SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Catherine Dolan

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  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Expertise
  • Publications


Catherine Dolan
Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Reader in Anthropology

Dr Catherine Dolan
Email address:
020 7898 4425
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
On Sabbatical:
First half of Term 1


Programmes Convened
Courses Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Celia Plender, ‘Self-help by the people!’: Politics, morality and change in British food co-ops (working title)
  • Imran Jamal, Developing Moralities: An ethnographic study of elite development workers working in development in Bangladesh.
  • Yun Miao, Being Tibetan in Shangri-La: Tibetans' interactions with development projects in Southwest China


I am interested in the cultural and political economy of markets and development. Over the years I have researched and taught in a number of areas including gender and labour, alternative food production and consumption, and the socio-cultural dimensions of global commodity chains, with a focus on East and Southern Africa.

My current research centers on the corporation as an agent of development and how business engages development concerns, from malaria and HIV to women’s empowerment and poverty reduction, under the aegis of ‘responsible capitalism’. Through ethnographic study of base-of-the-pyramid (BoP) schemes, Fairtrade, inclusive markets initiatives, and CSR programmes, I explore the practices through which corporate actors mobilise social networks, informal economic activity, physical infrastructures, and material goods to create new markets among the ‘bottom billion,’ and how the meaning, policies, and ethos of development are shifting through this encounter with the corporate form.

This research focuses on three main themes:

• How corporations shape the “bottom billion” as an object of development, particularly how management technologies and knowledge practices are employed to “activate” a development problem and delimit its boundaries, and how the expertise and infrastructure of NGOs, research institutions, and science are recruited to make the problem of poverty amenable to business intervention.
• The types of subjectivities produced through corporate economies of development, for example how global corporations outsource distribution to ‘poor’ micro-entrepreneurs, crafting market subjectivities that confound conventional distinctions between donor and recipient and economic and affective practices.  
• The processes through which everyday consumer goods are recoded as ‘ethical’, specifically the socio-technical practices corporations use to cultivate new aspirations, desires, and consumption habits among the poor and to transform mundane commodities such as soap, shampoo and sanitary pads into humanitarian objects.

I am co-founder of the Centre for New Economies of Development — a network of anthropologists that seeks to establish critical frameworks for research on market-based development and the Oxford University Food Governance Group, which researches the politics and practices of food governance. In addition to academic research I have a served as consultant and advisor to several policy-oriented bodies including the World Bank, DFID, USAID, UNIFEM, ILO, UNCTAD, and UNICEF.

Prior to joining SOAS, I was a faculty member in the Markets, Culture and Society Programme at the Said Business School, University of Oxford; the Department of Anthropology at Northeastern University (USA); and the School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia.


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Available for
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Press
  • Briefings
  • Special Study Programmes
  • Short Term Consultancy
  • Long Term Consultancy
Regional Expertise
  • Africa
Country Expertise
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda


Edited Books or Journal Volumes

Dolan, Catherine and Garsten, Christina and Rajak, Dinah, eds. (2011) Introduction: Reigning Responsibilities: Ethnographies of Corporate Ethicizing. Focaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology: Berghahn. (Vol. 60 Summer)

Dolan, Catherine and Barrientos, Stephanie, eds. (2006) Ethical Sourcing in the Global Food System. Abingdon: Earthscan.

Dolan , Catherine and Rajak, Dinah, eds. The Anthropology of Corporate Social Responsibility. NY: Berghahn.

Book Chapters

Dolan, Catherine and Rajak, Dinah (2016) 'Introduction: Towards an Anthropology of Corporate Social Responsibility.' In: Dolan, Catherine and Rajak, Dinah, (eds.), The Anthropology of Corporate Social Responsibility. New York: Berghahn.

Berlan, Amanda and Dolan, Catherine (2014) 'Of Red Herrings and Immutabilities: Rethinking Fair Trade’s Ethic of Relationality among Cocoa Producers.' In: Goodman, Michael and Sage, Colin, (eds.), Food Transgressions: Making Sense of Contemporary Food Politics. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, pp. 39-60.

