SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Professor Johan P J Pottier

BA DPHIL (Sussex)
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Johan Pottier
Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Emeritus Professor

Professor Johan P J Pottier
Email address:
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings


Now enjoying retirement, I keenly continue my interests in the social dynamics of food security, including urban security; media representations of conflict; and the politics of humanitarian intervention. In recent years I have also researched the emergence of a commercial Bangladeshi cuisine in East London. Key publications include Anthropology of Food: The Social Dynamics of Food Security (Cambridge, Polity Press, 1999); Re-Imagining Rwanda: Conflict, Survival and Disinformation in the late 20th Century (Cambridge University Press, 2002); and the co-edited Researching Violence in Africa: Ethical and Methodological Challenges (Brill, 2011). I am expanding my interest in urban food security, based on fieldwork in low-income settlements in Lilongwe (2011) and Kampala (2012), beyond African borders.



Over the years, my research has focused on the social dynamics of food and livelihood security; humanitarian intervention during conflict, including media representations of conflict and intervention; and post-conflict development. Much of this research has been undertaken in Central Africa, the Great Lakes Region (Rwanda, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo) in particular. I have published on local-level perceptions of food security; anthropology and food policy; post-drought and post-famine recovery; international press coverage of the crisis in Rwanda; refugee perceptions of humanitarian aid; and aspects of the local-global development interface. 

My current research deals with the crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), notably the Ituri region. Recent research in Bunia, capital of Ituri, has focused on how humanitarian organisations attempt to negotiate access in the course of a complex emergency. I also have an interest in social development analysis and experience with running participatory workshops. This interest grew out of a collaborative research programme on social development and food security, carried out in the mid-1990s with academic colleagues and development practitioners in Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Botswana. This collaboration consolidated my interest in the Anthropology of Food and led me to write a book on the subject detailing ethnographic contributions to the study of food and food policy. 

Closely related to this is my interest in the role of ‘local knowledge’ in development and in the mechanisms through which local knowledge is generated for development intervention. I co-convened the ASA 2000 conference entitled Indigenous Knowledge and Development.


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Country Expertise
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Authored Books

Pottier, Johan (2002) Re-Imagining Rwanda. Conflict, Survival and Disinformation in the Late Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Pottier, Johan (1999) Anthropology of Food: The Social Dynamics of Food Security. Malden, MA: Polity Press.


Pottier, Johan (2008) 'Displacement and ethnic reintegration in Ituri, DR Congo: challenges ahread'. Journal of Modern African Studies, (46) 3, pp 1-24.

Pottier, Johan (2008) 'Discorso globale e contesti locali. Quale futuro per il programma di riforma agraria in Ruanda? [Global Discourse, Local Contexts: Which way for Rwanda’s land reform programme?]'. Antropologia (Special volume on Violence), (8) 9-10, pp 137-155.

Pottier, Johan (2007) 'Rights Violations, Rumour, and Rhetoric: Making Sense of Cannibalism in Mambasa, Ituri (Democratic Republic of Congo)'. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, (13) 4, pp 825-843.

Pottier, Johan (2006) 'Land Reform for Peace? Rwanda's 2005 Land Law in Context'. Journal of Agrarian Change, (6) 4, pp 509-537.

Pottier, Johan (2006) 'Roadblock Ethnography: Negotiating Humanitarian Access in Ituri, Eastern DR Congo, 1999-2004'. Africa The Journal of the International African Institute, (76) 2, pp 151-79.

Pottier, Johan (2002) 'Everybody needs good neighbours: understanding the conflict(s) in Eastern DRC'. Cadernos de Estudos Africanos (Lisbon), (vol. 2), pp 141-166.

Pottier, Johan (1996) 'Relief and Repatriation: Views by Rwandan refugees; lessons for humanitarian aid workers'. African Affairs, (95) 380, pp 403-429.

Edited Books or Journals

Cramer, Christopher and Hammond, Laura and Pottier, Johan, (eds.), (2011) Researching Violence in Africa: Ethical and Methodological Challenges. Leiden: Brill. (Africa-Europe Group for Interdisciplinary Studies).

Book Chapters

Klein, Jakob A. and Pottier, Johan and West, Harry G. (2012) 'New Directions in the Anthropology of Food'. In: Fardon, Richard and Harris, Olivia and Marchand, Trevor H.J. and Nuttall, Mark and Shore, Cris and Strang, Veronica and Wilson, Richard A., (eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Social Anthropology. London: SAGE Publications Ltd, pp 293-302.

Pottier, Johan (2004) 'Escape from Genocide: The politics of identity in Rwanda's 1994 massacres'. In: Broch-Due, Vigdis, (ed.), Violence and Belonging: The Quest for Identity in Post-colonial Africa. London: Routledge, pp 195-205.

Pottier, Johan (2003) 'Modern Information Warfare Versus Empirical Knowledge: Framing 'the Crisis' in Eastern Zaire, 1996'. In: Pottier, Johan and Bicker, Alan and Sillitoe, Paul, (eds.), Negotiating Local Knowledge. Power and Identity in Development.. London: Pluto Press, pp 215-240.

Pottier, Johan (2003) 'Negotiating Local Knowledge: An Introduction'. In: Pottier, Johan and Sillitoe, Paul and Bicker, Alan, (eds.), Negotiating Local Knowledge: Identity and Power in Development. London: Pluto, pp 1-29.

Pottier, Johan (2000) 'Gerra dell informazione e violenza nella regione dei grandi laghi'. In: Buttino, M. and Ercolessi, Maria Cristina and Triulzi, A., (eds.), Uomini in Armi: Costruzioni etniche e violenza politica. Napoli: L'ancora del Mediterraneo, pp 157-187.

Pottier, Johan (2000) 'Reporting the New Rwanda: The rise and cost of political correctness, with reference to Kibeho'. In: Doom, Ruddy and Gorus, Jan, (eds.), Politics of Identity and Economics of Conflict in the Great Lakes Region. Brussels: VUB University Press, pp 121-148.

Pottier, Johan (1998) 'The Self in Self-Repatriation: Closing down Mugunga Camp Eastern Zaire'. In: Black, Richard and Koser, Khalid, (eds.), The End of the Refugee Cycle? Refugee Repatriation and Reconstruction. Oxford: Berghahn Books, pp 142-170.

Pottier, Johan (1997) 'Towards an Ethnography of Participatory Appraisal'. In: Grillo, R. D. and Stirrat, R. L., (eds.), Discourses of Development: Anthropological Perspectives. Oxford: Berg, pp 203-227.


This list was last generated on Friday, 12th August 2022, 15:17 Europe/London.