A TNI Fellow since 2012, David holds a PhD from the London School of Economics. He works as an environmental sociologist and political economist and has been a lifelong critic of the nuclear energy industry. Recent victories in which he participated were the South African court case which made illegal President Zuma¹s nuclear ambitions, and the briefing of the Vietnamese congressional committee on science, which led to Vietnam abandoning its reactor orders with Russia and Japan. He recently worked with a coalition of public health practitioners to bring about a sugar tax in South Africa. David chairs the board of Biowatch South Africa, which he co-founded in 1997 and which is concerned with food sovereignty, agro-ecology and agrarian justice. Biowatch challenged the South African government and the Monsanto corporation in a legal process which took nine years, resulting in a landmark victory in the Constitutional Court.
He is active in a number of energy related struggles, including Earthlife Africa, the Pushing Back Coal and Pushing for Renewable Energy coalition, and the Energy Governance Initiative-South Africa David is also a member of the Global Working Group Beyond Development working towards systemic emancipatory transformations. He is an honorary research associate of the Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP) at Wits University, and of the Chair in Bio-Economy at the University of Cape Town. He has taught at UCT and Wits Universities, and engaged in training programmes in a number of Southern African countries. He has consulted widely for NGOS, think tanks and universities. His publications include books, monographs, book chapters and journal articles, some of which have appeared in French, Portuguese, Spanish and German.
Recent and forthcoming publications (a fuller list on eeu.academia.edu):
Fig, D. and L. Chisholm (2019) The Cold War in South African history textbooks in Barbara Christophe, Peter Gautschi and Robert Thorp (eds), The Cold War in the Classroom: International Perspectives on Textbooks and Memory Practices. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Fig, D. (2018) Capital, climate and the politics of nuclear procurement In Satgar V and J Cock (eds) Climate Crisis and Just Transition: Democratic Eco-socialist Alternatives for South Africa and the World. (Democratic Marxism series 3). Johannesburg: Wits University Press.
Fig, D. (2017) Disposal and Contamination: Nuclear waste in South Africa In Brunnengräber, A., M.R. di Nucci, A. M. Isidoro Losada, L. Mez and M. Schreurs (eds), Nuclear Waste Governance: An International Comparison. Vol II. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
Areas of expertise:
Southern Africa and Latin America, specifically looking at (nuclear) energy, biodiversity, food and agriculture, corporate behaviour, environmental policy, energy governance and South-South relations.
David regularly writes opinion pieces for the South African press, and his expertise particularly on nuclear energy questions and agrarian justice is often sought by the media.