Centre of African Studies

Dr Jon Phillips

Key information

Centre of African Studies Member
Centre of African Studies
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office 476, Main Building
Email address


I am a Lecturer in Sustainable Development in the Centre of Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP), Department of Development Studies.

I research relationships between environment and society, analysing how nature matters in the exercise and contestation of social power. I am interested in how inequalities are produced through environmental governance and development, particularly in the social and political organisation of low carbon economies. The empirical focus of my research has been on energy and climate politics in sub-Saharan Africa.

I previously worked as a Lecturer in Development Studies at the University of Cambridge, a Research Fellow in Geography at the University of Exeter, and a Research Associate in International Development at the University of the East Anglia. My doctoral studies were in Geography at King’s College London.

My published work is listed on Google Scholar and appears in journals such as Global Environmental Change, African Affairs, Geoforum, Review of African Political Economy, and Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space.

Research interests

I am broadly interested in how nature comes to matter in the exercise and contestation of
social power, including how inequalities are produced through the management of
environmental change and opportunities for alternative social and environmental relations. I
am particularly interested in how and why the inequalities of high carbon economies may be
reproduced or reduced in low carbon economies. My past and current research has
analysed the politics of oil production in Ghana, electricity generation in Kenya, carbon
markets in India, urban infrastructure in South Africa, and charcoal in Uganda. This research
has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), British Academy,
Newton Fund, and Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN). For a list of
published work see my Google Scholar page.

I welcome prospective PhD proposals that are conceptually grounded in a broadly defined political ecology or associated field in geography or development studies, and that explore aspects of social and environmental change associated with energy, resource development, infrastructure, conservation or climate change mitigation, again broadly defined.