Currently, my main research project is entitled 'Mining and Corporate Social Responsibility: Linking Global Drivers and Local Impacts' funded by a 3-year fellowship from the British Academy (details of my award here
) with research costs being supplemented by the ESID Research Centre and the Hallsworth Fund. This research project examines the global governance and development impacts of the extractive sector in Africa; specifically, relationships between emerging international governance regimes, mining companies and changing multi-faceted community development corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes in Zambia. Over the three years of the fellowship, this research will develop a critical multi-scalar analysis that links international governance and an in-depth understanding of changing mining company practice with the development impacts of extractive industry in Zambia. Linking these three elements together in a single study, this research will trace the effects of global pressures and dynamics in local communities in Africa. This will generate a unique case study with insights into wider processes of global governance, the role of the private sector in development, the effects of new complex modes of governance in developing countries and the role of extraction in broader development.
I am also engaged in a large project on 'Tracking the politics of natural resources and inclusive development over time' with Professor Tony Bebbington and Professor Paul Mosley funded by theEffective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre for which I am heading up the work programme looking at CSR and mining. This project is examining the role of natural resource extraction and political settlements in Bolivia, Ghana, Peru and Zambia and the implications of this for inclusive development.
In my more historical work, I am interested in the ways in which states and private actors worked together to expand and entrench new forms of power relations, behaviours and environmental practice in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries and its enduring consequences, with a focus on Nigeria and Zambia. In my PhD (at the University of Manchester) I examined colonialism, mining and the historical roots of inequality in Zambia, one of the world's poorest nations. Here, I drew on literatures in geography, development studies, history, politics, and anthropology, and on primary research (interviews, archives and direct observation) to develop a political ecological account of colonial power and environmental change in the establishment of a global centre for copper production in colonial Zambia. In my thesis I demonstrated how the rise of the Copperbelt mining industry rested on practices which collectively produced unequal regimes of access to, and control over, nature and resources with a lasting legacy of widespread poverty, environmental degradation and stark inequality.