Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Global Development and Justice

In this Section:

The International Development group adopts an interdisciplinary approach to analysing the dynamics of economic, political and socio-cultural transformation in the Global South. We examine debates at the centre of global development challenges: controversies around agrarian change, gender norms and practices, crime, democratisation, education, food sovereignty, health, human rights, poverty, markets and labour.

We undertake fieldwork across the Global South and have regional expertise in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and, in particular, Sub Saharan Africa. We are particularly interested in the inter-relationships between global, national and local actors in contested strategies for development.

Our current focus is on examining the changing character of neoliberal globalization and its impact on governance agendas; and the politics of security, food, education, livelihoods, health and natural resources at local, national and global levels.

Our public engagement activity is extensive and we have close links with external partners including UN organisations, the FCO, DFID and various NGOs. We are also active on the Editorial and International Advisory Boards of a wide range of international peer reviewed journals.

We are involved in the Centre for Global Development, a university-wide network that promotes cross-disciplinary approaches; work with the Leeds University Centre of African Studies; and co-founded the Yorkshire African Studies Network.

Our research aims

As a team, we aim to interrogate some of the most pertinent issues confronting rapidly changing societies in the Global South. We explore why and how processes of change unfold and how they, in turn, transform these societies in political, economic, socio-cultural terms.  

We aim also to engage in dialogue with a range of actors involved in processes of global transformation, to shape debate, and to influence policy and practice. We work with national executives and legislatures, non-governmental organisations, multilaterals such as the UN, and marginalised communities. Through our media work and other forms of engagement, we also inform public debates.

Phd students

We support the next generation of practitioners and researchers by running research-led Masters programme, informed by a range of disciplinary specialisms.

Many of our doctoral students hold competitive scholarships, and all research students are supported by the White Rose Doctoral Training Centre.

History of the group

Our core team comprises eight members and includes established scholars with extensive experience of working in the Global South and early career researchers with particular interests in contemporary development challenges in Africa.

Our multidisciplinary and cross regional focus highlights issues of major contemporary importance. We have held seminar series on the ‘Global Crisis and the Developing World’ and ‘Development in the Downturn’.  We hosted the Transformative Gender Justice Workshop in 2013; the African Studies Association (UK) bi-annual conference in conjunction with LUCAS in 2012; and in 2009, both the 'Democratisation in Africa' conference and the Society of Latin American Studies annual conference.

Work on international development has been closely linked to the Centre for Global Development since its launch in 1984. 

Research into international development at the School of Political and International Studies concentrates on issues of entitlements, rights, responses, power and resistance in the study of global poverty and inequality.

A defining characteristic of our research is examination of change at different levels of society. Focusing on the relationships between international, national and local actors, we build critical analyses of the struggle over resources, power, and social capital in times of apparent political stability, as well as in times of direct conflict.

We explore the forces that bring about large-scale change also underpin, drive and make possible regressive and progressive local-level transformations. One strand of our work is to identify, make visible and interrogate these forces - their origins, characteristics and repercussions - through exploration of crises, conflict, struggle, daily survival, and flourishing. We also look at how collective and individual choices, actions, struggles, and social change at local levels can bring influence to bear on national and international actors, institutions and policies.

A second strand of research involves critique of neoliberal doctrine, practice and transformations. Since the onset of the neoliberal age in the 1980s, debates about development within mainstream academic and policy circles have focused on a broad range of themes, yet with a restrictive and often depoliticised analytical focus. The mainstream debates that have dominated international development agendas, such as the Millennium Development Goals and ideas of poverty, have for instance been reluctant to examine inequality and its causes. Our research aims to go to the root causes of domination, poverty, inequality and marginalization, exploring the interest groups, and forms of power that drive, benefit from, and reproduce (gendered) social, political and economic inequalities.

A third strand of work, which builds on the preceding two, is the exploration of social practices and structures. Through the study of social policy, social activism [PDF], and local-level livelihoods and survival, we offer sociological analysis of local strategies of resistance, compliance and adaptation; and we question the normative development frameworks of social inclusion and exclusion.


Specific research interests

Emma-Louise Anderson

Emma-Louise Anderson works on global health and specialises in the gender politics of HIV and food security in Africa. Her research focuses on Malawi, where she has been working with the government, donors and NGOs (including networks of people living with HIV) since 2005.  She has experience working with so-called 'hard-to reach' populations in the Chichewa and Chitumbuka languages.

