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International Development and Social Justice research cluster

Our research investigates the dynamics between social justice and international development. We are interested in the contradictory, uneven and unequal impacts of economic development on society and culture. We ask how people resist, leverage and engage with the changes that development produces at various scales from the village to the global city. In what ways does development produce new forms of mobility, socially and spatially? How does development re-shape social structures like gender, race, generation and class? How can academic research engage with activism and solidarity to further social justice?


  • Andean Network for Venezuelan Migrants (2019-2021): Dr Jasmine Gideon is the Co-I on this EPSRC GCRF-UKRI network grant led by Dr Juan Arroyo Laguna, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia. They are also collaborating with UK-based colleagues at Imperial College as well as at the Central European University. Network partners in Latin America are located in a number of universities, schools of public health and health ministries in Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru. The aim of the project is to strengthen the responses of countries to mass migration through cooperative learning and strengthening capacities, using national and international workshops and visits to Venezuelan communities.
  • Working conditions in two hospitals in Lima, Peru (2020): This EPSRC GCRF-UKRI funded project involving Dr Jasmine Gideon will examine working conditions in 2 hospitals in Lima – a public hospital and a public-private partnership run hospital. This work is in collaboration with 2 colleagues in Peru at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru (Dr Ruth Iguiñiz-Romero) and the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima, Peru (Dr Camila Gianella).
  • Learning in West Africa (2019-2021): Development and Education in the Vernacular for Infants and Children (DEVI), the Ewe word for child, is a British Academy funded research project in West Africa that aims to identify the local epistemologies and pedagogies that families in poor communities deploy to support their children’s education in the early years. It seeks to ensure that early childhood development and education interventions made possible by policy and funding initiatives responding to Sustainable Development Goal 4.2 can supplement and strengthen rather than displace this support. Working with collaborators at the University of Ghana, Professor Karen Wells aims in this project to identify local theories about how children’s cognitive development is accomplished and embedded in daily practice and interaction, and how this is inflected by a range of social inequalities and shaped by political economy. The research team is looking to design a model to engage communities in strategies for strengthening early years community-based education that scaffolds children’s vernacular education between home and school.
  • Public-private partnerships (2017-18): In the Equalities in Public-Private Partnerships (EQUIPPPS) ESRC GCRF funded project, Dr Jasmine Gideon led a research network that explored how Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) fund public services in the developing world. This research examined PPPs in India and South Africa and how they affect inequalities and access to services.
  • Nepali women construction workers in India (2017-19): In this project funded by both the London International Development Centre and the Global Challenges Research Fund, Dr Kalpana Wilson worked with Dr Feyzi Ismail (SOAS) to examine the gendered working conditions of women construction workers in Nepal and existing and potential strategies for transforming these conditions. The project focuses on the impact of post-earthquake Mason Training Schemes aimed at women, trade union interventions around wages and conditions (including sexual harassment), and women workers’ informal collective strategies in negotiating with contractors and employers.
  • Acoustic Geographies (2015): At the heart of this Leverhulme funded project with Professor Karen Wells in collaboration with artist Ain Bailey was the proposition that the ‘distinguishing feature of auditory experience...[is] its reconfigure space’ (Conner, 1997, p.206 cited in Born, 2015:3). The interest was in seeing (hearing) how a composition that was developed from the underlying or barely audible soundscape of the space of performance might shape the audience’s experience of these spaces.
  • International Private Fostering (2013-2015): This project by Professor Karen Wells aimed to understand the experiences of children who had been privately fostered in the UK across borders. It was funded by the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect and involved interviews with social workers and privately fostered children, reviews of advice line calls to Children and Families Across Borders and a review of safeguarding reports in London Boroughs. It found that many children who present as ‘privately fostered’ have been in effect abandoned by their parents and are living with strangers. While the homes they live in may be safe, their insecure immigration status renders them vulnerable and in addition, if not regularised, will lead to complicated and stalled transitions to adulthood.