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May + June

Welcome to the May + June 2021 research newsletter from the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. We hope you are all well and keeping safe.

The London School of Economics and Political Science, including the Department of International Development, has moved online. Please continue to engage as we really appreciate your support during these unprecedented times. 

This bi-monthly newsletter gives subscribers the usual run-down of news and updates from research programmes in the Department. It also includes sub-sections for recent articles, blogs and publications. 

Please send any comments to


Welcoming Mark Lowcock and Kate Gilmore to ID

We are excited to announce that the Department will have two new Visiting Professors in Practice in September, both from high level UN positions: Sir Mark Lowcock (UNOCHA) and Kate Gilmore (OHCHR).

Mark will be sharing his experience and knowledge from his previous appointments as the former Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator and Permanent Secretary, DFID. Kate will share her experience from her time as Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations.

They will join Duncan Green who is also a Professor in Practice in the Department and brings his experience as Senior Strategic Adviser at Oxfam GB. We look forward to collaborating with them over the coming years!

Ernestina Coast receives Changing Policy & Practice Award 2021

Congratulations to ID's Professor Ernestina Coast who has been recognised in the Medical Research Foundation's Changing Policy and Practice Awards 2021. Professor Coast received an award for a project on enhancing access to contraceptive and abortion services in Ethiopia, Malawi and Zambia.

With the award, Professor Coast will be able to launch a multi-country social media campaign using specially designed animations for adolescents created through a collaboration between IPAS, PositiveNegatives and LSE. These animations share research results of the MRC/FCDO-funded research project and provide tailored information on abortion-related care. The researchers will also design a virtual short course that targets healthcare workers and students, engaging NGO and Ministry of Health officials in its rollout.

Tim Forsyth appointed specialist adviser to the IDC for COP26 conference

Professor Tim Forsyth, Professor of Environment and Development in the Department of International Development, has been appointed as a specialist adviser to the House Of Commons International Development Committee (IDC) for its work to prepare for the COP26 climate change conference in the UK later this year. You can find out more about the work of the IDC here.

Professor Ken Shadlen on Restructuring Sovereign Debt

Professor Ken Shadlen spoke to Reece Sisto, from Phenomenal World on Restructuring Sovereign Debt for an interview about the evolution of bilateral trade in Latin America. The interview explores how decision making operations of multilateral institutions like the IMF, World Bank, and WTO systematically disadvantage countries in the Global South, especially in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, pushing dozens of countries to the brink of default. 

Robert Wade on the likelihood of a coming financial crash

In this long read blog post, Professor of Political Economy and Development in the Department of International Development Robert Wade analyses past crises and trends to consider the probability of a big financial crash and recession in the US and across western financial markets before the end of 2024? 

Reflections from teaching African Development using decolonial perspectives at LSE

For Africa Day, LSE Fellow in the Department of International Development and Course Convenor for the African Development (DV418) course, Dr Eyob Balcha Gebremariam wrote a short reflection on teaching using decolonial perspectives. Eyob is also the winner of the LSE SU Inspirational Teacher Award, 2021.

Launch of the LSE Institute for Africa

The Firoz Lalji Centre has relaunched as the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa (FLIA) – an exciting new phase which will strengthen LSE’s long-term commitment to placing Africa at the heart of debates on global issues. Read more about the Institute and its current programmes.

"Becoming an Institute is a recognition of our tremendous achievements over the past five years. Our research, student engagement, outreach on the African continent and events have been rapidly growing to build a dynamic and strong Africa-focussed community at LSE and Globally." – Professor Tim Allen, FLIA Director

Workshop on Clientelism 

On Monday 28 and Tuesday 29 June, Dr Mahvish Shami hosted a workshop on Clientelism. The workshop explored the effects of clientelism in developing countries. There were eight papers discussed over the two days. The workshop was held over Zoom. However, the hope is that there will be a follow-up workshop in January, which will be in person – if the pandemic permits it. Attendees included: Prof. Pranab Bardhan, UC Berkeley; Prof. Maitreesh Ghatak, LSE; Dr. Alison Post, UC Berkeley; Dr Adam Auerbach, American University; Dr Philip Keefer, Inter-American Development Bank; Dr Elliott Green, LSE; Dr Shan Aman-Rana, University of Virginia; Dr Miquel Pillicer, Maynooth University; Dr Eva Wegner, University of Marburg; Dr Hadia Majid, Lahore University of Management Sciences; Dr Emily Rains, Duke University/Louisiana State University; Dr Rabia Malik, University of Essex; Dr Adnan Khan, LSE; and Dr Geoff Goodwin, LSE.