Alexander Beresford

Alexander Beresford's research examines how global social transformations are impacting upon politics and development in Africa, with a particular focus on South Africa. His core focus is on how South Africa's post-apartheid integration into the global economy has generated social and political change within the country, including how this has augmented rapid social transformation in the workplace and the labour movement response.

He also examines electoral politics in South Africa and how South Africa's emergence as a global power is reconfiguring its relationship with the rest of the Global South and influencing global institutions.

Ray Bush

Ray Bush works on the political economy of Africa and the Near East.  His publications and research include the analysis of global social transformation, the impact at the local level and how workers and farmers resist capitalist impoverishment.  His recent work has challenged the ‘Africa rising’ debate and interrogated the consequences of  economic and political reform in North Africa.  His film with collaborator Habib Ayeb, Fellahin will be shown in early 2014.

Gordon Crawford

Gordon Crawford specialises in issues of human rights and democracy and their relationship to processes of global development in general and poverty and inequality in particular.

His teaching is informed by fieldwork-based research, undertaken mainly in Ghana, including issues of decentralisation and poverty reduction, rights-based approaches to development and power relations, and on China-Africa relations. He also writes on issues of democracy promotion by international agencies, notably the European Union, and is involved in an international research project with ActionAid International on participatory democracy.

Caroline Dyer

Caroline Dyer researches education as both a means and end of social transformation. She is a specialist in nomadic pastoralism with particular interests in learning, livelihoods and the terms of inclusion associated with mainstream and alternative forms of education provision.

She also works on teacher education and pedagogical strategies that foster flexibility and inclusive education provision for marginalised children. She has worked in India, Afghanistan, Kenya and Yemen and, as well as migrating with pastoralists in Gujarat, has collaborated on the Education For All agenda with a wide range of donor, government and non-government agencies.

Jörg Wiegratz

Jörg Wiegratz researches processes related to the emergence and consolidation of neoliberal market societies, especially but not only in Africa.  More specifically, he explores the dynamics of moral restructuring; that is the changes in dominant values, norms and practices brought about by neoliberal reforms and transformations.

Currently, his focus is on the relationship between neoliberalism, economic fraud and moral economy, including the moral economies of earning a living, fraud, power and poverty. His work merges theoretical aspects of moral economy, cultural political economy, everyday IPE, criminology and anthropology. In the past he has also researched global and domestic value chains, industrial development, and human resource development, predominantly with an empirical focus on Uganda.

Polly Wilding

Polly Wilding’s work unpacks common understandings of ‘security’ and in particular youth violence, analysing the blindspots and biases that leave women’s voices and experiences in the context of urban violence unheard and trivialised.

She applies a gender lens to the issue of youth gangs, police aggression and structural violence in Brazil to show the importance of understanding the active roles women play, the influence they wield, and the abuses women suffer to producing a more holistic analysis of these contexts and the dynamics that reproduce violence.

The International Development Group welcome research proposals on a wide range of issues associated with development, human security and global inequalities.

Staff research interests include democratisation, human rights, livelihoods, health, education, gender, poverty, labour, agrarian change, food sovereignty, violence and crime.

Regional specialisms include: North Africa and the Near East, Sub-Saharan Africa, South and East Asia, and Latin America – and specifically Brazil, India, South Africa, Malawi, Ghana, Uganda and Egypt.

PhD supervision areas

Please see individual profiles for supervision details.

Current studentships

The majority of International Development PhD students have been awarded competitive scholarships. In recent years, one home student and five international PGRs have held university or POLIS scholarships, while four were funded by employer scholarships or government ministries from their home countries.

One of our home students had a POLIS scholarship, and two have held ESRC scholarships, jointly supervised with Sheffield and York, as part of the international development studentship network in Transformative Justice. One of our previous graduates includes Dr Hagi Geingob, prime minister of Namibia 1990-2002 and since 2012.


Postgraduate taught programmes

Postgraduate taught modules

  • Global Inequalities and Development
  • Development Management Techniques
  • Research Methodology for Development
  • Democracy and Development
  • Africa in the Contemporary World
  • Education in Development
  • Gender, Globalisation and Development
  • The Global Politics of Health: Power and Inequity

Undergraduate modules

  • Making of the Modern World
  • Global Development Challenges
  • Development and Social Change
  • Development Practice
  • State and Politics in Africa
  • Land, Fuel and Agriculture
  • Gender and Violence
  • Violence and Reconciliation in Africa

Editorial boards

Our team is actively engaged in range of editorial roles and peer review processes with academic journals, research councils and other funding bodies.

