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Lisa Tilley

Lecturer in Politics (Leverhulme Early Career Fellow)

Lisa Tilley joined Birkbeck in September 2018 after holding previous positions at Warwick and Queen Mary, University of London. Her research interests are largely anchored in critical approaches to political economy/development, but they also cross over into critical geography, urban studies, and sociology.

She draws on various theoretical approaches to 'the colonial question' in material analyses of accumulation and expropriation in the global political economy, with a special focus on Indonesia. Her work has appeared in New Political Economy, Sociology and Asia Pacific Viewpoint, among other journals and edited collections.

Lisa also co-founded the collaborative research project Raced Markets, which explores 'race' in relation to political economy, while her other positions include Associate Editor of the pedagogical resource Global Social Theory and Co-Convenor of the Colonial, Postcolonial, Decolonial Working Group of the British International Studies Association (CPD-BISA).


  • 'Race', gender and class (in relation to one another)
  • Political economy
  • 'Development'
  • Indonesia and Southeast Asia
  • The colonial question
  • Urban life
  • Extractives and rural expropriation

Lisa’s academic background is mainly in political economy/critical development studies and the central concern of her work relates to how race and other intersecting forms of hierarchised difference enable processes of accumulation and expropriation. A further concern of her research relates to how hierarchised difference is itself produced in and through the political economy. Most of her fieldwork-intensive research has been conducted in Southeast Asia, specifically across the rural and urban frontiers of Indonesia.

Lisa is currently an Early Career Fellow on the Leverhulme project Race, Intimacy, and Extraction on an Internal Frontier. This is a three-year research project exploring social transformations provoked by the extension of mining operations across an extractive frontier within Indonesia. This study considers the internal frontier as a site of enclosure and expropriation, but also as the location of 'difference' as the home of Indigenous and racialised populations who contradict the state’s idea of the 'proper citizen'. Overall, the study reveals a picture of the production of a regime of racial difference that structures corporate operations in the local area in the service of a broader economy of extraction.

Selected Publications

Academic Articles and Book Chapters

Special Issues

  • Co-editor, 'Raced Markets': a special issue on race and political economy for the journal New Political Economy (2018).
  • Co-editor, 'The Production and Contestation of Exemplary Centres in Southeast Asia'. A special issue for the journal Asia Pacific Viewpoint (forthcoming).
  • Co-editor, 'Enclosures and Discontents': A special issue examining the concept of ‘primitive accumulation’ today from various global theoretical and empirical perspectives for the journal City (2017).
  • Co-editor, 'Theory for a Global Age': A special issue for the journal Current Sociology (forthcoming).

Selected Blogs and Media Contributions

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