Dolan, Catherine (2013) 'Economies of Expectation: Men, Marriage and Miracles in Kenya's Religious Marketplace.' In: Rinallo, Diego and Scott, Linda and Maclaran, Pauline, (eds.), Consumption and Spirituality. London: Routledge.

Dolan, Catherine (2011) 'Branding Morality.' In: Warrier, Meera, (ed.), The Politics of Fairtrade. London: Routledge, pp. 37-52.

Dolan, Catherine (2010) 'Fractured Ties: The Business of Development in Kenyan Fairtrade Tea.' In: Lyon, Sarah and Moberg, Mark, (eds.), Fair Trade and Social Justice: Global Ethnographies. New York: NYU Press, pp. 147-175.

Dolan, Catherine (2009) 'Virtue at the Checkout Till: Salvation Economics in Kenyan Flower Fields.' In: Browne, Katherine and Milgram, B. Lynne, (eds.), Economics and Morality: Anthropological Approaches. Lanham, Maryland: Altamira Press, pp. 167-185. (Society for Economic Anthropology monographs, v. 26.)

Dolan, Catherine (2008) 'In the Mists of Development: Fairtrade in Kenyan Tea Fields.' In: Curran, Sara R and Linton, April and Cooke, Abigail and Schrank, Andrew, (eds.), The Global Governance of Food. London: Routledge, pp. 195-208.

Opondo, Maggie and Dolan, Catherine and Kathuri, James and Wendoh, Senorina (2007) 'Gender and Employment.' In: Kindon, Sara and Pain, Rachel and Kesby, Mike, (eds.), Participatory Action Research Approaches and Methods: Connecting People, Participation and Place. London: Routledge, pp. 80-87.

Tallontire, Anne and Dolan, Catherine and Barrientos, Stephanie and Smith, Sally (2006) 'Reaching the Marginalised? Gender, Value Chains and Ethical Trade in African Horticulture.' In: Eade, Deborah and Sayer, John, (eds.), Development and the Private Sector: Consuming Interests. Bloomfield, Connecticut: Kumarian Press, pp. 247-264.

Barrientos, Stephanie and Dolan, Catherine (2006) 'Transformation of Global Food System: Opportunities and Challenges for Fair and Ethical Trade.' In: Barrientos, Stephanie and Dolan, Catherine, (eds.), Ethical Sourcing in the Global Food System. London: Earthscan, pp. 1-33.

Barrientos, Stephanie and Dolan, Catherine (2006) 'Concluding Reflections on the Future of Ethical Sourcing.' In: Barrientos, Stephanie and Dolan, Catherine, (eds.), Ethical Sourcing in the Global Food System. London: Earthscan, pp. 179-185.

Smith, Sally and Dolan, Catherine (2006) 'Ethical Trade: What Does it Mean for Women Workers in African Horticulture?' In: Barrientos, Stephanie and Dolan, Catherine, (eds.), Ethical Sourcing in the Global Food System. London: Earthscan, pp. 79-95.

Dolan, Catherine (2005) 'Household Composition and Livelihood Diversification in Uganda.' In: Ellis, Frank and Freeman, H. Ade, (eds.), Rural Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction Policies. London: Routledge, pp. 75-89.

Little, Peter and Dolan, Catherine (2005) '‘Nontraditional Commodities and Structural Adjustment in Africa'.' In: Edelman, Marc and Haugerud, Angelique, (eds.), The anthropology of development and globalization : from classical political economy to contemporary neoliberalism. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers, pp. 206-215.

Dolan, Catherine (2002) 'The Meru.' In: Ember, Carol R and Ember, Melvin and Skoggard, Ian, (eds.), Encyclopedia of World Cultures. USA: Macmillan Press, pp. 212-215.

Little, Peter D. and Dolan, Catherine (2000) 'What it Means to be Restructured: ‘Non-traditional’ Commodities and Structural Adjustment in sub-Saharan Africa.' In: Haugerud, Angelique and Stone, Priscilla M. and Little, Peter D., (eds.), Commodities and Globalization: Anthropological Perspectives. Boulder, Colorado: Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 59-78.

