Political Change, Conflict and the Environment

Research on development requires a critical approach to the state and dominant institutions, focussing on how power is created and exercised, and the resistance of excluded groups. This essential political process involves conflict as much as cooperation, where security (and insecurity), historical identity, urban transformation and environmental sustainability are central issues.

Our research in this area is characterised by strong disciplinary roots in history, politics and anthropology; an interdisciplinary empirical research methodology; and primary fieldwork.

Work in this theme is mainly conducted by individual faculty members with their research students and post-doctoral fellows. Between 2003 and 2010 the DfID-funded Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity (CRISE) built on pioneering work in the department during the 1990s on the relationship between war and underdevelopment.

Woman waving a flag during demonstrations in Egypt

Photo: Sarah Smierciak, MPhil in Development Studies 2012-14

In the media
Changing Structures of Islamic Authority
Understanding radicalisation: informing Nigerian policy towards Boko Haram
A history of political imprisonment in Zimbabwe, 1959-2011
Explaining changes in Palestinian and Israeli opinions towards a peace settlement
Market power: traders, farmers, and the politics of class-making in Pakistani Punjab
Reasoning with rebels: how the private authority in rebel enclaves impacts the peace process
India's enterprise culture: social and political implications beyond the economy
New cultures of work in contemporary India
Structural constraints to public goods provision in Punjab


Aisha Ahmad
Research Student
Jocelyn Alexander
Professor of Commonwealth Studies
Masooda Bano
Professor of Development Studies
Lennart Bolliger
Research Student
Maxim Bolt
Associate Professor of Development Studies
Theodor Borrmann
Research Student
Lise Cazzoli
Research Student
Arnold Chamunogwa
Research Student
Simukai Chigudu
Associate Professor of African Politics


14 Jul, 2020
New book by Christopher Lilyblad on illicit social order
08 Jul, 2020
New article by Nikita Sud explores 'unfixity' of land in Indian SEZ
08 Jul, 2020
New article by Geoff Goodwin examines relationship between land markets and indigenous peoples in Ecuador
19 May, 2020
New article co-authored by DPhil Biruk Terrefe explores governance of transport infrastructure interfaces
01 May, 2020
Laura Rival and colleagues investigate impact of COVID-19 on indigenous peoples in Amazon
11 Mar, 2020
New article co-authored by Robtel Neajai Pailey explores voting behaviour in Liberia's 2017 election
08 Mar, 2020
Annette Idler book features in International Affairs Top Ten
18 Feb, 2020
New book by Prof Simukai Chigudu explores the political life of cholera in Zimbabwe
17 Feb, 2020
New book by Masooda Bano explores revival of Islamic rationalism
Four indigenous activists in front of a brick building in Oxford
12 Feb, 2020
Brazilian activists, intellectuals and policy actors visit Oxford to debate attacks on indigenous rights


23 Jun, 2020
'Megaprojects in Addis Ababa raise questions about spatial justice'. DPhil Biruk Terrefe writes for the Conversation
08 Jun, 2020
'Rethinking land for the 21st century'. Nikita Sud writes for Mongabay about the way in which land is intertwined with the human trajectory, and how powers of access to land come from social, political or other kinds of dominance.
04 Jun, 2020
'Fare City insight series: Addis Ababa'. In a podcast for the Fare City think tank, DPhil Biruk Terrefe discusses how Addis Ababa is responding to COVID-19
06 Apr, 2020
'The Murky Underbelly of Sanitation During the Pandemic'. DPhil Aparna Agarwal writes about the plight of Delhi’s already marginalised sanitation workers and rag-pickers, who have no option but to continue working during the coronavirus pandemic.
31 Mar, 2020
'How data-mining companies are set to gain from the Covid-19 pandemic'. Ivan Manokha writes for OpenDemocracy that such companies will be empowered and normalised, to the detriment of democracy
25 Mar, 2020
‘They have been left completely in limbo’. Nikita Sud interviewed by TRT World on the impact of India's coronavirus lockdown on the country's informal workers
17 Mar, 2020
'The Modi government is facing a crisis of credibility in the political as well as economic sphere'. Nikita Sud quoted by Bloomberg
01 Mar, 2020
'Push comes to shove, it is the demands of dominant groups that are given primacy in state policy and practice'. Nikita Sud comments for Reuters on conflicts over common land in India due to conservation and tree planting efforts
29 Jan, 2020
'He lacks the traditional skill set of a president but has the popular mandate to get himself a good team. Instead he has allowed himself to be advised incorrectly'. Robtel Neajai Pailey quoted by Al Jazeera on growing unpopularity of Liberia's George Weah
27 Jan, 2020
'Richard Caplan’s “Measuring peace: Principles, practices and politics”'. Jessie Barton Hronešová reviews the book for the Oxford University Politics Blog