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July + August

Welcome to the July + August 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.

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


The Global Health Initiative Peer Review Reading Group

The Global Health Initiative Peer Review Reading Group has been set up to support academics at LSE working on global health related research across a range of disciplines and departments. The group enables members to circulate and discuss draft research papers amongst colleagues so that they can provide comments prior to submission for publication.

The group meets regularly to discuss papers – on average 2-3 times a term. Sessions typically take place during the week for one hour, unless otherwise specified. Open to all LSE staff and PhD students, the group runs on an opt-in basis. If you are interested in joining or if you have a paper which you would like to be reviewed, please contact

David Lewis on music and inequality

Professor David Lewis spoke to LSE Research about his recent paper on the power of music in social change. “Music is so pervasive. It’s all around us and that makes it an important characteristic of all societies and social groups,” explains Professor David Lewis

You can read the full article here, as well as listen to a playlist, compiled by Professor Lewis, that features songs that highlight the interface between development and music 

Catherine Boone elected Fellow at The British Academy

Professor Catherine Boone has been elected a Fellow at The British Academy in recognition for her contribution to the social sciences. Professor Boone's work focuses on comparative political economy with an emphasis on African and other late-developing countries; property rights institutions and land politics; political effects of uneven economic geography and spatial inequality. 

Professor Ken Shadlen has chapter of book translated into Portuguese and Spanish

With funding from the ID Research Committee, Professor Ken Shadlen hired translators in Brazil and Mexico to translate a chapter he had published (in an edited volume) on the political economy of patents in Latin America into Portuguese and Spanish. He did this so they could be used more easily for teaching, and also to contribute to establishing a norm that academics make their work available in local languages. Here are links to the Portuguese and Spanish versions.

In July, Professor Shadlen also delivered a presentation on vaccine production in Latin America, as part of a plenary event on COVID-19 at the annual meeting of REPAL (Latin American Political Economy Network). Here is a table that summarises the state of LatAm vaccine production as of mid-July 2021.

Joana Naritomi elected BREAD Affiliate

Dr Joana Naritomi has been elected as a BREAD Affiliate by BREAD Fellows. BREAD is a non-profit organization, founded in 2002, dedicated to encouraging research and scholarship in development economics. BREAD fellows are leading researchers in development economics, and their main activities are conferences and a working paper series. 


Podcast highlights from the Department:

Cutting Edge Issues Podcast Series 

The LSE Department of International Development has recently launched a podcast of the Cutting Edge Issues in Development Thinking & Practice lecture series 2020-21. Cutting Edge Issues is an annual visiting lecture series coordinated by Dr Duncan Green, Professor in Practice in the Department, and Professor James Putzel, Professor of Development Studies. These talks provide students and guests with invaluable insights into the practical world of international development, with guest lecturers from different development organisations and research institutes sharing their expertise and inviting discussion on an exciting range of issues, from responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, to climate change policy, to decolonising academia. 

This podcast series – and all other LSE ID podcasts, from our archive and going forward – are now available on all major streaming platforms including AppleSpotifyGoogle and Amazon.  

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.

Decolonising development studies: panel discussion

On Tuesday 27 July the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa and the Department of International Development hosted a panel discussion on 'Decolonising development studies: Practical steps in course designing, reading selections and classroom discussions'. The event was chaired by ID's Dr Eyob Balcha Gebremariam and featured panellists Dr Rosalba Icaza, Associate Professor, Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University; Dr Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes, Curtin University, Centre for Human Rights Education; Dr. Althea-Maria Rivas, Department of Development Studies, SOAS.

The discussion covered many complex questions around how to decolonise development studies, considering the various layers of this debate which address epistemological questions, methodological issues, diversity of authors, curriculum designing, and classroom discussions with and among students. The event built on the lessons and challenges of teaching African Development using decolonial perspectives in the current academic year at the LSE, International Development Department, and what this may mean for other disciplines.

