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 Policy (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.

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) 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 co-authored article with Dr Alexander Beresford in TWQ examines gatekeeper politics in Sierra Leone and how national level actors severally compromised the health system, which left certain sections of the population acutely at risk from Ebola. My forthcoming co-authored book with Professor Amy Patterson (Sewanee: University of the South, USA) examines how grassroots communities and individuals in Malawi and Zambia exert agency within the larger structures of global health dependency. I am currently working on a piece on Global Health Diplomacy in Malawi that argues that power inequalities engender theatres of performances where actors employ their dependency as means of leverage. Shadow health systems of informal relations of patronage exist alongside the formal structures of the health system and resources are subverted for private gain.


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.’

I also contribute to Masters and Undergraduate teaching on:

  • Global Inequalities
  • Violence and Reconciliation in Africa
  • State and Politics in Africa
  • Approaches to Analysis

    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

    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

    • Anderson, E-L. and Patterson, A. (Forthcoming under contract), Dependent Agency in the Global Health Regime, Palgrave MacMillan: Basingstoke

    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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