Dr Rachel Victoria Cooper

Dr Rachel Victoria Cooper

International Development Department
Research Fellow

Contact details

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

Rachel is a political scientist with over 10 years of experience in the international development sector. Rachel joined GSDRC as a Research Fellow in 2018. 


Research Fellow, GSDRC:

  • PhD in Politics 2011
  • MA in Politics (Research) 2006
  • MA in International Studies 2004
  • BA (Hons.) in Politics and Philosophy 2003


Rachel completed her ESRC funded PhD at Newcastle University in 2011. Her doctoral research examined hydropower development in the lower Mekong, employing a theoretical framework combining political ecology and critical international relations theories to examine the actors and narratives promoting and contesting large mainstream dams.

Rachel’s career to date has focused on water resources development in both southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Rachel worked for the Mekong River Commission Secretariat in 2007-2008 and spent 4 years as a Fundraising and Communications Officer for a UK NGO working in Zambia and Mozambique.

In 2016-17 Rachel was an Alberman Postdoctoral Fellow in Middle East water issues in the Department of Geography at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.


Research interests

  • Water politics, particularly in the Mekong River Basin
  • The politics of large infrastructure development
  • Political ecology
  • Development and environment narratives and framing of environmental issues


Cooper, R. (2012), "The potential of the Mekong River Commission to pursue IWRM in the Mekong: trade-offs and public participation"., In: Öjendal, J., Hansson, S. and Hellberg, S. ,(eds.) . Water, Politics and Development in a Transboundary Watershed: the Case of the Lower Mekong Basin., Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, pp. 61-82

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