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Dr Lisa Tilley

  • Overview



    Lisa Tilley joined Birkbeck in September 2018 after holding previous positions at Warwick and Queen Mary. Her research interests are largely anchored in critical approaches to political ecology and political economy but also cross over into critical geography and urban studies. She draws on various theoretical approaches to ‘the colonial question’ in material analyses of environmental harm and expropriation with a special focus on frontiers of capital in Indonesia. She has analysed key sites of colonial/capitalist expansion – the plantation, the mine, and the city – adding detail to our knowledge of social and ecological formations, technologies and logics produced through those locations. Her work has appeared in New Political Economy, Sociology, Asia Pacific Viewpoint, Antipode, Review of International Political Economy, and History of the Present 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).


    Selected Publications

    Academic Articles and Book Chapters

    Tilley, L. (2020) “A Strange Industrial Order:” Indonesia’s Racialized Plantation Ecologies and Anticolonial Estate Worker Rebellions. History of the Present Vol 10 (1).

    Tilley, L. (2020). “The impulse is cartographic”: Counter‐Mapping Indonesia’s Resource Frontiers in the Context of Coloniality. Antipode, Early View.

    Tilley, L. (2020) Extractive Investibility in Historical Colonial Perspective: The Emerging Market and its Antecedents in Indonesia. Review of International Political Economy.

    Tilley, L., Elias, J., & Rethel, L. (2019) Evictions, Public Housing, and the Rationalisation of Kampung Life in Jakarta. Asia Pacific Viewpoint 60(1).

    Tilley, L. (2017). Resisting Piratic Method by Doing Research Otherwise. Sociology, 51(1), 27-42.

    Tilley, L., & Shilliam, R. (2018). Raced Markets: An Introduction. New Political Economy 23 (5), 534—543.

    Parasram, A., & Tilley, L. (2018) Global Environmental Harm, Internal Frontiers, and Indigenous Protective Ontologies. In O. Rutazibwa and R. Shilliam (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics.

    Tilley, L., Elias, J., & Rethel, L. (2017). Undoing Ruination in Jakarta: The Gendered Remaking of Life on a Wasted Landscape. International Feminist Journal of Politics, 19(4), 522-529.

    Tilley, L., Elias, J., & Rethel, L. (2019) The Production and Contestation of Exemplary Centres in Southeast Asia. Asia Pacific Viewpoint 60(1)

    Bhambra, G. K., Last, A., Mayblin, L., & Tilley, L. (2018). Global Social Theory: Building resources. Area, 54 (4), 816-819.

    Bhambra, G. K., Medien, K., & Tilley, L (2020). Theory for a Global Age: From Nativism to Neoliberalism and Beyond. Current Sociology, 68(2), 137-148.

    Rethel, L., Elias, J., & Tilley, L. (2019) “Tales from two cities: Financialisation, consumerism and affordable housing in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta” In J. Fischer, J. Jammes (Eds.) Muslim Piety as Economy: Markets, Meaning and Morality in Southeast Asia, London: Routledge

    Elias, J., Rethel, L., & Tilley, L. (2019) “IPE and IPS meet in Jakarta: feminist research agendas seen through everyday life” contribution to the forum: International Political Economy (IPE) meets International Political Sociology (IPS) International Relations

    Tilley, L., Kumar, A., & Cowan, T. (2017). Enclosures and Discontents: Primitive Accumulation and Resistance Under Global Capital. City, 21(3-4), 420-427.

    Tilley, L. (2017). "Well, City Boy Rangoon, it's time to stitch up the evening": material, meaning, and Man in the (post)colonial city. In Jackson, M. (Ed.) Coloniality, Ontology, and the Question of the Posthuman, Routledge.

    Tilley, L. (2017). Immanent Politics in the Kampungs: Gendering, Performing, and Mapping the Jakarta Economic Subject. In A. Lacey (Ed.) Women, Urbanization and Sustainability, Palgrave Macmillan.

