Much of my academic career has been devoted to understanding the relationship between ‘place’ and ‘economy’ in Africa. I have sought to generate policy relevant knowledge on how changing agrarian structures transform and influence the way rural communities relate to natural resources (particularly land) and, how this relationship in turn shapes the way they make a living. Links between the rural and urban space economies also mean some of my work necessarily looks at how changes in agrarian structures affect the flows of commodities between the two space economies. Much of the research I do has a focus on smallholder livelihood production systems. I seek to understand global, national and local forces shaping the rural space economy in which smallholder farmers operate. I investigate their interactions with the state, markets, technology and the environment. In doing so I try to do what Doreen Masey describes as giving ‘process’ and ‘character’ to space by tracking rural social change both in the short term and, in what French historian Fernand Braudel has called the longue duree. On markets, I have a particular interest in understanding how rural commodity markets (especially land) work, the factors driving them and how they change social relations and reconfigure the rural space economy.
Recently I have worked on: Post Crisis Reconstruction in Zimbabwe; Venture Philanthropy. I am currently the principal investigator on an ESRC-GCRF funded Strategic Network looking at the re-emergence of National Development Planning in the global south. See more here
To date I have supervised 14 PhD students to completion and am interested in students who want to do research in the areas related to:
- Agrarian Change and Social Transformation in Africa
- National Development Planning in the Global South
- Sustainable Development Goals
- Development Management
- Poverty and Wellbeing in Africa