Professor with special responsibilities
Centre for African Studies
Karen Blixens Plads 16
2300 København K
Primary fields of research
My core research interests combine political economy and cultural politics approaches, and the use of ethnography among other methods, to understand the dynamics and spaces of social, economic, political and physical exclusion/inclusion in both agrarian and urban settings, at smaller and larger scales. I am particularly concerned with how these processes unfold and generate change – both symbolic and material – in contexts of displacement and crisis. Within this general framing, I have a special interest in the relationship between sustained crisis and different dimensions of state making and citizen making. Partly reflecting some of these interests, I am responsible for the Research Platform at CAS on ‘Sovereignties and Citizenship’. Geographically, most of my work has been focused on southern Africa, particularly Zimbabwe and to a lesser extent Mozambique. My most recently concluded project has been on Political Economies of Displacement, culminating in an edited volume due out in 2014 entitled Displacement Economies in Africa: Paradoxes of Crisis and Creativity. In addition to being a strongly empirically grounded collection (with cases from across the continent), its ambitions include a theoretical challenge to more classic conceptualisations of displacement.
After working extensively in rural settings for a long time, I shifted focus in recent years to the urban. As such, I am currently engaged in two distinct yet complementary research projects:
Changing Modes of Urban Governance and Citizenship in Contexts of Crisis
Focusing empirically on Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city, this project examines how ongoing political and economic crisis has altered or sustained or in other ways impacted on various forms of authority, and on governance practices at different levels of formality and informality, and simultaneously reshaped notions and practices of urban and national citizenship. This project is part of a wider collaborative enterprise that also includes a PhD project I supervise, undertaken by Hannah Elliott which focuses on a frontier town in Kenya, as well as several other associated urban-related projects. Together these fall under the larger umbrella of a Danish-funded collaborative research programme entitled ‘Property and Citizenship in Developing Societies’ (PROCIT). See http://www.procit.dk.
Urban Displacement and its Aftermaths: Reordering Urban Economies, Governance and Citizenship in Zimbabwe
This project takes as its starting point the mass urban displacements in Zimbabwe in the mid-2000s. Also focused in Bulawayo, it examines more specifically the implications of such displacement and subsequent (if unexpected) forms of urban/peri-urban resettlement for economic and social life conditions and evolving patterns and practices of local governance and citizenship. This falls under a Norwegian-funded collaborative research project entitled ‘Economic Conditions of Displacement’.
Related to this new urban orientation, I have co-convened urban-related panels at the European African Studies Association (ECAS) conference (Lisbon, June 2013) and Nordic Development Research Conference (Helsinki, November 2013). I also have initiated and co-convened a series of Urban Seminars in 2013, which shall continue in 2014. I have several ongoing writing projects linked to this urban work which have been presented in draft form at various conferences/seminars in the past few years.
Regular teaching includes:
Core Masters courses on 'Politics, Development and Change in Africa', and 'Nature, Population and Society in Africa'
Thesis Seminar for Masters students undertaking thesis research projects
Intenisve Methodology Lab for all CAS students
Optional courses etc:
co-teaching on Urban Africa
partial teaching on African Mobilities and Displacement
occasional one-off lectures linked to my own research topics
Extensive supervision of diverse Masters theses