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Alice C. Evans BA MSc PhD

Alice C. Evans BA MSc PhD

University Lecturer in Human Geography

Alice researches inequality and social change. Current projects include: (1) rural-urban differences in gender relations; (2) thinking and working politically in the garment industry; (3) the politicisation of inequality.

Biography

Career

  • 2015 - present: Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2013 - 2015: Fellow in Human Geography, LSE
  • 2012 - 2015: LSE100 Fellow, LSE

Qualifications

  • PhD Human Geography, LSE (2013). Dissertation title: 'Women can do what men can do': the causes and consequences of growing flexibility in gender divisions of labour in Kitwe, Zambia.
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education, Full Level, University of London (LSE) (2012).
  • MSc Development Studies (Research), LSE (2009).
  • BA Philosophy, University of Nottingham (2007).
  • Languages: Fluent in spoken/written English and Bemba; basic French.

Research

Alice's three ongoing research projects are detailed below.

(1) Why is there greater support for gender equality in urban (rather than rural) areas?

Across the world, people in urban (rather than rural) areas are more likely to support gender equality - in education, employment and leadership, for example. Why is this? And what does it tell us about the causes of egalitarian social change?

Alice argues that ideas spread more quickly in interconnected, heterogeneous, densely populated areas. Through multiple sightings of others doing things differently, people come to revise their norm perceptions, and become more inclined to likewise adopt alternative practices. Exposure to women demonstrating their equal competence in socially valued, masculine roles appears to disrupt gender ideologies and catalyse a positive feedback loop, thereby increasing flexibility in gender divisions of labour. Women in densely populated areas also tend to have greater access to health clinics and police, so are more able to control their fertility and secure external support against gender-based violence.

None of these are inevitable consequences of urbanisation, however. Experiences of the urban are shaped by macro-economic conditions, government policies and also individual-level circumstances (such as occupation).

This theory was developed by engaging with a global literature and undertaking comparative rural-urban ethnographic research in Zambia and Cambodia. Alice is also exploring cross-national quantitative data on rural-urban differences, in collaboration with Dr. Liam Swiss.

(2) Thinking and Working Politically in the Global Garment Industry: Strengthening Trade Unions, Tackling Gender Ideologies and Reforming International Trade

To improve working conditions in the global garment industry we need to think and work politically. Mainstream interventions (ad hoc NGO workshops and box-ticking corporate codes of conduct) are largely ineffective, because they do not strengthen the power of labour against capital. Across South East Asia, it is mass strikes and demonstrations that have led to concerted increases in the minimum wage. But although collective mobilisation has been a major driver of change, it is often weakened by two factors that donors tend to overlook: gender ideologies and international trade rules. Alice is presently researching politically feasible reforms in these two domains.

(3) The Politicisation of Inequality

Alice is exploring why and how ideas matter for inclusive development. She argues that inequalities are reinforced when the status quo is taken for granted, accepted, naturalised and uncontested. But this can be disrupted when marginalised people gain self-esteem; disavow stereotypes of being less competent and deserving of status; challenge hitherto unquestioned inequalities; and gain confidence in the possibility of social change. Such shifts in ideas can disrupt hegemonic discourses about entitlements, politicise inequality and foster wider support for equality, among advantaged groups and political elites. Slowly and incrementally, this may catalyse greater government commitment to socially inclusive economic growth. The state may also take a lead role in this process, as can transnational networks and international institutions – even if they have not always done so.

Publications

Journal articles

Book chapters

  • da Corta, L.; Darko, E.; Evans, A.; Kayunze, E.; Shepherd, A. and Tarmo, T. (2013) 'Hidden Hunger in Rural Tanzania', in Flora Kessy, Oswald Mashindano and Andrew Shepherd (eds.) Translating Growth into Poverty Reduction (Oxford: African Books Collective).
  • Evans, A.; Kessy, F.; Luvanda, E.; Scott, L. and Shepherd A. (2013) 'Taking the Plunge on Social Assistance in Rural Tanzania: assessing the options', in Flora Kessy, Oswald Mashindano and Andrew Shepherd (eds.) Translating Growth into Poverty Reduction (Oxford: African Books Collective).
  • Evans, A. (2010) 'Sexuality, Poverty and Gender amongst Gambian Youth' for Sylvia Chant (ed.) The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar).

Book reviews

  • Evans, A. (2011) Development in an Insecure and Gendered World: The relevance of the Millennium Development Goals, edited by Jacqueline Leckie (2009, Farnham: Ashgate), Gender, Place and Culture 18:5, 708-710.

Additional outputs

Teaching

  • Economic Globalisation and its Crises
  • Development Theories, Policies and Practices
  • Human Geography Research and Analysis Skills
  • The Political Geography of Postcolonialism

External activities

  • Member, Development Studies Association
  • External Examiner, University College London