Ben is a human geographer, with a BA from the University of Oxford and an MSc from the University of Bristol. He spent a year as a Commonwealth Scholar in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia, Canada, before undertaking his PhD research in the Department of Geography at University College London.
Since completing his PhD studies in 2010, Ben has been based in the Development Policy and Practice Group at The Open University, first as a Research Fellow and currently as Lecturer in International Development.
Ben’s research interests are primarily in the fields of migration, development and African studies. He is particularly interested in the relationship between human mobility and development, especially in terms of how migrants and diaspora communities contribute to processes of change in their countries of residence and origin. He has explored this relationship principally in African contexts and has held a particular research interest in Nigeria since teaching at a university there in 2000. His MSc research examined the everyday practices of British colonial civil servants in Nigeria and his PhD research analysed the role of London-based Nigerian diaspora organisations in development in Nigeria.
Ben’s current work explores the nature and development outcomes of increased Chinese migration to Africa. This work builds on research conducted with Professor Giles Mohan on the 2-year ESRC-funded project ‘The social and political impacts of South-South migration: A comparative analysis of Chinese migrant integration in West Africa’. Focussing on case studies of Chinese migrants in Ghana and Nigeria, the work being developed from this project is centrally concerned with the social, political and economic impacts of the greater Chinese presence in Africa, particularly in terms of the challenges and opportunities it presents to African development.
Ben teaches on the Postgraduate Development Management Programme. Within this, he chairs the presentation of module T877 Development: context and practice and is part of the production team for the new module T878 Capacities for managing development.
Ben welcomes PhD research proposals in the fields of migration, development and African studies, particularly in relation to the development role of migrants and diasporas, the politics of development in Nigeria, and the implications of the ‘Rising Powers’ for African development.
Ben is currently supervising the following PhD students:
Daniel Amankona, ‘The Social and Environmental Impacts of Large Chinese Investment Projects in Africa: The Case of Ghana’ (with Prof. Giles Mohan and Dr. Kevin Collins)
Jamila Elhag Hassan, ‘Transnationalism of the Sudanese Diaspora in London’ (with Prof. Giles Mohan)
Chantal Radley, ‘The Chilean Diaspora and the Making of Chilean Development: UK-Based Chileans, Transnational Identities and Relationships to Home’ (with Prof. Giles Mohan and Dr. Parvati Raghuram)