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UK Africa Policy after Labour - ESRC Seminar Series

About the workshops

Africa occupies a special place in the history, foreign policy, self-image and public imagination of the UK. The end of the Cold War created space for new forms of and justifications for international engagement with African states. These were often based on different assumptions about the nature of challenges facing Africa and its states, and about the roles and strategies of international actors in resolving them. In the UK, this opportunity to redefine relations with Africa and tackle challenges of poverty, underdevelopment, chronic conflict and international marginalisation was largely taken up by Labour Governments (1997-2010).

This seminar series is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, through its Research Seminars Competition, and by contributions from host institutions and partners. It consists of seven meetings, held at partner institutions and organisations between January 2014 and January 2016. Reflecting the developments above, the aims of these seminars are threefold: to systematically examine the legacy of Labour's efforts to transform UK Africa policy and relations (1997-2010); to explore (dis)continuities between this period and the current coalition government; and to reflect on the implications of our findings, including emerging challenges and opportunities for UK Africa relations in terms of both research and policy.

The series has support from the Royal African Society, All Party Parliamentary Group on Africa and the British Institute in Eastern Africa. We aim to maximise exposure of the series and engagement with policymakers and non-academic audiences through the hosting of events at Chatham House and the Institute for Public Policy Research. The team of investigators and the speakers at the seminars are chosen to bring together scholars from Politics, Development, Political Economy, International Relations, History and Area Studies. The intention over the course of the series is to form a new network of scholars across these areas, bridging the divide between 'Africanists' and 'UK Policy researchers.' We will be prioritising early career researchers as both speakers and participants and have some limited funds available to facilitate their participation. The seminars are each hosted by a co-investigator or partner in the series, scheduled as follows:

  1. Contemporary UK-Africa relations in historical perspective
    Professor Graham Harrison and Dr Danielle Beswick. University of Sheffield, 21 January 2014.
  2. Development policy in a context of austerity & coalition
    Dr Danielle Beswick, University of Birmingham, 13 May 2014.
  3. Security, stability & conflict management in UK-Africa relations
    Professor David Anderson, University of Warwick, 28 October 2014.
  4. UK Africa Policy, the Prosperity Agenda and the 'Golden Thread': Between Idealism and Pragmatism?
    Elizabeth Donnelly, Chatham House, 23 March 2015.
  5. Trade in UK-Africa relations
    Dr Stephen Hurt, Oxford Brookes University, 1 July 2015.
  6. Africa and the UK Public Imagination
    Professor Graham Harrison and Dr Jonathan Fisher, Royal African Society, 20 January 2016.
  7. African Agency & UK Africa relations    
    Dr Danielle Beswick. British Institute in Eastern Africa, Nairobi. June 2016.

Call for abstracts

UK Africa Policy after Labour: Coalition, Austerity, Continuity and Change


For more information or to offer a paper presentation based on your research please contact Jonathan Fisher. The Principal Investigator for the Series - Danielle Beswick - is currently on maternity leave until December 2015.

Follow the series via twitter, with live tweeting from seminars: @UKAfricaSeminar

BISA Africa and International Studies Working Group