Dr Layla Zaglul Ruiz

Dr Layla Zaglul Ruiz

Canning House Research Fellow

Latin America and Caribbean Centre (LACC)

English, Spanish
Key Expertise
Economic Anthropology, Global Capitalism, Inequality, Latin America

About me

Layla holds a BA in Social Anthropology from the University of Costa Rica and an MA in Anthropology of Development from SOAS, University of London. In 2014 she began a PhD in International Development at the University of Sussex. Her doctoral work analysed Fair Trade’s capacity to challenge exploitation in the banana trade in Costa Rica.

In 2020 she was awarded an ESCR SeNSS Post-doctoral Fellowship which she undertook at the University of Kent in the School of Anthropology and Conservation. During the year-long fellowship, she worked on the project Is Fair Trade bananas? : Exploitation and Fair Trade in Costa Rica’s Banana Industry. The study is based on a detailed ethnography of the lives of those who work on the banana plantations in Costa Rica (both Fair Trade certified and conventional farms). After the ESRC SeNSS fellowship, Dr Zaglul Ruiz worked as a Research Fellow at Sussex in two new research projects that she co-design with colleagues at the School of Global Studies.

As a Canning House Researcher Fellow at LSE, she is developing new research titled ‘Adding value to coffee and Cacao in Latin America’. The project will provide an anthropological study of the recent trends in Latin American export crops towards small-scale, high quality production, using the examples of coffee micro-lots in Costa Rica and fine cacao production in Peru. Such practices are disrupting traditional ties of dependency, presenting new opportunities for direct trade that circumvents multinational corporations while adding new forms of value to crops not previously recognised for their artisanal worth. At the end of the project the Dr Zaglul Ruiz will deliver a research-based report to define policy initiatives. Using detailed ethnographic studies carried out among farming communities in these countries. The report will draw out wider consequences for Latin America’s position within global commodity chains.


Unpacking Fair Trade: Labour and Livelihoods in Costa Rica’s Banana Industry (under contract with Routledge)

Zaglul Ruiz, Layla (2022) ‘Fair Trade in an unfair market: economic competitiveness and workers’ rights in Costa Rica’s banana industry’ Ethnography. DOI: 10.1177/14661381221098608

Zaglul Ruiz Layla and Peter Luetchford, (2021) ‘Unpacking Fair Trade Bananas and Coffee: Private Financial Investment and the State in Costa Rica’. Development in Practice. Special Issue for: The Private Sector in the Development Landscape. DOI:10.1080/09614524.2021.1959521

Zaglul Ruiz, Layla (2019) ‘Is fairtrade bananas?’: exploitation and fairtrade in Costa Rica’s banana industry. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

Zaglul Ruiz, Layla (2018). When to intervene? Ethnographic research with Costa Rican banana workers experiencing various forms of violence. SAGE Research Methods Cases, 11 pp. DOI:10.4135/9781526439529


Zaglul, L. (2017/11/15). “Navigating unsafe workplaces in Costa Rica’s banana industry.” Open Democracy. https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/layla-zaglul/navigating-unsafe-workplaces-in-costa-rica-s-banana-industry

Zaglul, L. (2018/ 04/23). “Why use bullets when you have crayons? Costa Rican politics looks divided, but its people are hopeful.” The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/costa-rican-politics-looks-divided-but-its-people-are-hopeful-94941

Zaglul, L. (2018/09/25). “Costa Rica’s Public Worker Strike Could Decide Its Fiscal Future.” World Politics Review. https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/trend-lines/26083/costa-rica-s-public-worker-strike-could-decide-its-fiscal-future

Expertise Details

Economic Anthropology; Global Capitalism; Inequality; Latin America