Alexander Beresford currently edits Critical African Studies and is on the editorial board of the Review of African Political Economy and the Journal of Southern African Studies.

Raymond Bush is member of the Editorial Working Group of the journal Review of African Political Economy and on the International Advisory Board of Journal of Agrarian Change.  He is also a member the editorial board of Governance in Africa.

Gordon Crawford co-edited a special issue of Democratization: ‘Democratization in Africa: challenges and prospects’ with Gabrielle Lynch, vol. 18 no.2 (April 2011).

Caroline Dyer is Chair of the Editorial Board of Compare: A Journal of International and Comparative Education and Chair of the British Association for International and Comparative Education. She is also an executive editor for the International Journal of Educational Development; executive editor for Nomadic Peoples; and a Board member of the South African Journal of Education.

All members of the International Development team actively support research quality in the academic community by regularly reviewing research articles across the range of top ranked development journals and journals in our disciplinary specialisms and area expertise.

We are active in reviewing research proposals for national and international funding bodies and research councils and also review for leading academic publishers including Routledge, Palgrave Macmillan, Ashgate, and Zed.

Latest key publications

  • Anderson, E.-L. 2012. Infectious women: Gendered bodies and HIV in Malawi. International Feminist Journal of Politics 14 (2), 267-287
  • Beresford, A. 2012. The Politics of Regenerative Nationalism in South Africa. Journal of Southern African Studies 38 (4), 863-884
  • Beresford, A. 2012. Organised Labour and the Politics of Class Formation in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Review of African Political Economy 39 (134), 569-589 
  • Bush, R. and Ayeb, H. (eds.) 2012. Marginality and Exclusion in Egypt. London: Zed Books
  • Bush, R. 2011. Coalitions for Dispossession and Resistance?  Land, Politics and Agrarian Reform in Egypt. In 'The Dynamics of Reform Coalitions in the Arab World', Special Issue of British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 38 (3), 391-405
  • Crawford, G. and Andreassen, B. A. (eds.) 2013. Human Rights, Power and Civic Action: Comparative analyses of struggles for rights in developing societies. London: Routledge (Research in Human Rights series)
  • Crawford, G., Ako, M. and Anyidoho, N. 2013. NGOs, Rights-Based Approaches and the Potential for Progressive Development in Local Contexts: Constraints and Challenges in Northern Ghana. Journal of Human Rights Practice 5 (1), 46-74  
  • Dyer, C. 2014. Learning and Livelihoods: Education For All and the marginalisation of mobile pastoralists. London: Routledge (Education, Poverty and International Development series).
  • Dyer, C. 2013. Does mobility have to mean being hard to reach? Mobile pastoralists and education’s ‘terms of inclusion’. Compare 43 (5), 601-621
  • Wiegratz, J., 2012. The neoliberal harvest: the proliferation and normalisation of economic fraud in a market society. In: Winlow, S. and R. Atkinson (eds.) New directions in crime and deviancy. London: Routledge.
  • Wiegratz, J., 2010. Fake capitalism? The dynamics of neoliberal moral restructuring and pseudo-development: the case of Uganda. Review of African Political Economy 37 (124), 123-137.
  • Wilding, P. 2013. Gendered meanings and everyday experiences of violence in urban Brazil. Gender, Place and Culture. Vol. 21 No. 2. 
  • Wilding P. 2012. Negotiating boundaries: Gender, violence and transformation in Brazil. Basingstoke: Palgrave. (Gender and Politics series).

Annual seminar series and conferences

The International Development Group organises regular in-house seminars and research workshops, and hosts guest speakers. We integrate PhD, Masters and Undergraduate students into the research environment by organising Teach-Ins on current development issues, and encourage student presentations and engagement in all our events.

In addition, both LUCAS and the Centre for Global Development host their own Annual Lectures and a range of annual workshops and events. The Researchers in Development Network (RiDNet), associated with the Centre for Global Development, hosts an annual methods conference for PhD students and early career researchers.

Networks

Local networks

The Centre for Global Development (CGD) is a cross university network of researchers working on topics related to, or carried out in, developing countries. Set up in 1984, it has always had close ties to the International Development group in POLIS, and currently has six members of POLIS on the management board, including the Director, Polly Wilding.

