Kei Otsuki appointed professor of International Development Studies

From 1 November 2023, Kei Otsuki will be appointed professor of International Development Studies at the department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning at the faculty of Geosciences.

International Development Studies is the field where we ask: how do we promote sustainable and equitable development across the globe?

Kei Otsuki

Research expertise

What is ‘sustainable development’? What does it mean to develop a place, people, or environments sustainably? Who benefits from this development, who loses? Why? Otsuki’s research expertise is International Development Studies, and she is interested in researching what ‘development’ under the sustainability agenda does to different places, people and environments globally.


“This is because ‘sustainable development’ is often planned by experts and decision makers far away from where people and places to be developed are. As a part of the discipline of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, I investigate the social and material impacts of the expert-driven blueprint development on everyday lives of people in various geographies. I am also very keen to understand how people take creative action to shape their own sustainable development.”


Otsuki collaborates with various groups of people – including experts, activists, citizens mainly from Africa, Latin America and Asia – in order to listen to different voices and imagining new pathways to achieve social equity and justice for sustainable development. “In practice, I embrace an actor-oriented, territorial, and translocal perspective in order to understand the local-global connections and contested relationships between various social actors at different scales.”

Current research

Otsuki has conducted research on urbanisation in the Brazilian Amazon, climate change adaptation in Ghana, and various forms of forced displacement and resettlement in Mozambique. Currently she works on inclusive urban and infrastructure development in various cities of Latin America and Africa; and emerging extractive cities in the mineral and natural gas extractive frontiers throughout the Global South in the process of energy transitions. “My latest international research project is on following urbanisation impacts of the new capital city of Indonesia on the forest, water and coastal areas of Borneo.”

Laudation Wilco Hazeleger

Wilco Hazeleger, dean of the Faculty of Geosciences: Kei’s work is of great relevance to our faculty and society in general. The society faces sustainability challenges worldwide. The attention for international development and related fair and just transitions is of increasing relevance. Kei will continue to contribute to these issues with her teaching, her research and connect to external stakeholders to reach impact.