Claire Mercer

Associate Professor of Human Geography

Department of Geography and Environment


Tel: [+44] (0)20 7107 5352

Room: STC 4.18|, St Clement's Building, LSE

Claire joined the Department of Geography and Environment in 2009, having previously held lectureships in Human Geography at the universities of Leicester and Swansea. She completed her PhD in Human Geography at the University of Liverpool.

Working at the interface of Human Geography, African Studies and Development Studies, Claire has developed a geographical critique of the concept of civil society that has confronted assumptions about the spatiality and the ‘makeability’ of African civil society. Drawing on ideas from postcolonial studies her research seeks to recast the discussion of civil society in Africa in terms that emphasize the diverse social and political work done by civil society actors such as NGOs and home associations.

Claire’s most recent research has been concerned with the relationship between the African diaspora and the African continent. This research places Africa at the centre of questions about diaspora. She recently completed a four-year ESRC-funded research project, graded ‘outstanding’, which examined the development work undertaken in Africa by diaspora communities in Britain. This involved a study of four transnational home associations from Cameroon and Tanzania (with Ben Page, UCL; and Martin Evans, University of Chester). The book based on the project, Development and the African diaspora: place and the politics of home is published by Zed Books.

Claire is currently working on a new research project on the middle classes, domestic architecture and suburban space in Tanzania.

Claire is an Editor of the Review of African Political Economy. She is also a member of the Advisory Board for Critical African Studies, and an Editorial Board Member of the Development Geography Section for Geography COMPASS.


  • Diaspora and migration
  • Domestic architecture and material culture in Africa
  • African middle classes 
  • The politics of development and civil society in Africa, and Tanzania in particular

Selected recent publications:


  • Mercer, C. (2014) 'Middle class construction: domestic architecture, aesthetics and anxieties in Tanzania', The Journal of Modern African Studies, 52 (2), pp. 227-250,
  • Mercer, C. and Green, M. (2013) ‘Making civil society work: contracting, cosmopolitanism and community development in Tanzania’, Geoforum, 45, pp. 106-115 
  • Green, M., Kothari, U., Mercer, C. and Mitlin, D. (2012) ‘Saving, spending and future-making: time, discipline and money in development’, Environment and Planning A, 44, 7, pp. 1641-1656
  • Green, M., Mercer, C. and Mesaki S. (2012) ‘Faith in forms: civil society evangelism and development in Tanzania’, Development In Practice, 22, 5-6, pp. 721-734 
  • Mercer, C. (2012) ‘The privatization of aid?’ Review of African Political Economy, 131, pp. 145-147
  • Page, B. and Mercer, C. (2012) ‘Why do people do stuff? Reconceptualizing remittance behaviour in diaspora-development research and policy’, Progress in Development Studies, 12, 1, pp. 1-18
  • Jennings, M. and Mercer, C (2011) 'Rehabilitating nationalisms: conviviality and national consciousness in postcolonial Tanzania', Politique Africaine, 121, pp. 87-106 (pdf)
  • Page, B. and Mercer, C (2010) 'Diasporas and Development', in K. Knott and S. McLoughlin (eds) Diasporas: concepts, intersections, identities, Zed, London, pp.102-106
  • Mercer, C. & Page, B. (2010) 'African home associations in Britain: between political belonging and moral conviviality', African Diaspora, 3, 1, pp. 111-131 
  • Page, B., Evans, M., & Mercer, C (2010) 'Revisiting the politics of belonging in Cameroon', Africa, 80, 3, pp. 345-370
  • Page, B., Mercer, C., & Evans M (2009) 'African transnationalisms and diaspora networks: an introduction' Global Networks 9, 2, pp. 137-140
  • Mercer C, Page, B and Evans M (2009) 'Unsettling connections: transnational networks, development and African home associations', Global Networks, 9, 2, pp. 141-161




Claire Mercer
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