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Dr Emma Mawdsley BA PhD

Dr Emma Mawdsley BA PhD

Reader in Human Geography and Fellow of Newnham College

Human Geographer with a particular interest in the 'rising powers' and the changing politics of development



  • 1996-2003: Lecturer, Department of Geography, Durham University
  • 2003-2005: Lecturer, School of Geography and Environment, Birkbeck College, University of London
  • 2005-6: Senior Lecturer, School of Geography and Environment, Birkbeck College, University of London
  • 2006-2009: Lecturer, Department of Geography, Cambridge University
  • 2009-2014: Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, Cambridge University
  • 2014-present: Reader in Human Geography


  • 1989-1992: BA Geography, St. John's College, Cambridge University
  • 1992-1996: PhD Geography, St. John's College, Cambridge University


I'm interested in the politics (broadly interpreted) of international development. I have a particular interest in South-South development cooperation, but also in how this growing phenomenon and other national and global shifts are affecting the (so-called) 'traditional' donors. Recent work includes research on DFID's growing private sector-led growth agenda, financialisation and development, and donor exit from and transition within partner countries. I have an ongoing research connection to India. Recent work with Supriya Roychoudhury is on how India is (or more often, isn't) enrolling civil society actors in its formal development partnerships.

Past research has included:

  • Development politics, including work on the World Bank's World Development Reports; development NGOs; the US's Millennium Challenge Account; and the impacts and representations of China and India's deepening relations with Africa.
  • How India's growing middle classes experience and construct environmental change. Research issues include how they attribute and explain agency, cause and consequence; implications for the poor and marginalised; and implications for environmental politics and environmental trends in India.
  • Environmental issues in India more broadly, including environmental and regional politics in Uttarakhand, and the contested issues around Hinduism, the Hindu Right, and environmental ideas and practices.

Potential PhD topics

I welcome suggestions and proposals for PhD supervision in international development issues more broadly; and particularly encourage potential applicants wishing to work on:

  • South-South Development Cooperation (SSDC): whether in terms of specific actors, sectors or issues
  • India is a particular (but not exclusive) interest in relation to SSDC
  • Changing narratives, definitions, policies and practices amongst DAC donors, especially but not limited to the UK's Department for International Development and other UK/DAC conduits of foreign aid
  • Private-sector led development approaches; including financialisation and development

Current and past projects

  • The DFID-India transition: Cambridge Humanities Research Grant, with Bhaskar Vira (2017)
  • Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2016-17): DFID and private sector-led development
  • Changing development and civil society: implications, strategies, impacts. Cambridge Humanities Research Grant (2013)
  • The challenges, impacts and opportunities associated with the 'non-DAC' donors, including a DFID-funded project on public perceptions (2010-2011)
  • 'The Changing Geographies of Power and Development: Contemporary India-East Africa Relations' (PI). This was funded by the British Academy, and comprises a range of smaller projects. For more details, go to the BASAS website. Outputs include a paper on India's development cooperation with Kenya (Mawdsley 2010) and an edited volume, Mawdsley and McCann (2011).
  • Domestic visitors to India's national parks: why the 'ordinary' middle classes (the 'picnickers') are so often excluded from political ecology and mainstream wildlife management analyses of national parks and conservations; and why more attention should be paid to this constituency.
  • Bourgeois environmentalism and urban political ecology


Selected publications by subject area:

