Firstly, if you want a jargon-free description of my current research, I'd recommend looking at my blog as this description is unapologetically academic.
Broadly, my research is interested in questions of extraction and development. I locate my approach in the marchlands between development studies and environmental and political geography. I am interested in bringing together theoretical and policy questions of environmental change, international development and socio-environmental justice in the global South through historically-rich and multi-scalar analyses of the political ecologies of environmental governance and natural resource extraction. My research examines historical and contemporary natural resource extraction and international development along three axes: (i) transnational environmental governance and international development, (ii) The political ecology of natural resource extraction in Africa and Latin America and (iii) the historical and contemporary geographies of colonialism in Africa.
The current focus of my research is the processes, policies and institutions through which environmental change in the global South is constituted and its consequences for international development. In particular, how the practices of mining companies in Zambia, Ghana and Peru are shaped through international, national and local regulatory pressures producing specific socio-environmental outcomes. Here, I am seeking to understand the political and economic origins of environmental and social change with a focus on the political struggles and institutions surrounding changing forms of access to and control over resources and the politics of knowledge production.
Current PhD students:
Ishmael Ayanoor Towards a Sustainable Resource Governance Regime in Ghana: An Investigation into the Political Dynamism in Institutional Development and Performance
Completed PhD students:
Robert Watt The Moral Political Economy of the Carbon Offset Market
Melanie Stroebel Global Environmental Governance: Tourism Industry Responses to Climate Change
Isaac Tuchwa Hydro-social Permutations of Water Commodification in Blantyre City
I am interested in supervising work in a range of fields looking at socio-environmental relations. My main interests and expertise lie in the fields of mining and extractive industry, corporate social responsibility, international and private environmental governance, political ecology and the colonial experience in Zambia.
Currently, my main research project is entitled 'Mining and Corporate Social Responsibility: Linking Global Drivers and Local Impacts' funded by a 3-year fellowship from the British Academy (details of my award here
) with research costs being supplemented by the ESID Research Centre and the Hallsworth Fund. This research project examines the global governance and development impacts of the extractive sector in Africa; specifically, relationships between emerging international governance regimes, mining companies and changing multi-faceted community development corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes in Zambia. Over the three years of the fellowship, this research will develop a critical multi-scalar analysis that links international governance and an in-depth understanding of changing mining company practice with the development impacts of extractive industry in Zambia. Linking these three elements together in a single study, this research will trace the effects of global pressures and dynamics in local communities in Africa. This will generate a unique case study with insights into wider processes of global governance, the role of the private sector in development, the effects of new complex modes of governance in developing countries and the role of extraction in broader development.
I am also engaged in a large project on 'Tracking the politics of natural resources and inclusive development over time' with Professor Tony Bebbington and Professor Paul Mosley funded by theEffective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre for which I am heading up the work programme looking at CSR and mining. This project is examining the role of natural resource extraction and political settlements in Bolivia, Ghana, Peru and Zambia and the implications of this for inclusive development.
In my more historical work, I am interested in the ways in which states and private actors worked together to expand and entrench new forms of power relations, behaviours and environmental practice in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries and its enduring consequences, with a focus on Nigeria and Zambia. In my PhD (at the University of Manchester) I examined colonialism, mining and the historical roots of inequality in Zambia, one of the world's poorest nations. Here, I drew on literatures in geography, development studies, history, politics, and anthropology, and on primary research (interviews, archives and direct observation) to develop a political ecological account of colonial power and environmental change in the establishment of a global centre for copper production in colonial Zambia. In my thesis I demonstrated how the rise of the Copperbelt mining industry rested on practices which collectively produced unequal regimes of access to, and control over, nature and resources with a lasting legacy of widespread poverty, environmental degradation and stark inequality.
Commonwealth Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Toronto, September 2010 - September 2011
PhD Human Geography. School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester. Thesis entitled ‘Unearthing Rule - mining, power and the political ecology of extraction in colonial Zambia’. 2010
MA International Development: Poverty, Conflict and Reconstruction. Institute of Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester. 2006
BA (Hons) Geography with Development Studies. University of Sussex. 2000