Justin Williams

Justin WilliamsExploring the effects of a development intervention: the Merhabete Integrated Rural Development Project, Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Supervisors: Dr Jonathan Fisher and Dr Claire McLoughlin

Justin Williams’ research is an enquiry into the effects of a single development intervention: the Merhabete Integrated Rural Development Project, implemented by the German NGO Menschen für Menschen in Merhabete district of Amhara Region, Ethiopia, from 1988-2009. The research uses methods of oral history, triangulating different sources (written and oral) to assess the benefits of the project for different individuals and groups including farmers, daily labourers, carpenters and masons, government officials, NGO staff, security guards, cleaners and drivers. He investigates a range of different kinds of effects of the intervention, including transfer of financial and material resources, employment practices, and the effects of the intervention on strengthening or undermining local government.


Justin’s academic background is in Development Studies, History and English Literature. Since 2003 he has worked at the UK Department for International Development (DFID), now integrated into the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). He has spent time working in Damascus, Syria, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia but now lives in London.


  • MSc, Development Studies, London School of Economics
  • BA (Hons), English Language and Literature, Oxford University

Research interests

  • Development Aid
  • Oral history
  • History of Development
  • Development Politics
  • Development Theory
  • Causation in International Relations
  • Actor-Network-Theory in studies of Development

Teaching Responsibilities

  • Development Politics


  • Williams, Justin (2020), ‘The "Ethnographic Turn" in Peacebuilding: Emancipation, Emotion, and Ethics', Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 14(3), pp 459-463.

Conference Papers

  • Africa Studies Association 2020 (Washington DC/ online): ‘Entrenching the State or a Rival Source of Power? Power Relations in a Rural Development Project in Ethiopia, 1988-2009’
  • European Conference on African Studies 2019 (Edinburgh): ‘Studying a rural development project in Ethiopia in the 1990s and early 2000s: the value of historical methods’

Contact details:

Email: jxw1023@student.bham.ac.uk