Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Professor Gordon Crawford

Professor of Development Politics

I specialise in the politics of development. I hold a Bachelors degree in Sociology, a Masters in Development Studies, and a PhD in Development Politics. I have worked at the University of Leeds since 1993.

I am academic lead for the WUN network on Transformative Justice and I am also co-convenor of the Governance Working Group of the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI). Additionally, I am a member of the editorial team of the journal Africa Spectrum, an open access journal.

Research Interests

My research focuses on issues of democracy, human rights and development, especially in Africa.

Recent research has focused on the ‘Rights, Power and Civic Action’ research project. This has explored the interrelationship between local struggles for human rights and the dynamics of power.

As well as a general role in this project, I have been responsible for the Ghana case-study. The results of this significant research project will be published in Human Rights, Power and Non-Governmental Action, edited by Bård A. Andreassen and Gordon Crawford, and to be published in the Routledge ‘Research in Human Rights’ series in 2012.

I am an academic lead for the WUN research network on ‘Transformative Justice’ in societies that experience mass violence. This is a new international network that emerges out of a critique of the more established notion of ‘transitional justice’ in post-conflict societies and aims to develop a new research agenda, one that offers a concept of justice that is more ‘transformative’ than ‘transitional’, i.e. that seeks to change social structures linked to violence in ways that are more inclusive, less unequal and more fair.

Other longer standing research interests have focused on international democracy promotion and on decentralisation. I have critiqued EU democracy promotion policies in Africa and in Central Asia, and have examined the linkages between decentralisation and poverty reduction and a rights-based approach to development, with fieldwork undertaken in Ghana.

Professor Gordon Crawford talks about his current research interests

Participatory Development and Participatory Democracy: Pathway to Social Transformation?
Keynote speech by Prof. Gordon Crawford at Third International Conference on Participatory Democracy, Kathmandu, Nepal, 18-19 December 2014. Organised by ActionAid International Nepal and Forum for Participatory Democracy.


I teach core modules on the undergraduate and postgraduate Development Studies programmes, including theories and strategies of development. I also teach a research-led postgraduate module on 'Democracy and Development'. I am a qualified teacher in further and adult education, where I taught prior to my current academic career.

PhD Supervision

I am keen to supervise enthusiastic research students in areas including:

  • Decentralisation
  • Democratisation and governance
  • Human rights and development
  • Alternatives and resistance to neo-liberal globalisation
  • Participatory development

Research proposals on Africa (and Ghana in particular) are especially welcomed, as well as from selected countries in Asia and Latin America.

Key Publications

Journal Articles
  • ‘Human Rights and Development: Putting Power and Politics at the Centre’, in Human Rights Quarterly, forthcoming 2015 [with Bård A. Andreassen]
  • 'Leveraging national and global links for local rights advocacy: WACAM’s challenge to the power of transnational gold mining in Ghana', in Canadian Journal of Development Studies Vol. 35, No. 4 (2014), 483–502, with Nana Akua Anyidoho.
  • Crawford, G. 'NGOs, Rights-Based Approaches and the Potential for Progressive Development in Local Contexts: Constraints and Challenges in Northern Ghana’, in Journal of Human Rights Practice, vol. 5 issue 1, 2013 [with Matilda Aberese Ako and Nana Akua Anyidoho].
  • Crawford, G. ‘Democratization in Africa 1990-2010L an assessment', in Democtratization vol 18, no. 2, April 2011, Special issue Democratization in Africa: challenges and prospects [with Gabrielle Lynch], pp.275-310
  • Crawford, G. Decentralisation and struggles for basic rights in Ghana: opportunities and constraints’ in International Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 14 No.1, 2010. pp.92-125.
  • Crawford, G. Consolidating Democracy in Ghana: Progress and Prospects?’, in Democratization vol.17 no.1, Feb 2010, [with A.-G. Abdulai], pp.26-67.
  • Crawford, G. The World Bank and Ghana’s Poverty Reduction Strategies: Strengthening the state or consolidating neo-liberalism?’ in Labour, Capital and Society Vol. 42 Nos.1-2, 2009, pp.82-115, [with A.-G. Abdulai].
  • Crawford, G. Making democracy a reality? The politics of decentralisation and the limits to local democracy in Ghana’ in Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Vol. 27 No. 1, 2009, pp.57-83.
  • Crawford, G. (2008) Decentralization and the Limits to Poverty Reduction: Findings from Ghana. Oxford Development Studies, 36(2), pp.235-258.
  • Crawford, G. (2008) EU Human Rights and Democracy Promotion in Central Asia: From Lofty Priniciples to Lowly Self-Interests. Perspectives on European Politics and Society, 9(2), pp.172-191.
  • Crawford, G. (2007) Promoting Democracy in Central Asia: What's Needed and Why It Won't Happen. Sicherheit und Frieden/Security and Peace, 3, pp.133-38.

Chapters in Books

  • ‘Participatory Democracy Initiatives in Europe’ in Participatory Democracy: Practices and Reflections, edited by Mukti Rijal, Institute for Governance and Development and ActionAid Nepal, (2014), pp.109-133, [with Mirjam Werner]
  • 'Human Rights, Power and Civic Action: Theoretical Considerations’ in Human Rights, Power and Civic Action, Bård Anders Andreassen & Gordon Crawford (eds.), Routledge (April 2013), [with B.A. Andreassen].
  • 'Ghana: Struggles for rights in a democratizing context’ in Human Rights, Power and Civic Action, Bård Anders Andreassen & Gordon Crawford (eds.), Routledge (April 2013), [with N.A Anyidoho].
  • 'Power, Human Rights and Civic Action: Conclusions’, in Human Rights, Power and Civic Action, Bård Anders Andreassen & Gordon Crawford (eds.), Routledge (April 2013), [with B.A. Andreassen].
  • 'EU Human Rights and Democracy Promotion in Africa: Normative Power or Realist Interests?’, in The European Union in Africa: incoherent policies, asymmetrical partnership, declining relevance? edited by Maurizio Carbone, Manchester University Press (2013), pp.142-164
  • 'Democracy, Poverty and Inequality’ in Routledge Handbook of Democratization , edited by Jeffrey Haynes, (2011), [with A.-G. Abdulai]
  • Crawford, G. and A.-G. Abdulai ‘Liberal Democracy Promotion and Civil Society Strengthening in Ghana’, in The Conceptual Politics of Democracy Promotion, edited by Milja Kurki and Christopher Hobson, London: Routledge
  • Crawford, G. ‘Human Rights and Democracy in EU-Africa Relations: A Shared, Normative Agenda?’ in One Europe, One Africa: Changing dynamics in EU-Africa relations, edited by Maurizio Carbone, Manchester: Manchester University Press
  • Crawford, G. and A.-G. Abdulai, ‘Democracy, Poverty and Inequality’ in Routledge Handbook of Democratization, edited by Jeffrey Haynes, London: Routledge.

Edited Books

Media Contact Areas

  • Political events in Ghana
  • Issues of decentralisation in developing countries

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