Dr Jonathan Fisher

Dr Jonathan Fisher

International Development Department
Senior Lecturer in African Politics

Contact details

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. He is also interested in how 'knowledge' on African security and conflict is negotiated and constructed in a range of settings.


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


Jonathan joined IDD in 2011 as an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow shortly after completing his doctorate at the University of Oxford. His (ESTRC-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 has undertaken research for 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 Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi and Djibouti.


Jonathan co-convenes (with Dr Phil Amis) postgraduate modules on Aid Politics and Policy and (with Dr Martin Rew) on Critical Approaches to Development.

From Winter Term 2015, he will be convening modules on Conflict in Developing Countries and War Torn States and Post-Conflict Reconstruction in the South, a 3rd year undergraduate module in POLSIS.

Postgraduate supervision

Jonathan welcomes new PhD applications in the areas of:

  • Regional conflict and security in Africa
  • OECD-DAC and Non-OECD-DAC Donors and the international politics of aid
  • 'Post-Liberation' states in Eastern Africa and the wider politics of the region 

Jonathan is currently working with the following PhD candidates:

  • Ebenezer Akwanga (2013-), Guerrilla-style governance in South Sudan: A challenge to statebuilding (with Professor Paul Jackson, IDD)
  • Rubens Duarte (2014-), The UK and Brazil in the developmental regime (with Dr Marco Vieira, POLSIS)
  • Samara Guimaraes (2015-), The UN and hybridity in South Sudan (with Dr Nicolas Lemay-Hebert, IDD)


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

Other activities

Between January 2013-January 2014, Jonathan held an Honorary Research Fellowship in the Africa Directorate of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In October 2015, Jonathan will undertake a brief fellowship at the Institute for Security Studies, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Since April 2014, Jonathan has been the Admissions Tutor for IDD.



(with DM Anderson) (forthcoming, 2016). Africa’s New Authoritarians: Aid, Securitisation and Statebulding (C Hurst & Co and Oxford University Press, London and New York)



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, in press, available online since January 2015: 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

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

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



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)