Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Dr Emma-Louise Anderson

Lecturer in International Development with Research Methods

I am interested in international development, global health, gender, and African politics. My specialist areas are the gender politics of HIV in Africa (partially ESRC-funded 2005-2009) and African agency in global health.

I am an expert on Malawi based on an in-depth understanding of the cultural, historical, socio-economic, political and gender context from 10 years of research. The findings in my monograph were disseminated to key stakeholders in Malawi and I contributed to developing the Government of Malawi National Gender and HIV Implementation Plan (2015-2020) through participating in the National Symposium and drafting the final policy. My research included consultations, observations, key-informant interviews and focus group discussions. I have developed a network of research partners (including in Government, donors and NGOs) and experience working with hard-to reach populations in the Chichewa and Chitumbuka languages. I was included on the University of Leeds 2016 ‘Roll of Honour’ for women of outstanding achievement and contribution to their field.

Before joining Leeds in 2012, I taught International Relations, Politics and Global Health at the Universities of Keele, Southampton and Winchester.  I was educated at the University of Southampton, where I obtained my PhD in 2009. 

Research Interests

My monograph ‘Gender, Risk and HIV’ (Palgrave MacMillan, 2015) was runner-up for the International Studies Association (ISA) Global Health Section Book Prize (2016).  It examines the gender context of risk and critiques policy responses, contributing to the feminist task of de-invisibilising gender as structural violence. Looking at how these gendered structures are responded to at the local level in Malawi, it contributes to the Global Health scholarship, which typically obscures the micro level where health is experienced. Policy makers have long identified the gender dynamics of HIV, but still need to engage with them effectively. The challenge for the post-2015 development agenda is to augment gender social justice and ensure freedom from structural violence. Addressing structural violence is the harder task, but a fundamental one if the effectiveness of the response is not to be undermined by unequal gender relations. This work builds upon my previous article in IFJP that examines how the gendered construction of women’s bodies heightens their HIV risk.

My latest research focuses on African agency in Global Health and the ways that individuals and communities respond to Africa’s high dependency on donor funds for health. My second book ‘Dependent Agency in the Global Health Regime’ (Palgrave MacMillan, 2017) examines how grassroots communities and individuals in Malawi and Zambia exert agency within the larger structures of global health dependency. It conceptualizes ‘dependent agency’ (the condition in which local actors can simultaneously act and be dependent) and investigates conditions under which it occurs and the forms it takes. My International Affairs article (2017) advances debates on North-South relations by arguing how the malleability of ‘empowerment’ has strategic advantages for people living with HIV. My Third World Quarterly article (2016) criticises the focus on building resilient health systems in the Ebola response, highlighting the need for political solutions.


At Masters level I lead on:

  • The Global Politics of Health: Power and Inequity

Student feedback: ‘This module is exceptionally well designed. Emma is a great tutor and the workshops struck a good balance between group discussion and her lecturing. She was always helpful in her office hour and the material in the course is highly stimulating. This is the best module I have studied here at Leeds.’

‘This module gives me the opportunity to think critically and analyse critically. The lecturer is very enthusiastic about the topic and she always inspires me!’

At undergraduate level I lead on:

  • Global Development Challenges

Student feedback: ‘I must confess that it is my favourite module! The way it is structured, the assessment mode and the wide range of contemporary subjects that we engage in are the perfect combination.’

  • Approaches to Analysis

Student feedback: 'it was interesting to see lecturers’ different areas of research and how they used the research methods'. 

Moderator feedback: ‘The reformulated PIED2721 is really great preparation for the final year dissertation’.

I also contribute to Masters and Undergraduate teaching on:

  • Global Inequalities
  • Violence and Reconciliation in Africa
  • State and Politics in Africa

PhD Supervision

I welcome proposals from candidates in the areas of:

  • Gender politics and development
  • Global health and food security
  • African development and security
  • Malawian politics and society

Dr Anderson is currently supervising the following PhD projects:

  • Political Economy of Development Programmes in Malawi (Commonwealth Scholarship) - Michael Chasukwa
  • Health Security Crisis in South-East Asia: Asean's roles and challenges - Nadirah Mohd Azmi
  • Evidence-based policy for climate smart agriculture in Malawi - Pierre Moorsom (LARS Scholarship) co-supervised with Stephen Whitfield (SEE) and Tim Benton (Biology)

Dr Anderson has successfully supervised these past PhD projects:

  • The Invisibilisation of Female Farmers from Agricultural Policies and Interventions: The Case of the Malawi farm Inputs Subsidy Programme (FISP) - Dr Betty Chinyamunyamu
  •  Adult Skills Development: Demanding a ‘radical’ new approach? - Dr Alice Jowett

Key Publications


  • Anderson, E-L. (2015) Gender, HIV and Risk: Navigating structural violence, Palgrave MacMillan: Basingstoke [International Studies Association (ISA) 2016 Global Health Section Book Prize runner-up]

Co-authored Book

Peer-reviewed journal articles

Open letters

Conference and invited papers (selected)

  • Anderson (September 2015) ‘Global health diplomacy and African agency’, European International Studies Association (EISA), Sicily
  • Anderson, E-L. (June 2015) ‘The political foundations of the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone’, British International Studies Association Conference (BISA), London 
  • Anderson, E-L. (February 2015) ‘Health systems inverting: African politics and local survival’, International Studies Association Conference (ISA), New Orleans 
  • Anderson, E-L. (December 2014) ‘Health Systems Subverting and the Ebola Crisis’, The Ebola Crisis: An International Relations Response? Centre for Global Health Policy, University of Sussex
  • Anderson, E-L. (September 2014) ‘The embodied politics of food: Navigating dependency in Malawi’, African Studies Association (ASA) UK Conference, University of Sussex
  • Anderson, E-L. (September 2014) ‘Gender, Violence & HIV: Navigating gender as structural violence in Malawi’, BISA Global Health Working Group Workshop: ‘Global health, international relations and gender: How to govern global challenges?’, Münster, Germany

Media Contact Areas

  • Development, gender, global health and HIV
  • Malawian development and politics

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