Department of Development Studies

Dr Andrew Newsham

Key information

Department of Development Studies Senior Lecturer in International Development
Russell Square: College Buildings
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Telephone number
020 7898 4884
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I am Lecturer in International Development in the Department of Development Studies. Sitting in the overlap between human geography and anthropology, I bring practical and theoretical insights from political ecology and science and technology studies to a research agenda which encompasses environment and development in Southern Africa and South America. Broadly, my research fits into two areas: a) the relationship between conservation and development; and b) climate change adaptation and development.

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Research interests

As highlighted in my bio, my empirical research is most related to two areas: the relationship between conservation and development; and climate change adaptation and development. On the former, I wrote my PhD on privileged knowledge and the implications for local-level participation in combined conservation and development initiatives in Argentina and Namibia. Subsequently, I have written a book, Conservation and Development (2016, with Shonil Bhagwat) which provides an overview of unhealthy interdependence between these two imperatives. On the latter my interests have ranged from agro-ecological knowledge co-production as adaptive capacity in North-Central Namibia, to analysing vulnerability to climate (and other) impacts amongst people living in protected areas in Mexico, to assessing the prospects for agricultural commercialisation pathways in sub-Saharan Africa in the face of climate change. 

Across my work, I have been interested in a number of recurring themes, including:

  • privileged or marginalised knowledge and the implications for the inclusivity, legitimacy and efficacy of interventions;
  • the underlying philosophical commitments of different approaches to understanding human-environmental relations;
  • the linked political and economic processes which give rise to environmental problems, poverty and inequality alike;
  • processes which drastically change both how (and where) people make a living, and levels of vulnerability and resilience in the face of climate impacts.

 I am currently involved in two research initiatives:

  1. Agricultural Policy Research Africa (APRA): This five-year research programme poses the following question: which pathways to agricultural commercialisation are the most effective in empowering women, reducing rural poverty and improving food and nutrition security in sub-Saharan Africa?  Funded by the Department for International Development, APRA aims to generate new evidence on pathways to agricultural commercialisation. APRA is coordinated by the Future Agricultures Consortium, led by the Institute of Development Studies University of Sussex and comprised of a number of UK universities (including SOAS) and research institutions in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. My role in the consortium is climate change crosscutting theme leader.
  2. Taking stock of ‘relational ontologies' in human-environmental scholarship: I will be running a British Academy-funded workshop, in June 2020, exploring the philosophical underpinnings of 'socio-nature'. This term, increasingly used across the social sciences, rejects the apriori separation of society and nature, and insists on ontological, not epistemic, primacy in seeking to explain human-environmental behaviour and socio-material phenomena. The workshop will bring into dialogue advocates and skeptics of this contemporary trajectory in social theory, via a methodology predicated on engagement and mutual learning. Rather than adjudicate between rival positions, the aim is to make space for diverse accounts and theoretical resources to understand fundamental human-environmental questions. In addition to the workshop, the output will be a special issue in a prestigious journal commonly drawn on by scholars interested in social theory and human-environmental relations, and which builds upon the mutual learning created through the workshop.

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Catherine Doe Adodoadji Climate Change and Vulnerable Coastal Communities in Ghana (working title)
Ian Quick How peacebuilding institutions develop and utilise climate-security futures


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