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David Harris

Senior Lecturer in African Studies

Faculty/Dept/School School of Social Sciences
(Faculty of Management, Law and Social Sciences)
Telephone +441274 235161


Dr David Harris specialises in West African politics, in particular in Sierra Leone and Liberia, but also in The Gambia and Ghana. His first book was published by IB Tauris in 2011; and a second book, Sierra Leone: A Political History, came out through Hurst in 2013 and will emerge in an updated second edition in 2020. Professor Will Reno wrote, ‘David Harris provides an insightful and nuanced focus on the deep history of governance in Sierra Leone — but his imaginative analyses are applicable well beyond that country alone’. Articles on several elections over the last two and a half decades in both Liberia and Sierra Leone have been published. Most recently, a co-authored article on the 2017 Liberian elections came out in 2020. Another strand of collaborative research has led to book chapters on India-Africa relations and an article in 2018 on India-Ghana relations. The authors secured a £50,000 grant in 2020 to undertake more research. A co-written article on fluctuating government-donor relations in Sierra Leone came out in 2020, and a collaborative pedagogical piece on the University of Bradford's Africa Study Visit emerged in 2016. Formerly at the School of Oriental and African Studies, he became Lecturer in African Studies at the University of Bradford in 2013, Director of JEFCAS in 2018, and Senior Lecturer in 2019. He teaches African and comparative politics and has also taught courses at King’s College, London, University of Nottingham, London Metropolitan University and the Instituto Rio Branco in Brasilia. He has worked on numerous election monitoring missions in Liberia and Sierra Leone for the Carter Center and NDI. He has also undertaken work for various European government departments and NGOs, and written media pieces for Channel 4 and Fair Observer and African Arguments. He is a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Sierra Leone Studies and External Examiner at King's College London.


Past research has focused on the intersection between conflict and elections, taking in the politics of rebel parties and post-conflict justice, in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Interest in elections in these two countries continues. More recent work has had two collaborative strands. One strand contains research into post-conflict state re-building, focusing on decentralisation and public sector reform, and the perceptions of donor staff and Sierra Leoneans of the successes and failures and the notion of social change. Government-donor relations in general in Africa are another source of interest. The second strand looks at the burgeoning presence of India in Africa and the rhetoric and politics that surround this involvement in Delhi and in African capitals. Collaborations with Simona Vittorini and Maria Ambrozy (both SOAS), Felix Marco Conteh and Luisa Enria (both Bath), Robtel Pailey (Oxford), and Richard Lappin (Leuven/OECD).


Peer Reviewed Journal
Title“We don’t know who be who”: post-party politics, forum shopping and Liberia’s 2017 elections (2020)
AuthorsPailey R.N.;Harris D.
TitleGovernment-donor relations in Sierra Leone: Who is in the driving seat? (2020)
AuthorsHarris D.;Conteh F.M.
JournalJournal of Modern African Studies
TitleGovernment-donor relations in Sierra Leone: who is in the driving seat? (2020)
AuthorsHarris, David; Conteh, F.M.
Title"We Don't Know Who Be Who": Post-party Politics, Forum Shopping and Liberia's 2017 Elections (2020)
AuthorsDavid Harris; Robtel Neajai Pailey
TitleTaking ‘development cooperation’ and South–South discourse seriously: Indian claims and Ghanaian responses (2018)
AuthorsHarris D.;Vittorini S.
JournalCommonwealth and Comparative Politics
TitleLiberia’s run-up to 2017: continuity and change in a long history of electoral politics (2017)
AuthorsPailey R.;Harris D.
JournalReview of African Political Economy
TitleLearning in the Palaver Hut: The ‘Africa Study Visit’ as teaching tool. (2016)
AuthorsAmbrozy, M.; Harris, David
TitleSwings and roundabouts: the vagaries of democratic consolidation and ‘electoral rituals’ in Sierra Leone (2014)
AuthorsConteh, F.M.; Harris, David
TitleLiberia in 2011: Still Ploughing its own Democratic Furrow? (2013)
AuthorsHarris, David; Lewis, T.
TitleThe Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Reconciling or Re-dividing Liberia? (2010)
AuthorsDavid Harris and Richard Lappin
TitleLiberia 2005: an Unusual African Post-conflict Election (2006)
AuthorsDavid Harris
JournalJournal of Modern African Studies
TitleFrom ‘Warlord’ to ‘Democratic’ President: how Charles Taylor Won the 1997 Liberian Elections (1999)
AuthorsDavid Harris
JournalJournal of Modern African Studies