Ben is a human geographer, with a BA from the University of Oxford and an MSc from the University of Bristol. He spent a year as a Commonwealth Scholar in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia, Canada, before undertaking his PhD research in the Department of Geography at University College London.
Since completing his PhD studies in 2010, Ben has been based in the Development Policy and Practice Group at The Open University, first as a Research Fellow and currently as a Lecturer in International Development.
Ben’s research interests are primarily in the fields of migration, development and African studies. He is particularly interested in the relationship between human mobility and development, especially in terms of how migrants and diaspora communities contribute to processes of change in their countries of residence and origin. He has explored this relationship principally in African contexts and has held a particular research interest in Nigeria since teaching at a university there in 2000. His MSc research examined the everyday practices of British colonial civil servants in Nigeria and his PhD research analysed the role of London-based Nigerian diaspora organisations in development in Nigeria.
Ben’s current work explores the nature and development outcomes of contemporary migration within and to Africa. This work builds on research conducted with Prof. Giles Mohan on a 2-year ESRC-funded project on the social, political and economic impacts of Chinese migration to Ghana and Nigeria. With OU and international colleagues, Ben is a co-investigator on the GCRF-ESRC-funded project 'Migration for Inclusive African Growth'. This examines the implications for growth in Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Nigeria of a range of internal, regional and international 'South-South' and 'North-South' migration flows.
Ben teaches on the Postgraduate Development Management Programme. Within this, he chairs the presentation of module T877 Development: context and practice and was part of the production team for T878 Capacities for managing development. He has also been involved in the OU's wider 'Environment and Development' teaching, recently co-chairing the production of the new level 2 module DD213 Evironment and Society.
Ben is currently the Postgraduate Convenor for Development Studies and the Pathway Lead for Development Policy and Practice in the Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership. He welcomes PhD research proposals in the fields of migration, development and African studies, particularly in relation to the development role of migrants and diasporas, the politics of development in Nigeria, and the implications of the ‘Rising Powers’ for African development.
Ben is currently supervising the following PhD students:
Daniel Amankona, ‘The Social and Environmental Impacts of Large Chinese Investment Projects in Africa: The Case of Ghana’ (with Dr. Kevin Collins and Prof. Giles Mohan)
Jamila Elhag Hassan, ‘Transnationalism of the Sudanese Diaspora in Glasgow’ (with Prof. Giles Mohan)
Francesca Masciaga, ‘China-Africa: The Role and Influence of Chinese Non-Profit Engagement in Wildlife Conservation’ (with Dr. Shonil Bhagwat and Dr. Charlotte Cross)
Alois Nyanhete, ‘The Role of International Mobile Remittances in Promoting Financial Inclusion and Development’ (with Dr. Cristina Santos and Prof. Nicola Yeates)
Chantal Radley, ‘The Chilean Diaspora and the Making of Chilean Development: UK-Based Chileans, Transnational Identities and Relationships to Home’ (with Prof. Giles Mohan and Dr. Parvati Raghuram)
|Role||Start date||End date||Funding source|
|Co-investigator||01/Sep/2018||28/Feb/2021||ESRC Economic and Social Research Council|
A new wave of economic dynamism in Africa has created a pressing challenge of translating this elite-based, resource-driven growth into more inclusive growth. Africa’s growth has intensified contemporary migration within and to the continent, with important implications for sustainable and inclusive growth in both ‘sending’ and ‘receiving’ contexts. Therefore, the aim of the project is to understand how and to what extent contemporary migrant communities are taking advantage of, and contributing to, sustainable and inclusive growth in Africa. Despite being an important channel for trade, investment and skills development, little is known about the nature and potentially transformative outcomes of these diverse migration flows. In addressing this, the novelty of this project is threefold: (1) in analysing the impacts of migration through the lens of inclusive growth, (2) in exploring internal, regional and intercontinental migration together and moving the study of migration and development beyond South-to-North flows, and (3) in co-designing policy responses and capacity-building resources for optimising the contribution of migration to inclusive African growth. This proposal arises out of an ESRC GCRF network grant that has identified, through a series of workshops hosted by the African partners, that our knowledge of the size, motivations, organisation and impacts of recent flows of migrants and their relations with host communities is largely anecdotal, while official data is fragmented, inaccurate or partial. This proposal will produce the first multi-country comparative study of these groups in Africa, with a focus on how and with what impact these groups operate in the manufacturing and service sectors of four African countries (Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and Mozambique) that are all on the OECD DAC list.