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Deborah Fahy Bryceson


My work has been grounded in studying the transformation of social and economic life from agrarian to more urban-based livelihood, settlement and mobility patterns. This has involved analysis of people’s work and leisure time pursuits with emphasis on the nature of economic transactions, spatial decision-making and social relations embedded in households, states, markets and community networks. While my main focus has been on Sub-Saharan Africa, I have engaged in comparative research, juxtaposing African case study material with that of Asia, Latin America and Europe. In tracing change, I have been sensitive to gender, age and class differences and have tended to focus on contexts in which people contend with basic threats, e.g. famine, AIDS and under-employment. I have engaged in academic as well as policy-oriented research. My research can be delineated into three main thematic areas:


• Spatial economic studies concerned with livelihood, mobility and settlement in processes of transition including the study of poverty, deagrarianization, occupational change, urbanization, urban economies and mobility patterns of the poor. I coordinated a large collaborative programme on deagrarianization and rural livelihoods with research teams in various African countries between 1996 and 2001 and a research programme on urban growth and poverty in mining Africa (UPIMA) funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Department of International Development (DfID) as well as related research consultancy.

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• Political economy analysis of agrarian change centred on rural social and economic development, notably: food marketing, agricultural policy, food supply, famine prevention and rehabilitation, rural transport and the impact of public investment on rural welfare. I studied the impact of HIV/AIDS on rural communities in Malawi.


• Social studies focused on evolving social dynamics and institutions notably transnational families, women's expanding employment in rural and urban areas, and the burgeoning of alcohol production and consumption patterns. I am presently concerned with the ramifications of Covid-19 for transnational families.


D. Phil. Sociology, University of Oxford, UK.

MA. Geography, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

BA. Geography. University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Languages: English, Kiswahili, Dutch (reading)



University Associateships

2016-now  Professorial Research Associate, Nordic Africa Institute, University of Uppsala, Sweden


1988-2019  International Gender Studies Centre, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University                        


2005-2013  African Studies Centre, St. Antony’s College, Oxford University


2005-2008  Geography Institute, Copenhagen University


1982-1984  Food Studies Group, Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford University

Academic Ratings      Public mentions 6233;  All time views 44,892;  833 followers; 15 co-authors  (24 July, 2022)


Google Scholar    H-index 48;  i10H-index 114;  Citations 12,204  (24 July, 2022) 


Research Gate      H index 34;  Citations 4510;  Research interest 2912  (24 July, 2022)


Web of Science    H-index 19;  Citations 1519;  Citations per item 22.01 (24 July, 2022)

Research consultancy

Principal in The Policy Practice, Brighton, UK (2005-now) specialized in political economy analysis,

Consultancy assignments for:  ILO, FAO, UNCTAD, UNICEF, UNRISD, United Nations University, United Nations Women, World Bank, DfID, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DANIDA, CARE International, and the Tanzanian government.



Professor, Honorary Fellow, Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K. (2014-now)


Reader, School of Geographical & Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, Scotland, U.K. (2009-2013)


Senior Lecturer, International Development Department, School of Public Policy University of Birmingham, U.K. (2002-2003) 


Senior Research Fellow, Afrika Studiecentrum, Leiden, The Netherlands (1992-2005) 


Lecturer, Graduate Department of Planning, Architectural Association School of Architecture London (1982-85) 


Research Fellow, Bureau of Resource Assessment and Land Use Planning (BRALUP), University of Dar es Salaam, now Institute of Resource Assessment (1976-1981)

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