You can watch the lecture back on YouTube here.
You can listen to the podcast recording of the lecture here


Highlights from the International Development at LSE Blog

Digitalisation: one solution to all inequalities in Pakistan?
MSc Social Policy and Development Alum Maryam Naqvi considers the gaps between policy and implementation in Pakistan’s plans for mass digitalisation.

Steve Biko and the philosophy of Black consciousness
MSc Development Studies candidate, Mubarak Aliyu tells us about the life and work of Steve Biko who pioneered The Black Consciousness Movement and played a crucial role in the resistance to Apartheid in South Africa. Pursuing broad coalitions alongside ideas of Black theology and indigenous values, Biko’s role in the anti-Apartheid struggle can be read as one of philosopher as much as activist.

Scotiabank wants to leave small Caribbean markets. It’s not that easy
MSc Development Studies alum Alejandra Padin-Dujon examines what small Eastern Caribbean economies like Antigua and Barbuda stand to lose through Scotiabank’s move to sell its businesses in the region.

Unpacking gender dynamics in food systems
MSc Development Management student Satender Rana proposes a conceptual framework to unravel gender dynamics in food systems and argues for the importance of addressing gender inequalities to develop efficient, inclusive and resilient food systems.

Inflation: another menace for India to tame?
In this article, Anand B and Shreya Gulati argue that India and other developing countries are currently faced with the twin challenges of economic revival and increasing inflation. Moreover, global economic recovery might prove to be detrimental for a developing country’s economy, contrary to the popular opinion. In the face of such challenges, they suggest that these countries need to walk a tightrope between accommodative and tight monetary policy. 

Bananas, tourism and colonial legacies in the Caribbean
MSc Development Studies alum Alejandra Padin-Dujon explores the links between the Caribbean banana trade and tourism industry, and the colonial legacies embedded within them.

Communal struggles for water through coproduction: Pandemic experiences in highland Ecuador in historical perspective
The crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated water inequalities in Ecuador as economic activity has collapsed, government revenues have plunged, and poverty has soared. In this context, approaches to water services that create space for water users to secure collective control of local water supplies take on renewed importance. Dr Geoff Goodwin has published this blog post in both English and in Spanish


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


Re-using Administrative Data for Statistics: Case Studies from Five Countries

Tiziana Leone

The report was produced in response to the increasing interest in administrative data combined with the amplified imperativeness of leveraging these data for policymaking during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is motivated by existing literature on the benefits of administrative data for improving the efficiency and accuracy of developing national statistics and evidence-based policies. The report focuses on five case studies – Chile, Denmark, Ghana, Kenya, and Pakistan – by presenting country profiles and illustrating insights of local experts on existing data sharing practices.


I no longer have a hope of studying: gender norms, education and wellbeing of refugee girls in Rwanda

Ernestina Coast
Routledge Humanitarian Studies (2021)

Adolescents are rarely considered as a distinct group within research about refugees, and relatively little is known about the lives and experiences of adolescent refugees in Rwanda. Rarely are adolescents’ perspectives, experiences and opinions sought, and their participation in decision-making [educational, economic, political] is limited. Our data are drawn from qualitative evidence collected in three Rwandan refugee camps from individual and group interactions with male and female adolescents, including adolescents who had given birth before age 20. Evidence focuses on two capability areas: education and learning and, psychosocial wellbeing. Gendered norms for adolescents affect educational outcomes and psychosocial wellbeing, and adolescent mothers experience multiple stressors to their psychosocial wellbeing. Our evidence highlights the extreme vulnerability – with lifelong implications – of some adolescent refugees. Refugee adolescent mothers face exceptionally heightened vulnerabilities because of the social stigma associated with non-marital pregnancy and childbearing. Investing in the lives of adolescent refugees – particularly those who are pregnant or mothers – is likely to yield significant medium- long-term dividends in terms of their life chances.


Making Reform Work: Institutions, Dispositions, and the Improving Health of Bangladesh

Jean-Paul Faguet
World Development (2021)

The authors examine whether local governance can improve social development empirically, using good and bad cases of public health outcomes in Bangladesh. They explore the institutional underpinnings of service provision, digging down beneath the "rules of the game" to analyze the beliefs, understandings, and dispositions that drive social behavior. Changes in deep social attitudes led to improvements in social indicators. Regional variation in health outcomes is explained by the presence or absence of a dense web of relationships that enmeshed reformers in local systems of authority and legitimacy, strengthening their actions and making local society more susceptible to change.