International development

  • Marcondes, D. and Mawdsley (forthcoming) South-South in retreat? Lula-Rousseff-Temer transitions and Brazilian Development Cooperation. International Affairs.
  • Banks, G., McEwan, C., Mawdsley, E. and Scheyvens, R. (2017) Corporate Community Development: can the private sector succeed? Development and Change 48 (1), 28-53.
  • Mawdsley, E. (2016) 'Development Progress Report II: Financialisation and Development'. Progress in Human Geography
  • Mawdsley, E. (2015) Development Progress Report I: Cooperation, competition and convergence between 'North' and 'South' in international development: Provincialising Development? Progress in Human Geography
  • Mawdsley, E. (2015) DFID, the private sector, and the re-centring of an economic growth agenda in international development. Global Society 29 (3), 339-58
  • Mawdsley, E. (2014) Public Perceptions of India's Role as a Development Cooperation Partner: Domestic Responses to Rising 'Donor' Visibility. Third World Quarterly, 35 (6), 958-79.
  • Mawdsley, E. (2014) Human Rights and South-South Development Cooperation: reflections on the 'rising powers' as international development actors. Human Rights Quarterly 36 (3), 630-52.
  • Mawdsley, E., Savage, L. and Kim, S-M (2014) A 'Post-Aid World'? Paradigm shift in foreign aid anddevelopment cooperation at the 2011 Busan High Level Forum. Geographical Journal 180 (1), 27-38
  • McEwan, C. and Mawdsley, E. (2012) Trilateral Development Cooperation: Power and Politics in Emerging Aid Relations. Development and Change 43 (6), 1185-1209
  • Mawdsley, E. (2012) From Recipients to Donors: The Emerging Powers and the Changing Development Landscape. London: Zed.
  • Mawdsley, E. (2012) The Changing Geographies of Foreign Aid and Development Cooperation: Contributions from Gift Theory. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 37 (2), 256-72.
  • Mawdsley, E. (2011) The Conservatives, the Coalition and International Development. Area 43 (4), 506-7
  • Mawdsley, E. and McCann, G. (eds) (2011) India and Africa: Changing Geographies of Power and Development. Oxford: Famahu
  • Mawdsley, E. (2011) The rhetorics and rituals of India-Africa development cooperation. In E. Mawdsley and G. McCann (eds) India and Africa: Changing Geographies of Power and Development. Oxford: Fahamu.
  • Mawdsley, E. (2011) 'India as a postcolonial donor'. In Randall, V., Burnell, P. and Rakner, L. (eds) Politics in the Developing World. OUP 3rd edition
  • Mawdsley, E. (2010) The Non-DAC donors and the changing landscape of foreign aid: the (in)significance of India's development cooperation with Kenya. Journal of Eastern African Studies 4 (2), 361-79
  • Mawdsley, E and McCann, G (2010) The Elephant in the Corner: Reviewing India-Africa relations in the new millennium. Geography Compass 4 (2), 81-93.
  • Mawdsley, E. (2008) 'Fu Manchu versus Dr Livingstone in the Dark Continent? Representing China, Africa and the West in British Broadsheet Newspapers'. Political Geography, 27 (5), pp. 509-29.
  • Mawdsley, E. (2007) 'The Millennium Challenge Account: neo-liberalism, poverty and security'. The Review of International Political Economy, 14 (3), pp. 487-509
  • Mawdsley, E. (2007) 'The changing geographies of China-Africa relations, 1949-present'. Geography Compass (1), March 2007
  • Towsend, J.G., Porter, G. and Mawdsley, E. (2007) NGO-State Relations in the 21st Century: Implications for Poverty Eradication Programmes in Ghana and India. Oxford: INTRAC
  • Mawdsley, E., Porter, G. and Townsend, J. (2005) 'Trust, accountability and face-to-face interaction in North-South NGO relations', Development in Practice, 15 (1), pp. 77-82
  • Townsend, J., Porter, G. and Mawdsley, E. (2004) 'Creating Spaces of Resistance: Development NGOs and their Clients in Ghana, India and Mexico', Antipode, 36 (5), pp. 871-99
  • Mawdsley, E. and Rigg, J. (2003) 'The World Development Reports II: continuity and change in development orthodoxies', Progress in Development Studies, 3 (4), pp. 271-86
  • Townsend, J.G., Mawdsley, E. and Porter, G. (2003) 'Development hegemonies and local outcomes: women and NGOs in Low Income Countries', in E. Kofman and G. Young (eds.) Globalization: theory and practice, 2nd ed. Continuum, London
  • Mawdsley, E. and Rigg, J. (2002) 'The World Development Reports I: hidden agendas and discursive strategies', Progress in Development Studies, 2 (2), pp. 5-23.
  • Mawdsley, E., Townsend, J.G., Porter, G., and Oakley, P. (2002) Knowledge, Power and Development Agendas: NGOs North and South. Oxford: INTRAC
  • Townsend, J.G., Porter, G. and Mawdsley, E. (2002) 'Different Poverties, Different Policies? The Role of the Transnational Community of NGOs?' Journal for International Development, 14 (6), pp.829-39.
  • Townsend, J.G., Mawdsley, E. and Porter, G. (2002) 'Challenges for NGOs', in V. Desai and R. Potter (eds.) The Companion to Development Studies. London: Routledge.

