornton A, 2019, 'Urban resilience building in modern development: A case of phnom Penh city, Cambodia', Ecology and Society, vol. 24, http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-10860-240223
2019
Thornton A; Cochrane L, 2018, 'The geography of development studies: Leaving no one behind', Forum for Development Studies, vol. 45, pp. 167 - 175, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08039410.2017.1345786
2018
Gbanie SP; Griffin AL; Thornton A, 2018, 'Impacts on the urban environment: Land cover change trajectories and landscape fragmentation in post-war Western Area, Sierra Leone', Remote Sensing, vol. 10, http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/rs10010129
2018
Cochrane L; Thornton A, 2018, 'The Geography of Development Studies: Leaving No One Behind', Forum for Development Studies, vol. 45, pp. 167 - 175, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08039410.2017.1345786
2018
Thornton A, 2017, '“The Lucky country”? A critical exploration of community gardens and city–community relations in Australian cities', Local Environment, vol. 22, pp. 969 - 985, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13549839.2017.1317726
2017
Cochrane L; Thornton A, 2017, 'A socio-cultural analysis of smallholder borrowing and debt in southern Ethiopia', Journal of Rural Studies, vol. 49, pp. 69 - 77, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2016.11.004
2017
Thornton A, 2017, 'Pacific urbanisation: is landlessness a challenge to SDG11 in Samoa?', The Development Bulletin, pp. 1 - 101, https://crawford.anu.edu.au/rmap/devnet/dev-bulletin.php
2017
Cochrane L; Thornton A, 2016, 'Charity Rankings: Delivering Development or Dehumanising Aid?', Journal of International Development, vol. 28, pp. 57 - 73, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jid.3201
2016
Lyons T; Marlowe J; Thornton A, 2015, 'Reflections on Africa and African Studies: in Memory of Cherry Gertzel', AUSTRALASIAN REVIEW OF AFRICAN STUDIES, vol. 36, pp. 8 - 21, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000374687300002&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a29b250adbe88d1
2015
Gbanie SP; Thornton A; Griffin AL, 2015, '‘The Diamond of Western Area is Land’: Narratives of Land Use and Land Cover Change in Post-conflict Sierra Leone', The Australasian Review of African Studies, vol. 36, pp. 51 - 73, http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=640605682272647;res=IELIND
2015
Lyons T; Marlowe J; Mickler D; Thornton A, 2015, 'Denizens, Artivists, and Terrorists - Disarmament, Development and Diagnosis: Understanding Africa in Australasia and the Pacific.', AUSTRALASIAN REVIEW OF AFRICAN STUDIES, vol. 36, pp. 3 - 6, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000374687000001&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a29b250adbe88d1
2015
Thornton A; Rogerson CM, 2013, 'African cities and the millenium development goals: A case for applied geography', Applied Geography, vol. 36, pp. 1 - 2, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2012.09.004
2013
Thornton A; Tang MB, 2013, 'A level playing field? Improving market availability and access for small scale producers in Johannesburg, South Africa', Applied Geography, vol. 36, pp. 40 - 48, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2012.04.004
2013
Thornton A; Binns T; Kerslake M, 2013, 'Hard times in Apia? Urban landlessness and the church in Samoa', Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, vol. 34, pp. 357 - 372, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/sjtg.12040
2013
Thornton A; Pearson S; Paull D; Joseph V, 2013, 'Occupational transitions in three coastal villages in Central Java, Indonesia, in the context of sea level rise: a case study', Natural Hazards, vol. on-line June 2013, pp. 675 - 694, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11069-013-0735-6
2013
Thornton A; Momoh J; Tengbe P, 2012, 'Institutional Capacity Building for Urban Agriculture Research Using Participatory GIS in a Post-Conflict Context: A Case Study of Sierra Leone', Australasian Review of African Studies, vol. 33, pp. 165 - 176, http://search.informit.com.au/fullText;dn=274136515355648;res=IELNZC
2012
Thornton A; Sakai M; Hassall G, 2012, 'Givers and governance: the potential of faith-based development in the Asia Pacific', Development in Practice, vol. 22, pp. 779 - 791, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09614524.2012.685864
