Charis is a Presidential Fellow in Socio-Environmental Systems at the Global Development Institute. Her research interests sit at the intersection of critical development studies, human and environmental geography, and political ecology. Her current research focuses on the impacts of large-scale investments in land and natural resources on rural landscapes and rural livelihoods. Her most recent work has focused on investments in infrastructure, extractive resources, industrial agriculture, and biodiversity conservation in East and Central Africa.
Charis is interested in how contemporary investments in land and natural resources are shaped and made possible by the past, including processes of colonial land alienation, enclosure, displacement, and settlement. Her work also looks at changing human-environment relations around sites of land and natural resource investment, as well as how corporate-community engagement practices are used to manage or offset the impacts of investments on rural people and rural landscapes. Key themes running through her work include: coloniality, knowledge, expertise, governance, citizenship, mobility and livelihoods. Her approach to research is politically engaged and influenced by the scholar-activism tradition – prioritising collaboration with civil society researchers and placing emphasis on collective learning, reflection and action.
Before moving to the University of Manchester, Charis was a Lecturer in International Development in the Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield and a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Political Science at the University of Guelph in Canada. Charis also holds a research affiliation with the East African Institute at Aga Khan University Kenya.