Tim Allen appointed PI for EU Covid-19 impact project PERISCOPE

Prof. Tim Allen, Professor in Development Anthropology in ID, has been appointed as principal investigator for an EU Horizon 2020 project, the Pan-European response to the impacts of COVID-19 and future pandemics and epidemics (PERISCOPE). PERISCOPE aims to broadly study the social, economic and behavioural impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and with the aim of making Europe more resilient and better prepared for future epidemic risks.

The project involves LSE researchers across Anthropology, Health Policy, Economics and the Behavioural Lab and Recent PhD candidate in ID Liz Storer is working alongside Professor Allen as a Research Officer.

Our new Research section on the LSE ID website

We are excited to launch a new section of the Department of International Development website highlighting the research carried out by our academic faculty. These new pages give a sense of the breadth and depth of research projects and publications in a department that is "the nerve centre of intellectual cross-fertilization on developing regions, societies, and dynamic processes of development [...] analysing the problems, structures, and opportunities that affect most of the world’s countries and people, and to understanding why some societies progress while others decompose."


Podcast highlights from the Department:

Refugee Realities podcast series 

To help celebrate and bring awareness to Refugee Week UK 2021, the Department of International Development and LSE Higher Education blog launched Refugee RealitiesThis extraordinary podcast series was created by students on ID's DV462 course on Forced Displacement and Refugees with the support of course teacher Ian Madison along with Lee-Ann Sequeira from the Eden Centre and LSE HE Blog. Episodes were based around different themes, including education, refugee voices and experience, and issues in governance and policy on refugees and migration. The podcasts capture some of the initiatives out there that are working to assist forcibly displaced people, whether by refugees in neighbouring countries, local organisations right here in London, or international NGOs that are always looking for volunteers.

Listen to the podcasts on SpotifySoundCloud and other major streaming services, and you can also check out blog posts from a special Refugee Realities series on the HE Blog here.

Kathy Hochstetler on the Politics of Climate Change 

Kathy Hochstetler talks to Shamel Azmeh from the Conversations podcast (University of Manchester) about the politics of climate change, global environmental negotiations, the impact of the COVID-19 on climate change action, and her new book on energy transition in South Africa and Brazil. Listen to the episode here.

Jonathan Weigel on “Can Taxes Improve Politics?”

Dr. Jonathan Weigel speaks to the Political Economy Forum (University of Washington) to discuss his work on taxation and state capacity with Forum Affiliate Morgan Wack. Throughout the episode Jonathan discusses his work aimed at improving the efficacy of tax collection efforts alongside officials in the DRC. He details the “participation dividend” that can accrue through expanded collection efforts as well as the potential benefits of utilizing local elites to target the households that are both most willing and most able to pay their property taxes. They also discuss the role of digitization and new technologies in transforming how taxes are levied and collected in low capacity states. 

Past events

In light of coronavirus, all department events have moved online. For updates, please check our events page. You can also check out our recordings from past events.

The humanitarian crisis in Tigray, Ethiopia

On Thursday 17 June the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa and the Department of International Development hosted a panel discussion on the humanitarian crisis in Tigray, Ethiopia,  with speakers Professor Alex de Waal, Temrat Gebregiorgis, Tamerat Negera, Tsedale Lemma,  and Chair: Professor Christine Chinkin.

You can watch the lecture back on YouTube here.


Wars have laws

On Wednesday 16 June the Department of International Development hosted a guest lecture with United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (at the time of recording), Sir Mark Lowcock. The lecture was chaired by Dr Stuart Gordon. 

You can watch the lecture back on YouTube here.


Technologies and contemporary social movement dynamics in Africa

On Friday 11 June MSc student in IDHE Boluwatife Ajibola, with the support of the Department of International Development, hosted a panel discussion on Technologies and contemporary social movement dynamics in Africa. The discussion featured Samson Itodo, Dele Farotimi and Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi, and was chaired by Professor Alcinda Honwana, Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa, LSE.

You can watch the lecture back on YouTube here.


The Geopolitics of Health in the Middle East

On Monday 10 May the Global Health Institute hosted a panel on Geopolitics of Health in the Middle East. The discussion featured speakers Dr Ghassan Abu-Sittah, Dr Omar Dewachi and Dr Weeam S Hammoudeh and was chaired by Dr Tiziana Leone. 

You can watch the lecture back on YouTube here.


Highlights from the International Development at LSE Blog and other LSE Blogs. 