    Special Issues

    Co-editor: Theory for a Global Age: A special issue for the journal Current Sociology (2020)

    Co-editor: Raced Markets: A special issue on race and political economy for the journal New Political Economy (published 2018)

    Co-editor: The Production and Contestation of Exemplary Centres in Southeast Asia. A special issue for the journal Asia Pacific Viewpoint (2019)

    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 (published 2017)

    Selected Blogs and Media Contributions

    Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud: Eugenics and the ‘Aging Population’ in Conservative Pandemic Governance. Discover Society.

    Simones’ Cities: Ain’t it hard just to live? As part of a forum co-edited with Aya Nassar for Dialogues in Human Geography on AbdouMaliq Simone’s book Improvised Lives

    Imagining Africa – ‘White civilizational vitality’ across time and space. The Disorder of Things as part of a forum on Clive Gabay’s book Imagining Africa

    (Post)colonial Lives of Property and the Contradictions of Use. The Disorder of Things

    Populist Academics, Colonial Demography, and Far-right Discursive Ecologies Discover Society

    ‘But what about the aid worker?’ Al Jazeera

    Interview – Lisa Tilley. E-International Relations

    Editor and contributor: Forum on ‘Race and the Undeserving Poor’. The Disorder of Things

    Shilliam’s Undeserving Refusal. Or, why a relational politics of liberation was always (is always) possible. The Disorder of Things

    Recasting and Re-racialising the ‘Third World’ in ‘emerging market’ terms: Understanding market emergence in historical colonial perspective. Discover Society

    Review: Connected Sociologies. E-International Relations

    The Making of the ‘White Working Class’. Wildcat Dispatches

    Fragments from a Critical Geography Conference. The Disorder of Things

    Negotiating Ramadan in Indonesia. Discover Society

    Administrative responsibilities

    • Equalities Lead, Department of Politics
    • Academic Staff Governor 2021-24
    • Student Experience Lead, Department of Politics

    Professional activities

    International Advisory Board Member, Studies in Political Economy

    Chair of the Global Development Section (GDS) of the International Studies Association (ISA) incoming 2024

    Co-chair EISA Standing Section 'Political Economy Beyond Boundaries'

    Co-convenor, CPD Working Group of the British International Studies Association (BISA) 2016-2021

    Professional memberships

    • BISA

    • EISA

    • ISA

  • Research


    Research interests

    • Race, gender, class
    • Political Ecology & Economy
    • Environmental harm
    • Indonesia and Southeast Asia
    • The Colonial Question
    • Urban life
    • Extractives and resource frontiers

    Research overview

    My research takes a granular look at the sites and mechanisms of extraction and enclosure, as well as the material, ecological, and social effects of these.

    I am particularly interested in the global history and present of the plantation and the mine; racial labour hierarchies and the production of difference through economic structures; and forms of racialisation in the service of economic projects.   

    I recently finished a three year Leverhulme project entitled 'Race, Intimacy, and Extraction on a Resource Frontier'. This work explored social and ecological transformations provoked by the extension of mining and plantation operations across an extractive frontier within Indonesia. The study considered 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, this project revealed a picture of the production of a regime of racial difference which structures corporate operations in the local area in the service of a broader economy of extraction.

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    I am currently supervising: 

    Ashima Gandhi - “England Belongs to Me” Examining the politics of belonging and participation for migrant and minority women in London

    Irna Nurlina Masron - Heritage politics and the urban village in Jakarta

    Sukhi Bath - Decolonising the curriculum: An exploration of academics’ perceptions, motivations and approaches in UK universities  

    Current doctoral researchers



    My teaching focus is Political Economy and Global Environmental Politics 

    Teaching modules

    • Perspectives on Political Economy (LALW064S7)
    • Geopolitics, Population and Environment (SSPO121S7)
    • Gender, Race and Class in Global Political Economy (SSPO148S5)
  • Publications




    • Tilley, Lisa and Shilliam, R., eds. (2021) Raced markets. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. ISBN 9780367762155. (In Press)

    Book Section


    External Repositories