Research

My work is described in detail in a variety of websites that are listed on this page. Some of these are bespoke sites built for different projects, others are summary websites that pull together work from a variety of different themes. This page lists them all and explains how they fit together. You can also visit the list of blogs I have written to access quick introductions to many of these topics and my take on them.

My research covers these topics:

Environmentalism and Conservation
This site contains all sorts of writings about conservation policy, conservation NGOs, natural resoure management and celebrity advocacy for the environment. It is a compilation of 20 years or so of work on overlapping research questions. Each page on the site covers a different topic, provides background to it, and makes available different publications on these topics.

I am involved in three on-going research projects which each have bespoke websites. The NEPSUS project works on natural resource management in south-east Tanzania, Greenmentality examines issues surrounding the green economy in the Global South and Convivial Conservation studies different responses to living with apex predators.

All of this work hinges on strong collaborations with a broad network of partners overseas. This is the site of one of the conferences I helped to organise that convened this network at the University of Dodoma in Tanzania.

Other projects that stem from this work include a website to provide teaching resources to understand the award winning film ‘Green’. It is available here.

Rural Livelihoods and Development Data
One of my main research interests currently is the nature of change that is taking place in rural African societies, and the adequacy of development data to capture those changes. This includes two projects, both funded by DfID/ESRC, on long term livelihood change in Tanzania and irrigation in Africa (called SAFI). There is also a large EU-funded project (Africultures) that tries to make remote-sensing data more easily accessible to food producers and decision-makers in 8 different African states.

NGOs
I have been interested in sectoral studies of development NGOs for some time. The first attempt to do this tried to map all conservation NGOs based in sub-Saharan Africa. That work is described here.

Currently I am collaborating on a project that is mapping the development NGO network in the UK. This research has lead to a rather wonderful offshoot which is a website called “ngoexplorer” which allows you to search intensive, and download data from, the Charity Commission (covering English and Welsh charities). It is described in this blog.

Celebrity Advocacy
An offshoot of my research into capitalism and conservation lead to a study of the work of celebrity in environmental affairs that is described here. That later blossomed into a full study of the broader interaction of celebrity advocacy in international development. That project is described here. An international symposium that I organised on the topic is described here.

Other Interests
I have also worked on the rise of microfinance in Tanzania, and the importance of understanding diversity within microfinance organisations. A copy of the paper I co-wrote on that is available here.

Isn’t this all a bit eclectic?
Well, the projects described on this site are diverse. They cover a large range of disciplines and research questions. But they are united by two themes. First, by an abiding interest in inequality and how it is perpetrated by different forms of environmentalism, conservation and natural resource management, by economic change, by civil society and by representations of people, places and issues in the media or by development data. Second, I have often found that firmly rooted truths that featured strongly in different development debates become unstable, and often untrue, when you look carefully at the empirical data that support them. This has been the case whether we are talking about dryland degradation, the necessity of local support for sustainable conservation, change in rural poverty in East Africa or levels of celebrity engagement in the UK. The world as we think it is gets much less obvious when we scrutinize it carefully.

Finally, in case it is not already obvious, all the work above is hinges on extensive collaborations with researchers all over the world. I have been very fortunate to work with so many amazing people. I have not hyper-linked my colleagues, friends and partners on this page – it would quickly get way too complicated – but please see links in all the publications and the websites themselves.

Updated 26th April 2019

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