Dr Jonathan Fisher

Dr Jonathan Fisher

International Development Department
Senior Lecturer in African Politics
Academic Director of the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre (GSDRC)

Contact details

Address
International Development Department
School of Government and Society
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham,
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Jonathan's research is focused on the place and agency of African states in the international system, particularly in the realm of security and conflict. Within this he is interested in the role played by African governments in shaping how they are perceived and engaged with by Western actors. He has a particular interest in eastern Africa and the influence of guerrilla heritage on contemporary patterns of governance, conflict and cooperation across the region and is currently co-leading a Newton Fund project on this theme. He is also interested in how 'knowledge' on African security and conflict is negotiated and constructed in a range of settings and is currently leading two Research Council-funded projects on this topic.

Since 2017, Jonathan has been Academic Director of the GSDRC (http://www.gsdrc.org/) and co-editor, with Professor Paul Jackson, of Civil Wars. In 2015, Jonathan was awarded the SCOPUS (Elsevier/US-UK Fulbright Commission) Young Researcher of the Year (Social Sciences). More information can be found at https://www.elsevier.com/awards/europe/early-career-researcher-uk-awards-2015.

Qualifications

  • DPhil in International Relations, University of Oxford 2011
  • MSc in African Studies, University of Oxford 2007
  • BA (Hons) History, University College London (UCL) 2006

Biography

Jonathan joined IDD in 2011 as an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow shortly after completing his doctorate at the University of Oxford. His (ESRC-funded) DPhil focused on the relationship between the Ugandan government and its international aid donors between 1986-2010. He became a Lecturer in 2012 and a Senior Lecturer in 2015 and his research has been funded by the AHRC, ESRC, Newton Fund, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Royal Netherlands Embassy, Kampala and the Deepening Democracy Programme, Kampala. He regularly undertakes fieldwork in eastern Africa and has experience working in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Djibouti.

He is currently leading an ESRC-funded project on the production of knowledge in conflict zones (www.birmingham.ac.uk/from-data-to-knowledge) and an AHRC-funded project on indigenous narratives of insecurity in African borderlands (with Dr Cherry Leonardi, University of Durham) (http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/government-society/departments/international-development/research/projects/2016/exploring-alternative-discourses-insecurity.aspx). Both projects will run between 2016-2018. Between 2016-2019 he will also be leading a Newton Fund project on the memorialisation of liberation struggle in South Africa and Uganda with Dr Stephanie Cawood of the University of the Free State (http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/government-society/departments/international-development/research/projects/2016/dynamics-memory-space-power-post-liberation-africa.aspx).

In 2015, Jonathan was awarded the SCOPUS (Elsevier/US-UK Fulbright Commission) Young Researcher of the Year (Social Sciences). More information can be found at https://www.elsevier.com/awards/europe/early-career-researcher-uk-awards-2015

Teaching

Jonathan has previously convened postgraduate modules on Aid Management, Aid Policy and Politics, Critical Approaches to Development, Conflict in Developing Countries (on campus and distance-learning) and War Torn States and Post-Conflict Reconstruction in the South, a 3rd year undergraduate module in POLSIS.

During the 2017-2018 academic year, he will be co-convene Development Politics (with Professor Nic Cheeseman) and will continue to lead Birmingham’s participation in a U21 intensive module on Security and Development in South Asia, held at the University of Delhi in the Spring Term.

Postgraduate supervision

Jonathan welcomes new PhD applications in the areas of: Regional conflict and security in Africa Knowledge production and conflict 'Post-Liberation' states in Eastern Africa and the wider politics of the region OECD-DAC and Non-OECD-DAC Donors and the international politics of aid

Jonathan is currently working with the following PhD candidates:

  • Rubens Duarte (2014-) The UK and Brazil in the developmental regime (with Dr Marco Vieira, POLSIS)
  • Samara Dantas Palmeira Guimarães (2015-) Statebuilding and traditional justice in Mozambique (with Dr Nicolas Lemay-Hebert, IDD)
  • Mann Virdee (2015-) Mapping the internal and external factors shaping UK political parties' debates and discourses on international development, 1997-2015 (with Dr Danielle Beswick, IDD)
  • Arie Ruhyanto (2015-) Statebuilding through territorial reform: Pemekaran and state-society relations in Papua province of Indonesia (with Dr Nicolas Lemay-Hebert, IDD)
  • Shalle Abdi (2016-) Pastoral conflicts in the Horn of Africa (with Professor Stefan Wolff, POLSIS)
  • Justin Williams (2017-) The effects of Food-for-Work programmes in Ethiopia in the 1980s and 1990s (with Dr Nicolas Lemay-Hebert, IDD)
  • Nicola Heaton (2017-) More donors, more choice? "Traditional" donors, "New" donors and African agency: The case of Tanzania (with Dr Danielle Beswick, IDD)

Research

Research Interests

  • The politics of aid, security and donor-recipient relations
  • 'Knowledge construction' and epistemology in conflict settings
  • East African politics and diplomacy
  • Regime sociologies and regional security in Eastern Africa

Research activity

Jonathan is currently leading an ESRC-funded project on the production of knowledge in conflict zones and an AHRC-funded project on indigenous narratives of insecurity in African borderlands (with Dr Cherry Leonardi, University of Durham). Both projects will run between 2016-2018. Between 2016-2019 he will also be leading a Newton Fund project on the memorialisation of liberation struggle in South Africa and Uganda with Dr Stephanie Cawood of the University of the Free State.

