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Dr David Harris

Associate Professor

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 first in 2013 and then 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, Fair Observer and African Arguments. He is a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Sierra Leone Studies and was recently 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 three collaborative strands. One strand contains research into post-conflict state re-building, in particular the perceptions of donor staff and Sierra Leoneans of the successes and failures and the relationships involved. The second strand looks at the burgeoning presence of India in West Africa, particularly in Ghana, Senegal and The Gambia, and the rhetoric and politics that surround this presence in New Delhi and in African capitals. A third and very recent strand looks at the politics of the 'small state' in The Gambia. Collaborators are Simona Vittorini and Maria Ambrozy (both SOAS), Felix Marco Conteh, Luisa Enria (LSHTM), Robtel Neajai Pailey (LSE), Richard Lappin (Leuven/OECD), and Sait Matty Jaw (University of The Gambia). 


Year Module code Title Subject
PES4021-DIssues in World Politics
PES5029-BPower Shifts: Regional and Global Challenges
PES6020-BPolitics & Security in Africa
PES6025-BAfrica Study Visit
PES7034-BAfrica Study Visit
PES7035-BAfrican Politics and Security Dynamics
PES7048-BSecurity and Development in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Areas

Professional activities

  • 01-JAN-08: SOAS - PhD
  • 01-JAN-08: SOAS - Senior Teaching Fellow
  • 01-JAN-11:  King’s College London -  Visiting Lecturer
  • 01-JAN-11:  Instituto Rio Branco,Brasilia - Lecturer
  • 01-JAN-10: London Metropolitan University - Course Convener
  • 01-JAN-06: University of Nottingham - Course Convener
  • 01-JAN-03: SOAS - Teaching Assistant
  • Higher Education Authority, Fellow
  • Academic Leadership: Director of JEFCAS


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, David; Conteh, F.M.
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
TitleSierra Leone: A Political History (2nd edition) (2020)
AuthorsDavid Harris
TitleSierra Leone: A Political History (2014)
AuthorsHarris, David
TitleCivil War and Democracy in West Africa: conflict resolution, elections and justice in Sierra Leone and Liberia (2012)
AuthorsHarris, David
TitleWhat Does 'Development Cooperation' Mean? Perceptions from India and Africa (2015)
AuthorsHarris D.;Vittorini S.
JournalCompeting Visions of India in World Politics: India's Rise Beyond the West
TitleTaylor is guilty, is that all there is? The collision of justice and politics in the domestic arena (2015)
AuthorsHarris, David; Lappin, R.
TitleNew Topographies of Power? Africa Negotiating an Emerging Multipolar World’ (2011)
AuthorsDavid Harris and Simona Vittorini
JournalAfrican Engagements: Africa Negotiating an Emerging Multipolar World
TitleIndia Goes Over to the Other Side: Indo-West African Relations in the 21st Century (2011)
AuthorsDavid Harris and Simona Vittorini
JournalIndia in Africa: Changing Geographies in Power