Ellie Gore

Between HIV prevention and LGBT rights: an ethnographic study of political organising among sasoi in Accra, Ghana

Supervisors: Martin Rew and Emma Foster

My doctoral research is based on a 13-month ethnographic study of political organising among sasoi, or queer men, in Ghana. Using poststructuralist and Marxist theory, the study examines development initiatives on HIV and LGBT rights in the capital city of Accra. Ethnographic material is derived from participant observation in two primary research sites, an LGBT rights/sexual health CBO and a human rights NGO. It also comprises narrative biographic interviews with saso activists, unstructured group interviews, and semi-structured interviews with NGO advocates. This material is used to delimit the contours and character of queer political organising in Accra, in terms of both organisational activism and more grassroots forms of mobilisation. The study also explores the lived experiences of working class saso activists, highlighting how power dynamics arising from a wider political economy of development, coupled with the intersection of class and sexuality, mediate rights-based development interventions in this context.


I am an ESRC-funded doctoral candidate in the International Development Department. My research is situated at the interface between sexuality, gender, and development studies. I am particularly interested in concepts of 'Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender' (LGBT) rights within development theory and practice, and with examining how rights-based approaches to sexuality work in different political and socio-cultural contexts. Prior to joining IDD, I spent two years working in human rights advocacy for an NGO in northern Ghana.


  • PG Cert Advanced Research Methods, University of Birmingham, 2015
  • MSc International Development, University of Birmingham, 2012
  • BA (Hons) History and French, University of Leeds, 2006

Research interests

  • Gender, sexuality, and development
  • Queer sexualities in Africa
  • HIV and sexual rights
  • Queer theory
  • The anthropology of development
  • Feminist research methodologies
  • Ghana

Teaching responsibilities

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant, IDD 07 22024, Critical Approaches to Development, International Development Department

Professional memberships

  • African Studies Association

Conference papers

Co-convener and panel moderator, ‘Same-sex sexualities and intimacies in contemporary Africa: Resistance and Change’, European Conference on African Studies, Paris, July 2015

‘Researching sex and sexualities: Some reflections from research in Ghana’, Researching Sex and Sexualities Conference, University of Sussex, May 2015

Panel convenor and presenter, ‘Queer Sexualities in Contemporary Africa’. Paper title: ‘Whose activism counts? LGBT rights and queer community organising in Accra, Ghana’. City University New York, April 2015

‘”To hell with them”? Aid conditionality, LGBT rights and the politics of homosexuality in Ghana’, Critical Debates in Development Conference, University of Sussex, June 2013

‘On sexuality as a ‘development issue’: early findings from fieldwork in Ghana’, ROLES Conference, University of Birmingham, May 2013


Email: exg151@bham.ac.uk