Three GDI academics receive prestigious Hallsworth and Leverhulme fellowships

The researchers were awarded the Hallsworth Research Fellowship, Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship and Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship

Dr Elisa Gambino was the recipient of the Hallsworth Research Fellowship. The three-year fellowship will begin in January 2024 and will explore "African hubs, Chinese trade, and global circulation in West Africa".

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The project focuses on the networks of Chinese companies and entrepreneurs increasingly engaged in cross-border exchanges in West Africa. Chinese privately-owned businesses are seemingly ubiquitous in Africa. Yet, most research examines how large-scale, often state-driven, commercial mega-projects shape Africa’s development trajectories.


Her study will take a new approach, investigating more diffuse, smaller-scale patterns of investment and the entrepreneurial networks driving it. Deploying a mixed-method strategy combining survey, interview, and ethnographic data, it analyses how the internationalisation of Chinese private capital and the attendant proliferation of transnational trade networks are reshaping regional integration in West Africa. By providing a fuller account of Chinese outward engagement, the project contributes to wider political economy debates about how its rising power is reconfiguring economic globalisation.

Dr Smith Ouma, currently a post-doctoral researcher on the African Cities Research Consortium, was awarded a 36 month Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship. His project will be on Data Justice land struggles and right to the city in the global North and South.

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In Nairobi and Manchester, marginalised urban communities and social movements are challenging established asymmetries in land information by constructing their own registers of land ownership. These insurgent land registers are fundamentally political projects that seek to contest the commodification and financialisation of urban land. My comparative project will examine the methodologies employed by social movements in the two cities to document urban land ownership. In the process, it will reveal the commonalities, differences and interconnections that shape land struggles in the global North and South.

Findings from the project will also facilitate the development of frameworks that movements can employ in engaging with formal actors and contribute to scholarly literature in the field of data justice and the politics of urban land. Ultimately, the project will elevate the creative elements of marginalised urban dwellers’ local and transnational interactions and highlight how these incrementally aid in their construction of place.


Professor Stephanie Barrientos has been awarded the Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship for two years (October 2023-2025) to work on a book on Fairer Trade in Global Value Chains. The award is in addition to her Emeritus Professorship at the University of Manchester. Below is an abstract from her forthcoming publication: Fairer Trade in Global Value Chains: Does it Work?

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Fairer and ethical trade initiatives have proliferated in Europe and North America. Some question whether they really benefit millions of wage workers and small-scale producers (especially women) producing for retail global value chains (GVC) in lower-income countries?

This Fellowship updates 25 years of research to produce a ’gold open access’ book on the evolution and contemporary challenges facing fairer trade. It critically examines: diverse voluntary approaches to fairer trade (codes of labour practice and labels); are they sufficiently robust to withstand
commercial GVC pressures; and whether greater legislative oversight could enhance outcomes for small-scale producers and workers in GVCs?