Professor David Lewis

Professor David Lewis

Professor of Social Policy and Development

Department of Social Policy

+44 (0)20 7955 6037
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Key Expertise
Development, NGOs, Civil Society, South Asia

About me

David Lewis is professor of social policy and development and was head of department 2013-16. His main research interests include international development policy, the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society in social and public policy, and rural development in the Global South. He has also worked on representations of development within works of fiction and film.

An anthropologist by training, he has undertaken regular fieldwork in Bangladesh since the 1980s and has longstanding interests in South Asia. He has also worked in Albania, India, Nepal, Nigeria, the Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka and Uganda.

He has advised Oxfam, Save the Children, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and many other development agencies. 

David Lewis is a Faculty Advisory Group member in the LSE South Asia Centre.

He is author of several books including  International Perspectives on Voluntary Action (1999), Development Brokers and Translators: The Ethnography of Aid and Agencies (2006, co-edited with D. Mosse), Bangladesh: Politics, Economy and Civil Society (2011), Non-Governmental Organizations, Management and Development (2014), Popular Representations of Development: Insights From Novels, Films, Television and Social Media, (co-edited with D. Rodgers and M. Woolcock), and Anthropology and Development: Challenges for the 21st Century (with K. Gardner, 2015).

He is currently working on a co-edited book (with D. Rodgers and M. Woolcock) called 'New Mediums, Better Messages? How Innovations in Translation, Engagement, and Advocacy are Changing International Development', Oxford University Press, 2021 forthcoming).

David Lewis is currently working on

- a project with the LSE Middle East Centre in collaboration with Birzeit University on-Re-Conceptualising Health in Wars and Conflicts: A New Focus on Deprivation and Suffering. Read more.

- a follow up study on governance, power and livelihoods in Bangladesh with Dr Abdul Hossain and commissioned by the Embassy of Sweden, Bangladesh. The original study from 2008. Listen to David Lewis talking about the work here.

- a second edited collection around popular representations of development with Dennis Rodgers and Michael Woolcock. The first book is reviewed here.

- a new book series, ‘NGOgraphies: ethnographic reflections on NGOs’ with Mark Schuller (University of Alabama Press). 

David's recent blog posts include:

On watching ‘Contagion’: what do we learn?- Read here

a report from a visit to Bangladesh's Rohingya refugee camps- Read here

a comment on the recent Oxfam safeguarding crisis- Read here

arguing for the need for more attention to be paid to rural poverty with Josefina Stubbs of the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD),  'Thriving rural communities is a recipe for healthy cities'.

David supervises doctoral studies in areas including:
The anthropology of policy particularly in relation to international development and social policy;
NGOs and civil society, particularly research projects using ethnographic approaches;
Qualitative approaches to researching poverty and poverty reduction in South and SE Asia;
Research on international development questions through the use of literature and film, drawing on approaches from the humanities. 

Expertise Details

International development; rural development; qualitative research; ethnography; NGOs; civil society; Bangladesh; Philippines; South Asia; multi-disciplinarity

My research