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Dr William Brown

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Senior Lecturer in Government and Politics
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Polis, Phil, Econ, Dev, Geog
  • Politics
  • william.brown

Professional biography

William Brown joined The Open University in 2000, after lecturing at Portsmouth and Leeds Universities. He gained a first degree in Sociology and Politics from Sheffield University in 1989 and his PhD from Leeds University in 1995.

Professional affiliations

BISA (British International Studies Association)

Research interests

Dr Brown has published in the field of International Relations with a particular focus on Africa, and on the international politics of development aid. Dr Brown was a founder of the British International Studies Association (BISA) Working Group on Africa and International Studies.

His current research explores the international relations of African development. This includes a book chapter (‘Navigating uneven and combined development: Britain’s Africa policy in historical perspective’) in Alex Anievas and Kamran Matin’s new (2106) edited volume Historical Sociology and World History. It also includes forthcoming work on Frederick Cooper’s concept of ‘gatekeeper states’ and on contemporary British Africa policy.

Other recent work has focussed on the issue of sovereignty in aid relations ('Sovereignty Matters' African Affairs, April 2013) and African agency. The latter work included the book, African Agency in International Politics co-edited with Sophie Harman (Routledge, 2013) and article 'A Question of Agency: Africa in International Politics' Third World Quarterly 33(10) 2012.

Past research has included theoretical work ('Africa and international relations: a comment on anarchy and statehood' Review of International Studies vol.32 no.1 2006) as well as contemporary political developments (such as 'The Commission for Africa: results and prospects for the west's Africa policy.' Journal of Modern African Studies vol.44 no.3 2006). He has written in particular on aid relations between UK/EU and Africa including the article 'Reconsidering the Aid relationship: International Relations and Social Development' which appeared in a special issue of the journal The Round Table (vol.98, no.402, 2009) which he co-edited. He is also author of a history of European Union relations with Africa: The European Union and Africa: restructuring north-south relations (IB Tauris 2002).

PhD supervision

William Brown's areas of possible PhD supervision include Africa's international relations; relations between western aid donors and Africa.

A repository of research publications and other research outputs can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.

Teaching interests

Dr Brown has contributed over many years to the OU’s teaching in Politics and International Studies. He led the production of the new level 3 module DD313: International Relations: continuity and change in global politics and currently chairs the module. He was centrally involved in the creation of its predecessor, A World of Whose Making? for which he co-edited the module books Making the International and Ordering the International (Polity Press 2004) and was qualification director for International Studies for ten years. He has contributed to numerous other modules including TD223 International Development; the level 3 module DD306 Living Political Ideas; and the level 3 international environmental policy module called DU311 Earth in Crisis? for which he co-edited the module book Environmental Issues and Responses.


Still one size fits all? Uneven and combined development and African gatekeeper states (2018)
Brown, William
Third World Thematics: A TWQ Journal ((Early Access))
In from the margins? The changing place of Africa in international relations (2013-01)
Harman, Sophie and Brown, William
International Affairs, 89(1) (pp. 69-87)
Sovereignty matters: Africa, donors, and the aid relationship (2013)
Brown, William
African Affairs, 112(447) (pp. 262-282)
A question of agency: Africa in international politics (2012-11)
Brown, William
Third World Quarterly, 33(10) (pp. 1889-1908)
Editorial: new directions in international relations and Africa (2009-06)
Brown, William; Harman, Sophie; Hurt, Stephen; Lee, Donna and Smith, Karen
The Round Table: Commonwealth journal of international affairs, 98(402) (pp. 263-267)
Reconsidering the aid relationship: International relations and social development (2009)
Brown, William
The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 98(402) (pp. 285-299)
Debating the Year of Africa (2007-03)
Brown, William
Review of African Political Economy, 34(171) (pp. 11-27)
Africa and international relations: a comment on IR theory, anarchy and statehood (2006-01)
Brown, William
Review of International Studies, 32(1) (pp. 119-143)
The Commission for Africa: results and prospects for the West's Africa policy (2006)
Brown, William
Journal of Modern African Studies, 44(3) (pp. 349-374)
The World Bank, Africa and politics: a comment on Paul Cammack's analysis (2003)
Brown, W.
Historical Materialism, 11(2) (pp. 61-74)
Restructuring north-south relations: ACP-EU development co-operation in a liberal international order (2000-09)
Brown, William
Review of African Political Economy, 27(85) (pp. 367-384)
The Eu structural adjustment support: the case of Zimbabwe (1999-03)
Brown, William
Review of African Political Economy, 26(79) (pp. 75-91)
The European Union and Africa: the restructuring of north-south relations (2001-11-22)
Brown, William
Library of International Relations
ISBN : 1860646603 | Publisher : I.B. Tauris
Navigating uneven and combined development: Britain’s Africa policy in historical perspective’ (2016-09-01)
Brown, William
In: Anievas, Alex and Matin, Kamran eds. Historical Sociology and World Politics: Uneven and Combined Development over the Longue Durée. Global Dialogues: Developing Non-Eurocentric IR and IPE (pp. 149-169)
ISBN : 9781783486823 | Publisher : Rowman & Littlefield | Published : London
African agency in international politics: an introduction (2013-03-11)
Brown, William and Harman, Sophie
In: Brown, William and Harman, Sophie eds. African Agency in International Politics. Routledge Studies in African Politics and International Relations ((In press))
ISBN : 978-0-415-63353-6 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London
From uniqueness to uniformity?: An assessment of EU development aid policies (2004-01-29)
Brown, William
In: Arts, Karin and Dickson, Anna K. eds. EU development co-operation: from model to symbol (pp. 17-41)
ISBN : 719062985 | Publisher : Manchester University Press | Published : Manchester, UK
African Agency In International Politics (2013-03-11)
Brown, William and Harman, Sophie eds.
Routledge Studies in African Politics and International Relations
ISBN : 978-0-415-63353-6 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

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