The Researchers in Development Network (RiDNet) is a multi-disciplinary, cross faculty network for PhD and early career researchers, which is affiliated to CGD. RiDNet organises an annual methods conference and a range of brown-bag lunches and seminars throughout the year.

Alongside LUCAS and CGD, we also play an active part in a number of interdisciplinary centres and networks across the university. For example, we have active members in the Security and Justice Research Group, which is part of the University of Leeds Building Sustainable Societies Transformation Fund agenda.

We have links with the Leeds Development Education Centre, and with the Leeds-based chapter of Oxfam.

More information


National networks

The International Development team plays a central role in the ESRC White Rose Doctoral Training Centre (Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York consortium), due to its role in the Development pathways.

The group is well networked within the Development Studies Association (DSA), British International Studies Association (BISA), Society of Latin American Studies (SLAS), African Studies Association (ASAUK), the Political Studies Association (PSA) and the British Association for International and Comparative Education (BAICE).  In September 2014, for example, it will host the BISA International Political Economy workshop on the theme of ‘The New Normal’.

More information


International networks

The International Development group plays a role in various organisations and societies with international reach. Members of the group are well networked within the European Association of Development Research and Training (EADI), International Studies Association (ISA), World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples (WAMIP), UK / Unesco Literacy Working Group, and German Political Science Association (DVPW), among others.

Along with the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York and the Centre for Global Development, Gordon Crawford was a founding member of the Transformative Justice Network, an eighteen-university consortium that includes Bergen, Harvard, NYU and Sydney, and led by Leeds and York. With the support of the World Universities Network (WUN), Transformative Justice Network members, including Polly Wilding, apply an interdisciplinary approach to various aspects of transformative justice after mass violence and the role of non-governmental actors.

Caroline Dyer is involved in World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples (WAMIP) and the UK-UNESCO Literacy Working Group; and as its current Chair, she represents BAICE in the World Council of Comparative Education Societies.

Jörg Wiegratz is part of a joint effort of Makerere University and the University of Leeds to launch an ‘East African research network on oil and gas’.

Ray Bush is a founding member of the Thimar collective research group on agriculture and development in North Africa and the Middle East.

Emma-Louise Anderson is part of the Global Health network, involving colleagues from Australia (ANU, Griffith, Sydney); Canada (Carleton, UBC) and the US (Washington, Rutgers) and crossing the boundaries of public health, international relations and development.

More information

Key conference presentations and guest lectures

Emma-Louise Anderson

  • ‘The Embodied Politics of Food: Navigating Dependency in Malawi. International Studies Association Conference (ISA), Toronto – March 2014.
  • Panel Convenor and Chair – ‘Infectious disease control: Securitization and policy under globalization’. And presentions: ‘Sex for Food Security: Strategies of ‘extraversion’ for mitigating food insecurity in Malawi’ and ‘Gender Relations and Understanding HIV Risk in Malawi: Empowerment and Social Change’ ISA, San Francisco – March 2013.

Alexander Beresford

  • Class formation and the politics of labour in South Africa. Invited lecture, November 2012, University of Leicester.
  • The ANC’s centenary and the question of democracy in South Africa. Invited lecture, October 2012, University of Bradford.

Ray Bush

  • Distinguished Africanist Lecture, Ghent Afrika Platform, Ghent University, Ghent, December 2012, ‘Making the twenty first century its own: janus faced African (under) development’.
  • ‘Egyptian Food Security’ paper to the International Conference on Food Security in Dry Lands, Doha, November 2012, organized by State of Qatar, IFAD, World Bank, FAO and UNESCO.

Gordon Crawford

  • Keynote speaker at international conference on participatory democracy, Kathmandu, Nepal, December 2013:  ‘Struggles for Democratization: Participatory Democracy in the 21st Century’. Organised by ActionAid International.
  • Keynote speaker, Summer School on the ‘Politics and Economics of Aid’, organised by the Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Antwerp, June 2013: ‘Development Co-operation: Old and New Challenges for the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Caroline Dyer

  • Plenary speaker at regional conference on educating nomadic pastoralists in Francophone Africa, Niger, December 2013, organized by the government of Niger and international donor agencies: 'Educating Mobile Pastoralist Children: international experience'.
  • Keynote speaker at policy and practitioner conference ‘Nomadic Education: lessons drawn from international experience in Afghanistan’  organized by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (Kabul, June 2012): 'Educating nomadic children: learning from international experience'.