Journal Articles

Montgomery, Paul and Hennegan , Julie and Dolan, Catherine and Wu, Maryalice and Steinfeld, Laurel and Scott, Linda (2016) 'Menstruation and the cycle of poverty: a cluster quasi-randomised control trial of sanitary pad and puberty education provision in Uganda.' PLoS ONE. (Forthcoming)

Eli, Karin and Dolan, Catherine and Schneider, Tanja and Ulijaszek, Stanley (2016) 'Mobile Activism, Material Imaginings, and the Ethics of the Edible: Framing Political Engagement through the Buycott App.' Geoforum, 74. pp. 63-73.

Dolan, Catherine and Rajak, Dinah (2016) 'Remaking Africa's Informal Economies: Youth, Entrepreneurship and the Promise of Inclusion at the Bottom of the Pyramid.' Journal of Development Studies, 52 (4). pp. 514-529.

Blowfield, Mick and Dolan, Catherine (2014) 'Business as a development agent: Evidence of possibility and improbability.' Third World Quarterly, 35 (1). pp. 22-42.

Dolan, Catherine (2013) 'Capital’s New Frontier: From 'Unusable' Economies to Bottom of the Pyramid Markets in Africa.' African Studies Review, 56 (3). pp. 123-146.

Ingram, John and Wright, Hugh and Foster, Lucy and Dolan, Catherine and et, al (2013) 'Priority Research Questions for the UK Food System.' Food Security, 5 (5). pp. 617-636.

Dolan, Catherine and Ryus, Caitlin and Dopson, Sue and Montgomery, Paul and Scott, Linda (2013) 'A Blind Spot in Girls’ Education: Menarche and its Webs of Exclusion.' Journal of International Development, 26 (5). pp. 643-657.

Montgomery, Paul and Ryus, Caitlin and Dolan, Catherine and Dopson, Sue and Scott, Linda (2012) 'Sanitary Pad Interventions for Girls' Education in Ghana: A Pilot Study.' PLOS One, 7 (10). pp. 1-7.

Dolan, Catherine (2012) 'The New Face of Development: The Bottom of the Pyramid Entrepreneurs.' Anthropology Today, 28 (4). pp. 3-7.

Scott, Linda and Dolan, Catherine and Johnstone-Louis, Mary and Sugden, Kim and Wu, Maryalice (2012) 'Enterprise and Inequality: A Study of Avon in South Africa.' Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 36 (3). pp. 543-568.

Dolan, Catherine and Johnstone-Louis, Mary and Scott, Linda (2012) 'Shampoo, Saris and Sim Cards: Seeking Entrepreneurial Futures at the Bottom-of the-Pyramid.' Gender and Development, 20 (1). pp. 33-47.

Dolan, Catherine and Rajak, Dinah (2011) 'Introduction: Ethnographies of Corporate Ethicizing.' Focaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, 60 (Summer). pp. 3-8.

Dolan, Catherine and Johnstone-Louis, Mary (2011) 'Re-siting Corporate Responsibility: The Making of South Africa’s Avon Entrepreneurs.' Focaal: European Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, 60 (Summer). pp. 21-33.

Blowfield, Mick and Dolan, Catherine (2010) 'Fairtrade Facts and Fancies: What Kenyan Fairtrade Tea Tells Us about Business’ Role as Development Agent.' Journal of Business Ethics , 93 (2). pp. 143-162.

Blowfield, Micheal and Dolan, Catherine (2010) 'Outsourcing Governance: Fairtrade’s Message for C21 Global Governance.' Corporate Governance: The International Journal of Business in Society , 10 (4). pp. 484-499.

Dolan, Catherine (2010) 'Virtual Moralities: The Mainstreaming of Fairtrade in Kenyan Tea Fields.' Geoforum, 41 (1). pp. 33-43.

Dolan, Catherine and Scott, Linda (2009) 'Lipstick Evangelism: Avon Trading Circles and Gender Empowerment in South Africa.' Gender and Development, 17 (2). pp. 203-218.