2012
Thornton A, 2010, 'Book Review: Sustainable Land Management in the Tropics: Explaining the Miracle.', Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, vol. 31, pp. 276 - 278, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9493.2010.00401.x
2010
Thornton A; Binns T; Kerslake M, 2010, 'Alienation and obligation: Religion and social change in Samoa', Asia Pacific Viewpoint, vol. 51, pp. 1 - 16, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8373.2010.01410.x
2010
Thornton AC; Nel E; Hampwaye G, 2010, 'Cultivating Kaunda's plan for self-sufficiency: Is urban agriculture finally beginning to receive support in Zambia?', Development Southern Africa, vol. 27, pp. 613 - 625, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0376835X.2010.508604
2010
Thornton AC, 2009, 'Pastures of plenty?: Land rights and community-based agriculture in Peddie, a former homeland town in South Africa', Applied Geography, vol. 29, pp. 12 - 20, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2008.06.001
2009
Thornton AC, 2009, 'Garden of Eden?: The impact of resettlement on squatters’ ‘agri-hoods’ in Fiji', Development in Practice, vol. 19, pp. 884 - 894, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09614520903122311
2009
Thornton AC, 2008, 'Beyond the Metropolis: Small Town Case Studies of Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture in South Africa', Urban Forum, vol. 19, pp. 243 - 262, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12132-008-9036-7
2008
Thornton AC; Nel E, 2007, 'The significance of urban and peri-urban agriculture in Peddie, in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa', Africanus: Journal of Development Studies, vol. 37, pp. 13 - 20
2007
Thornton AC, 2006, 'The potential for multi-functional urban land use in a small former homeland town in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa', Urban Agriculture Magazine, vol. 16, pp. 58 - 59
2006
Theses / Dissertations
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Gbanie SP, 2015, Understanding Land Use and Land Cover Change in Post-War Sierra Leone: A Socio-geospatial Approach, UNSW, UNSW Canberra
2015
Joseph V, 2012, Vulnerability to sea level rise of coastal communitities in central Java: Developing a systems approach and perspective, UNSW Canberra, http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/52238
2012
Working Papers
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Burger P; Geldenhuys JP; Cloete J; Marais L; Thornton AC, 2009, Assessing the Role of Urban Agriculture in Addressing Poverty in South Africa, South Africa, Global Development Network (GDN) Working Paper Series, 28, http://dx.doi.orghttp://www.gdnet.org/cms.php?id=research_paper_abstract&research_paper_id=15819
2009
Nel E; Hampwaye G; Thornton AC; Rogerson CM; Marais L, 2009, Institutional Responses to Decentralization, Urban Poverty, Food Shortages and Urban Agriculture, South Africa, Global Development Network (GDN) Working Paper Series, 36, http://dx.doi.orghttp://www.gdnet.org/cms.php?id=research_paper_abstract&research_paper_id=15875
2009

Institute for Global Development (UNSW Sydney) Academic Co-Lead for Africa

Member: African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific (Vice President 2011-2017)

Member: Agri-Food Research Network

Member: Urban Agriculture Europe / European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)

Editorial board: Applied Geography (past)

Editorial board: Urban Forum (past)

Editorial board: Australasian Review of African Studies (past)

Editorial board: Sustainability (current)

Australia Africa Universities Network (AAUN) 2019 Partnership and Research Development Fund Award
Project: Integrating Urban Green Infrastructure and Food Security for Economic Development in African Cities

University of Western Australia FABLE Research Collaboration Awards (2019-2020)
Project: Creating Smarter Cities in East Africa

Australian Government DFAT New Colombo Mobility Grant (2016-2019)
Project: Samoa Field School for Geography Research Methods

 

Food security; rural agriculture; urban agriculture; small scale farming; poverty; community-based development; sustainable development; Sub-Saharan Africa; South Pacific

Organisational units
lensSchool of Science
Sub Theme
lensCultural Geography