Jörg Wiegratz

  • ‘The moral economies of neoliberalism: the case of corporate fraud’, International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy (IIPPE), Fourth Annual Conference in Political Economy, International Institute for Social Studies, The Hague, July 2013.
  • ‘From fake to civic capitalism? The neoliberalisation of moral economies and the crisis’, Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI), second annual conference, ‘Beyond Austerity vs Growth: The Future of European Political Economy’, July 2013.

Polly Wilding

  • ‘Non-judicial justice? Women's strategies for challenging domestic violence in contexts of chronic urban insecurity’ Violence at the Urban Margins Workshop, April 2013, University of Texas – with Mo Hume.
  • ‘“No one takes responsibility”: uncovering the gendered political connections between multiple forms of insecurity” April 2013, SLAS conference, University of Manchester Panel: Securing the future with justice and dignity in Latin America – with Mo Hume.

Key roundtables and discussion panels

Alexander Beresford is currently organising a stream of panels on behalf of the Review of African Political Economy for the ASAUK 2014 titled: ‘From Global Crisis to Africa Rising.’

Ray Bush was invited as a reviewer of the FAO, UN regional food security strategy, Middle East and North Africa, convened in Cairo, October 2013.

Gordon Crawford spoke at the workshop ‘Living in an extractive state: Exploring impacts of oil and gas industries in Ghana’, University of Bergen / Chr. Michelsens Institute, in Bergen November 2013. His paper was titled ‘Experiences from mining in Ghana and implications for the oil sector’. He contributed to the panel debate on ‘Rights and Activism’ at the public launch of the Sheffield Institute for International Development, in April 2013.

Caroline Dyer participated in panel discussion of the 2013 DFID-commissioned rigorous literature review on teacher education.

Polly Wilding, co-organised with Jelke Boesten, the Transformative Gender Justice Workshop held in Leeds in September 2013. This Transformative Justice event brought together internationally renowned scholars from Europe, Australia and Brazil to discuss the potential of judicial and non-judicial justice mechanisms to have transformative outcomes upon gender relations and the position of women in countries with histories of political violence, conflict and chronic criminal and social violence.

Presentations from the workshop will be published as part of a special issue of Women’s Studies International Forum in Spring 2015.

Jörg Wiegratz was a plenary panel speaker at the ‘How Corrupt is Britain?’ conference, University of Liverpool, in 2013, with a contribution titled 'De-neoliberalising the economy?'

Partners and stakeholders

The international development group is active in collaborating with and advising a wide range of stakeholders, including policy makers and governmental and non-governmental bodies such as the UK government Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Commonwealth Secretariat, Unicef, Unesco, International Labour Organisation, ActionAid International and USAID.

Caroline Dyer was commissioned by Unesco in 2014 to write a background paper for the 2015 Global Monitoring Report on Education For All on mobile pastoralists and education.

She was a member of the Education for Nomads team commissioned by the government of Kenya to work on a strategy for educating mobile pastoralists in 2010 and has contributed policy advice on this topic to the government of Afghanistan and the State government of Gujarat in India, as well as convening a regional workshop in New Delhi with the Commonwealth Secretariat.

She has advised the Government of India on revitalising the national teacher education scheme and contributed to India’s 2011 Human Development Report. She has been commissioned as a consultant to the European Commission, ILO and Unicef on social development and education inclusion.

Media work

Members of our team regularly appear on the radio and in news articles, and several have also written commentaries for newspapers and opinion pieces for key global debate websites such as Truthout.

Alex Beresford has commentated on the death of Nelson Mandela, and what it means for South Africa’s future, on BBC One’s ‘Breakfast’, BBC Radio FiveLive, BBC Radio Leeds and Australian Broadcasting Committee (ABC) ‘Good Morning Australia’. He is regularly interviewed for political analysis by South Africa’s leading newspaper, the Mail and Guardian. He has also blogged on the Royal African Society website: South African solutions for Africa’s problems and The Conversation: Is there life for South African democracy after Mandela?

Raymond Bush gave fifteen TV and radio interviews during, and in the aftermath of the Egyptian uprisings of 2011, including for BBC News; Radio France, China Radio international and Radio Perth.

Jörg Wiegratz was interviewed by Oil in Uganda: Address power imbalances for oil sector to thrive and has written for Uganda’s Daily Monitor: Confronting neoliberal business culture in Uganda, Uganda’s The Independent: The neglected side of Uganda's liberal economic reforms and the UK’s Centre for Crime and Justice Series: The normalisation of western fraud.

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