Indian environmental and regional politics

  • Truelove, Y. and Mawdsley, E. (2011) Class and water: discourses of citizenship and criminality in clean, green Delhi. In I. Clark-Desecs (ed) A Companion to the Anthropology of India. Princeton University Press.
  • Mawdsley, E., Mehra, D. and Beazley, K. (2009) 'Nature Lovers, Picnickers and Bourgeois Environmentalism' Economic and Political Weekly 44 (11) March 14-20, 2009, pp.49-60
  • Mawdsley, E. (2009) 'Environmentality' in the neoliberal city: attitudes, governance and social justice. In H. lange and L. Meier (eds.) The New Middle Classes - Globalising Lifestyles, Consumerism, and Environmental Concern.
  • Mawdsley, E. (2009) Industrialisation, sustainable development and environmental politics in India. In W. Brown, C. Aradau and J. Budds (eds) Environmental Issues and Responses. Open University Press.
  • Williams, G. and Mawdsley, E. (2006) 'Postcolonial environmental justice: government and governance in India', Geofoum 37, pp.660-70
  • Mawdsley, E. (2006) 'Hindu Nationalism, Postcolonialism and Environmental Discourses in India', Geoforum, 37 (3), pp.380-90.
  • Williams, G. and Mawdsley, E. (2006) 'India's Evolving Political Ecologies', in S.E. Corbridge, S. Kumar and S. Raju (eds) Colonial and Postcolonial Geographies of India. New Delhi: Sage.
  • Mawdsley, E. (2005) 'The Abuse of Religion and Ecology: The Vishva Hindu Parishad and Tehri Dam', Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion, 8 (2), pp. 1-24
  • Mawdsley, E. (2004) 'India's Middle Classes and the Environment'. Development and Change, 35 (1), pp.79-103
  • Mawdsley, E. (2003) 'Divided We Stand: Identity and Protest in the Demand for a Separate Hill State', in R. Jeffery and J. Lerche (eds.) Social and Political Change in Uttar Pradesh: European Perspectives. New Delhi: Manohar.
  • Mawdsley, E. (2002) 'Redrawing the Body politic; Federalism, Regionalism and the Creation of New States in India', The Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, 40 (3), pp.34-54.
  • Mawdsley, E. (2002) 'Region and State: Centralisation and Decentralisation in India', in R. Bradnock and G. Williams (eds.) South Asia in a Globalising World. London: Addison Wesley Longman.
  • Mawdsley, E. (2000) 'The Role of Women in the Uttaranchal Regional Movement', in M.P. Joshi, A.C. Fanger and C.W. Brown (eds.) Himalaya, Past and Present, Vol. IV. Almora: Shree Almora Book Depot.
  • Mawdsley, E. (1999) 'A New Himalayan State in India: Popular Perceptions of Regionalism, Politics and Development', Mountain Research and Development, 19 (2) pp. 101-12.
  • Mawdsley, E. (1998) 'After Chipko: From Environment to Region in Uttaranchal', Journal of Peasant Studies, 25 (4), pp. 36-54.
  • Mawdsley, E. (1997) 'Non-Secessionist Regionalism in India: the Uttarakhand Separate State Movement', Environment and Planning A, (29), pp. 2217-2235.
  • Mawdsley, E. (1996) 'The Uttarakhand Agitation and the Other Backward Classes', Economic and Political Weekly, 31 (4), pp. 205-210.


  • Mawdsley, E. (2006) 'Using the World Wide Web for development research', in V. Desai and R. Potter (eds) Doing Development Research. London: Sage Publications.
  • Bracken, L.J. and Mawdsley, E. (2004) '"Muddy glee": Rounding out the picture of women and physical geography fieldwork', Area, 36 (3), pp. 280-6


  • Part IA Society, Environment and Development
  • Part IB Development Theory and Practice
  • Part II India
  • Part II Political Ecology in the Global South
  • MPhil Environment and Development

External activities

Membership and roles

  • Co-Editor, Territory, Politics, Governance
  • Editorial Board Member, The Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography
  • Editorial Board Member, The Geographical Journal
  • Chair (2006-2010) Developing Areas Research Group (Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers)
  • Fellow, Royal Geographical Society and Institute for British Geographers
  • Council Member, Royal Geographical Society
  • Council Member, Development Studies Association
  • Programme Board member of NORGLOBAL

Other interests and activities

  • I was a member of the Advisory Group on 'Global Perspectives in Higher Education', (2004-5). Sponsored by DFID and managed by the RGS.
  • In 2005-6 I worked with Mrs Sarah Lewis at St Joseph's (a primary school in Redhill, Surrey) on an Arts Council sponsored project encouraging creative thinking. We devised an environment and development project for Year 4 children, based around an interactive website looking at issues in St Lucia. Amongst other things, it was great fun. For more information, see