Other activities

Jonathan co-edits the journal Civil Wars with Professor Paul Jackson and has been Academic Director of the GSDRC (www.gsdrc.org) since 2017. He has previously served as Head of IDD and as IDD Director of PGT Admissions. Jonathan is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Africa Studies at the University of the Free State, South Africa, and has previously been a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Ethiopia (2015) and an Honorary Research Fellow in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Africa Research Group (2013-2014).

Publications

MONOGRAPH UNDER CONTRACT:

(with DM Anderson) (forthcoming, 2018). Africa’s New Authoritarians: Aid, Securitisation and Statebuilding (C Hurst & Co and Oxford University Press, London and New York)

ARTICLES IN PEER-REVIEWED JOURNALS SINCE 2014:

Fisher, J (2017). 'Reproducing Remoteness? States, Internationals and the Co-Constitution of Aid 'Bunkerization' in the East African Periphery', Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 11 (1): 98-119. (Available (open access) at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17502977.2016.1260209)

Fisher, J and Marquette, H (2016). "Empowered Patient" or "Doctor Knows Best"? Political Economy Analysis and Ownership", Development in Practice, 26 (1): 115-126.

Fisher, J (2015). ‘Writing about Rwanda since the Genocide: Knowledge, Power and “Truth”, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 9 (1): 134-145

Fisher, J (2015). “Does it work?” Work for whom? Britain and Political Conditionality since the Cold War’, World Development, 75 (November 2015): 13-25 (doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2014.12.005)

Fisher, J and Anderson, DM (2015). ‘Authoritarianism and the securitization of development in Africa’, International Affairs, 91 (1): 131-151 (https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/files/chathamhouse/field/field_publication_docs/INTA91_1_08_Fisher_Anderson_0.pdf).

Fisher, J (2014) 'Uganda's war, Obama's advisers and the nature of 'influence' in Western foreign policy-making', Third World Quarterly, 35 (4): 686-704

Fisher, J (2014) 'When it pays to be a "fragile state": Uganda's use and abuse of a dubious concept', Third World Quarterly, 35 (2): 316-332

ARTICLES IN PEER-REVIEWED JOURNALS pre- 2014:

Fisher, J (2013) 'Structure, agency and Africa in the international system: Donor diplomacy and regional security policy in East Africa since the 1990s', Conflict, Security and Development, 13 (5): 537-568

Fisher, J (2013) 'The limits - and limiters - of external influence: Donors, the Ugandan Electoral Commission and the 2011 elections', Journal of Eastern African Studies, 7 (3): 471-491

Fisher, J (2013) "Some more reliable than others": Image management, donor perceptions and the Global War on Terror in East African diplomacy', Journal of Modern African Studies, 51 (1): 1-31

Fisher, J (2012) . ‘Managing perceptions and securing agency: Contextualizing Uganda’s 2007 intervention in Somalia’, African Affairs, 111 (444): 404-423

BOOK CHAPTERS:

Fisher, J and Beswick, D (2017) "The African State and Special Procedures: Agency, Leverage and Legitimacy", in Aoife Nolan, Rosa Freedman and Therese Murphy (eds), The United Nations Special Procedures System (The Hague: Brill/Martinus Nijhoff, 2017)

Fisher, J and Anderson, DM (2016) "Authoritarianism and the Securitization of Development in Uganda" (with David M Anderson), in Tobias Hagmann and Filip Reyntjens (eds), Aid and Authoritarianism in Africa: Development without Democracy (London and Chicago, IL: Zed Books and University of Chicago Press, 2016)

Fisher, J (2015) "Image management" in East Africa: Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and their donors', in Julia Gallagher (ed): Image and Africa: Creation, negotiation, subversion (Manchester University Press, Manchester)

Fisher, J (2014) ‘The limits – and limiters – of external influence: The role of international donors in Uganda’s 2011 election’, in Sandrine Perrot, Sabiti Makara and Jerome Lafargue (eds): Uganda’s 2011 Multiparty Elections: Towards a Consolidated Democracy? (Fountain Publishers, Kampala)

Fisher, J (2013) 'Image management and African agency: Ugandan regional diplomacy and donor relations under Museveni', in William Brown and Sophie Harman (eds), African Agency in International Politics (Routledge, London: 2013)