Ismaël Tall


With a Bachelor in social sciences and a Master in public management and policy, both of which obtained from the University of Lausanne, Ismaël Tall is particularly interested in governance and policy analysis regarding environmental issues. Since July 2015, he has been a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of Neuchâtel, and he is currently being hosted at the Centre for Sustainability at the University of Otago in New Zealand where he is conducting his fieldwork.

About his research

Ismaël’s thesis aims to answer the following research question: how are the issues of water management formulated by the stakeholders and then implemented by dairy farmers in Southland, New Zealand?

New Zealand is currently the largest dairy exporter in the world and also exhibits a neoliberal orientation, especially in the agricultural sector. Today, the powerful dairy industry, which accounts for much of the country’s economy, is accused of being the cause of many environmental problems, particularly freshwater pollution, which has resulted in multiple responses from various public and private actors. From the perspective of environmental and public policy anthropology, my thesis aims to understand the governance dynamics, from the framing of the water quality problem to the implementation of policy responses to this problem.

This research combines an analysis of the construction of public policies with an ethnography of their appropriation and implementation by farmers. The neoliberal context of New Zealand, characterized in particular by the absence of direct subsidies to farmers, offers a framework for the analysis of various agri-environmental forms of governance and delivery of public goods and services. The choice of the Southland region is justified by its dynamic context, namely its recent conversion to intensive dairy farming and the establishment of a new large-scale regional plan on water management that will potentially affect farmers.