Dolan, Catherine and Johnstone, Mary (2009) 'Bargaining with God: Religion, Advertising and Commercial Success in Kenya.' Advertising and Society Review, 10 (4).

Dolan, Catherine (2008) 'The Mists of Development: Fairtrade in Kenyan Tea Fields.' Globalizations, 5 (2). pp. 305-318.

Blowfield, Mick and Dolan, Catherine (2008) 'Stewards of Virtue? The Ethical Dilemma of CSR in African Agriculture.' Development and Change , 39 (1). pp. 1-23.

Dolan, Catherine (2008) 'Arbitrating Risk through Moral Values: The Case of Kenyan Fair Trade’, in Hidden Hands in the Market: Ethnographies of Fair Trade, Ethical Consumption, and Corporate Social Responsibility.' Research in Economic Anthropology, 28. pp. 271-296.

Dolan, Catherine (2007) 'Market Affections: Moral Encounters with Kenyan Fairtrade Flowers.' Ethnos, 72 (2). pp. 239-261.

Dolan, Catherine (2005) 'Benevolent Intent: The Development Encounter in Kenya’s Horticulture Industry.' Journal of Asian and African Studies, 40 (6). pp. 411-437.

Tallontire, Anne and Dolan, Catherine and Barrientos, Stephanie and Smith, Sally (2005) 'Reaching the Marginalised? Gender, Value Chains and Ethical Trade in African Horticulture.' Development in Practice, 15 (3&4). pp. 559-571.

Dolan, Catherine (2005) 'Fields of Obligation: Rooting Ethical Consumption in Kenyan Horticulture.' Journal of Consumer Culture , 5 (3). pp. 365-389.

Dolan, Catherine and Opondo, Maggie (2005) 'Seeking Common Ground: Multistakeholder Initiatives in Kenya’s Cut Flower Industry.' Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 18 (Summer). pp. 87-98.

Dolan, Catherine (2004) 'On Farm and Packhouse: Employment at the Bottom of a Global Commodity Chain.' Rural Sociology, 69 (1). pp. 99-126.

Dolan, Catherine (2004) '‘I Sell My Labor Now’: Gender and Livelihood Diversification in Uganda.' Canadian Journal of Development Studies, 25 (4). pp. 665-683.

Dolan, Catherine and Humphrey, John (2004) 'Changing Governance Patterns in the Trade in Fresh Vegetables between Africa and the United Kingdom.' Environment and Planning A, 36 (3). pp. 491-509.

Barrientos, Stephanie and Dolan, Catherine and Tallontire, Anne (2003) 'A Gendered Value Chain Approach to Codes of Conduct in African Horticulture.' World Development, 31 (9). pp. 1511-1526.

Dolan, Catherine (2002) 'Gender and Witchcraft in Agrarian Transition: The Case of Kenyan Horticulture.' Development and Change, 33 (4). pp. 659-681.

Dolan, Catherine (2001) 'The 'Good Wife': Struggles over Land and Labour in the Kenyan Horticultural Sector.' Journal of Development Studies, 37 (3). pp. 39-70.

Dolan, Catherine and Tewari, Meenu (2001) 'From What We Wear to What We Eat: Upgrading in Global Value Chains.' IDS Bulletin, 32 (3). pp. 94-104.

Dolan, Catherine and Humphrey, John (2000) 'Governance and Trade in Fresh Vegetables: The Impact of UK Supermarkets on the African Horticulture Industry.' Journal of Development Studies, 37 (2). pp. 147-176.

Dolan, Catherine (1999) 'Conflict and Compliance: Christianity and the Occult in Horticultural Exporting.' Gender and Development, 7 (1). pp. 23-30.

Working Papers / Reports

Scott, Linda and Steinfield, Laurel and Dolan, Catherine and Dopson, Sue (2013) Sanitary Pad: Acceptability and Sustainability Study. Oxford: University of Oxford.

This list was generated on Sat Dec 10 00:32:05 2016 GMT.