What community volunteering can teach you about development
In this open letter, International Development Guest Lecturer, Dr Stephanie Levy encourages current students to explore opportunities available around them where they can put theories they have learnt over the last year into practice, and gives her own experience volunteering for a homeless charity as an example. 

Edmilson Rodrigues’ PSOL government in Belém could help lead the left out of the labyrinth of Brazilian politics
Last November, Edmilson Rodrigues of the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL) defeated a Bolsonaro ally to become mayor of Belém, in the Brazilian Amazon. The Belém experiment could be a chance to push back against a destructive far-right government that has grossly mismanaged the pandemic, writes LSE ID PhD Candidate Claudia Horn.

Shared prosperity: the key to alleviate socioeconomic disparities in Malaysia?
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly highlighted, and worsened, the extent of socioeconomic vulnerabilities and disparities in communities worldwide. MSc Development Studies alum, Imran Hakim Mohamedsha, discusses the degree of socioeconomic imbalances in Malaysia within the context of the pandemic and explores how the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, an economic blueprint launched in 2019, can help address such deep-seated inequalities in the country.

The brain drain blame game
MSc Development Studies alum Alejandra Padin-Dujon shares a personal reflection on the complexities of ‘brain drain’. This article first appeared in Ale in Antigua.

Net-zero targets for South Asia?
The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently released a report charting out plans for a carbon-neutral (net zero) world by 2050. LSE ID Alum, Michelle Nazareth looks at what this means for South Asia, where countries are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the worst effects of climate change.

Racial state violence in Colombia
LSE ID PhD candidate Chiara Chiavaroli, and Colombian Sociologist Iván Mauricio Aristizabal analyse the participation of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian people in protests demanding the overturning of the Tributary Reform, and look at the lack of attention that their mobilisations are receiving in the international press, and the socio-political context from which the protest emerges.

Water crisis as big business
In this article, Guest Teacher in International Development Geoff Goodwin looks at how the World Economic Forums’s narrative on the water crisis falls short of the reality, and questions whether big business is really the answer to the global challenge. 

Brazilian Supreme Court abolishes patent term extension
The Brazilian Supreme Court has ruled that the mechanism of patent term extension is unconstitutional, citing a paper co-written by PhD student in the Department of International Development, Eduardo Mercadante.


Highlights from the latest publications and working papers from the Department. You can view the full list here


Two decades of theorising and measuring women's empowerment: Literature review and future research agenda

Naila Kabeer
Women's Studies International Forum (2021)

The analysis identifies the most influential journals, authors, and centres of excellence that have shaped women's empowerment research and unearths the sub-topics related to women's empowerment, which have been in vogue in recent times. The topics trending currently include interrelationships between gender equity and empowerment, measurement of women's empowerment, dimensions, and consequences of women's empowerment. These themes present fresh opportunities for aspiring researchers to align their work in this field. Our analysis makes a significant contribution for researchers interested in women's empowerment by providing a historical perspective, tracing the reason for the spurt in research output, establishing linkages between the articles, and identifying the emerging areas within the broad theme of women's empowerment.


The politics of COVID-19 vaccination in middle-income countries: Lessons from Brazil

Ken Shadlen
Social Science and Medicine (2021)

As the world struggles to meet the challenges of vaccination against COVID-19, more attention needs to be paid to issues faced by countries at different income levels. Middle-income countries (MICs) typically lack the resources and regulatory capacities to pursue strategies that wealthier countries do, but they also face different sets of challenges and opportunities than low-income countries (LICs). We focus on three dimensions of vaccination: procurement and production; regulation of marketing registration; and distribution and uptake. For each dimension we show the distinct challenges and opportunities faced by MICs. 


From targeted private benefits to public goods: Land, distributive politics and changing political conditions in Colombia

Allison Benson
World Development (2021)

This paper analyzes how changes in political conditions affect distributive politics. We study the case of Colombia, focusing on the strategic allocation of land in relation to the electoral cycle. Relying on over 55.000 municipality-year observations on land allocations, exogenous timing of elections and sociodemographic controls, we show that there is a political land cycle (PLC), and that this cycle is dependent on the local political conditions in place. 

Working Paper:

When social safety nets protect economic growth: the case of Cambodia

Stephanie Levy
LSE International Development Working Paper (2021)

This paper analyses the policy changes in Cambodia induced by the pandemic and presents empirical evidence that their economic effects are likely to be large. It then discusses the shift in political paradigm that this could lead to. 


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