Climate institutions in Brazil: three decades of building and dismantling climate capacity


Institutionalising decarbonisation in South Africa: navigating climate mitigation and socio-economic transformation

Kathryn Hochstetler
Environmental Politics (2021)

What kinds of institutions can meet the challenges of climate change - especially in the context of other social goals, like economic development and social transformation? Professor Kathy Hochstetler has two new articles on this topic, written as part of a group that was led by Professor Navroz Dubash of the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. Her article on Brazil shows the complex interactions of climate institutions and the politics of agribusiness in that country, where most GHG emissions come from deforestation and land-use change. In South Africa (article with Emily Tyler of South Africa), climate institutions face significant challenges of energy transition from coal. These challenges are made much more complicated by the apartheid government’s historic embedding of deliberate and extreme racial inequality in the energy system and broader economy there. They will be in a special issue of the journal Environmental Politics that includes studies of other major emitters, and is entirely open access.


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

Kenneth Shadlen
Social Science & 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). The authors focus on three dimensions of vaccination: procurement and production; regulation of marketing registration; and distribution and uptake. For each dimension they show the distinct challenges and opportunities faced by MICs. 


If she's pregnant, then that means that her dreams fade away: exploring experiences of adolescent pregnancy and motherhood in Rwanda

Ernestina Coast
European Journal of Development Research (2021)

This article considers how adolescents’ capabilities are influenced by pregnancy and motherhood, using a mixed-methods case study of Rwanda. Adolescent motherhood impacts girls’ lives across multiple capabilities including education, psychosocial well-being, voice and agency, and economic empowerment. Rarely were adolescent mothers in our sample supported to return to school, for instance. Their pregnancy and motherhood were stigmatised by their families, peers, wider community and service providers. The psychosocial consequences of adolescent motherhood are significant, linked to social isolation and multifaceted stressors, including poverty. Despite recent policy and service improvements, adolescent mothers continue to be left behind.


Domestic humanitarianism: the Mission France of Médecins Sans Frontières and Médecins du Monde

Tine Hanrieder
Third World Quarterly (2021)

What are the boundaries of humanitarianism? This question is controversially debated among humanitarian practitioners and scholars, given ever-changing spaces and temporalities of human suffering. This paper explores an understudied site of this controversy: the domestic humanitarian engagement of Médecins Sans Frontières and Médecins du Monde, two NGOs widely regarded as epitomes of liberal international humanitarianism.


Are landscape approaches possible under authoritarianism? Multi-stakeholder governance and social transformation in Myanmar

Tim Forsyth
Environmental Science & Policy (2021)

Landscape Approaches have been proposed as a transferable model of multi-stakeholder governance, yet assume conditions of ideal speech, trust, and transparency that seem untransferable to authoritarian regimes. This paper argues that building Landscape Approaches under authoritarian conditions cannot be based on a governance deficit model of awaiting idealized political conditions, but instead needs to pay attention to how local social and political structures influence what is deliberated, and by whom. The paper presents evidence from a multi-stakeholder environmental intervention around Lake Indawgyi in Kachin State, Myanmar, to draw lessons for transferring Landscapes Approaches under conditions of political authoritarianism, sporadic violent conflict, and rapid socio-economic change. 


Geographies of unease: Witchcraft and boundary construction in an African borderland

Elizabeth Storer
Political Geography (2021)

African borderlands – such as those between South Sudan, Uganda and Congo – are often presented by analysts as places of agency and economic opportunity, in contrast to hardened, securitized borders elsewhere. We emphasize, however, that even such relatively porous international borders can nevertheless be the focus of significant unease for borderland communities. Crossing borders can enable safety for those fleeing conflict or trading prospects for businesspeople, but it can also engender anxieties around the unchecked spread of insecurity, disease and economic exploitation.


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