Dr Lynne Brydon MA, PhD (Cantab)

Photograph of Dr Lynne Brydon

Department of African Studies and Anthropology
Senior Honorary Research Fellow

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Research and teaching in the interdisciplinary environment that is the Department of African Studies and Anthropology has been one of the most rewarding and challenging phases in my life: rewarding as this kind of work pushes me to join up the dots, to make connections across disciplines and sets of ideas, and challenging because this kind of fluidity and opportunity is a square peg in the round hole of discipline driven academic categories.


After a year reading Natural Sciences at Cambridge (New Hall), Lynne switched programmes to Social Anthropology and graduated in 1971. She taught Chemistry and Maths in a secondary school in Ghana with VSO for a year and then was awarded the Wyse Studentship in Social Anthropology and returned to Cambridge for a PhD. After 16 months’ fieldwork in Ghana and some statistical analysis in the prehistoric days of computers (punching cards and feeding them in to a reader), her degree was awarded in the Summer of 1976. She was Junior Research Fellow at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (1975-77), Lecturer in Social Anthropology in Liverpool and joined CWAS in January 1996.

She became Senior Lecturer in 1998, and since then has taught, researched and held a wide range of administrative posts in the University and is currently Head of the School of History and Cultures.  As Director of DASA (formerly CWAS) in 2007-8 she steered DASA into membership of the Africa-Europe Group for Interdisciplinary Studies (AEGIS), the European umbrella group for African Studies. When Birmingham re-organised in 2008 Lynne became Head of the School of History and Cultures. She is currently a Senior Honorary Research Fellow.


While gender has long been (and continues to be) a significant focus in Lynne Brydon’s work, she has also researched changing family structures, migration, both intra- and inter- national, and, more generally, development issues, as well as working on the detailed historicised ethnography of the Avatime people of Ghana’s Volta Region. Her current book mss is a detailed historicised ethnography and is based on her long term work in Avatime, bringing the focus to the twenty-first century and to currently debated issues such as poverty and inequality.  She has received research funding, over the years, from SSRC/ ESRC, the University of Liverpool, the British Academy and the Nuffield Foundation and the University of Birmingham. She was the senior partner in a Nuffield funded ‘New Career Development Fellowship’ (with  Kate Skinner) from 2003-08, working on the histories, practices and effectiveness of adult education programmes in Ghana, with particular emphasis on their relationship to the development of civil society and sustainable democracy. She has participated in a range of consultancy and ngo funded projects over the years.

Other activities

During the 1990s Lynne co-ordinated two Higher Education Links (funded by the British Council) with Universities in Ghana and Sierra Leone, respectively.  These led to the inauguration of two new MA courses on gender issues in Ghana and Sierra Leone and encompassed significant capacity building in terms of staff facilitation and training.  She chaired the ‘Links’ Gender and Development group for 3 years until its demise in 2005, and was a member of the HE Links Steering Group.

She was co-editor of Ghana Studies, the Ghana journal of the US African Studies Association from 2003-2009, and a member of the editorial working group of the Review of African Political Economy from the mid-1990s until 2008.  She is also currently the Treasurer of the African Studies Association of the UK, and is the convenor of the 2011 Cadbury Fellows’ Workshop and Conference on the theme of Gender Inequalities in Africa in the C21.



  • (with Karen Legge) Adjusting Society: The World Bank, the IMF and Ghana, I.B.Tauris, 1996
  • (with Sylvia Chant) Women in the Third World: Gender Issues in Rural and Urban Areas, Edward Elgar/ Rutgers UP, 1989 (reprint 1993)

Journal articles

  • "Constructing Avatime: Questions of History and Identity in a West African Polity, c 1690s to the Twentieth Century", Journal of African History, 49 (2008): 23-42 .
  • "Slavery and Labour in West Africa", Review of African Political Economy, 28, Issue 87, pp 137-41 (2001). 
  • ‘With a Little Bit of Luck….  Coping with Adjustment in Urban Ghana, 1975-90,Africa, 69 (3) (1999), 366 - 85.

Chapters in books

  • ‘Post-Adjustment, Post-Mitigation, Post-Poverty: The Feminisation of Family Responsibility in Ghana,’ in International Handbook on Gender and Poverty, (ed) Sylvia Chant, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, 2010.
  • "After Slavery, what next? Productive relations in early twentieth century Krepe, and beyond," in The Changing Worlds of Atlantic Africa, (ed) Toyin Falola and Matt C. Childs, (Durham, N.C., Carolina Academic Press), 479-95. (2009) 
  •  "Gender and Adjustment", in The Companion to Development Studies (eds) Vandana Desai and Rob Potter Arnold (7pp) 2008  

View all publications in research portal