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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Megan Canning

Megan Canning
Megan Canning
International Development School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh Scotland, UK EH8 9LD
Research Interests
International Development, Gender and Development, Agriculture, Livelihood, Work, Labour, Migration, Land, Agribusiness, Political Economy of Agroindustrial Development in Africa, Political Economy of International Development in Africa, Feminisms in Development and Economics, Economic Anthropology, Ethnography, Sugar Industry, Malawi

PhD Title

The Sweet Life: an Ethnography of Sugar and Development in Malawi

Research Project Description
My thesis is an ethnographic exploration of sugar production and development in Malawi's Lower Shire Valley (Nchalo Sugar Estate). My research looks at sugar, agroindustry, and the political economy of corporate capital in Africa from an intersectional perspective. Based on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork, I'm interested in understanding the estate enclave as a social and economic space; sugar and its impact on poverty, livelihoods and the the rural economy; production, labour markets, labour systems and migration; gendered and racialised forms of power, performance and identity; and aspirations, social mobility, expectations, and notions of 'development'.  This research sits at the nexus of development studies, gender and development, feminist economics, and anthropology.

2014-present: PhD, University of Edinburgh
2012-2014: MSc, University of Edinburgh
2002-2006: MA Hons, University of Glasgow

Canning, M. (2017) ‘Sugar and Gender Relations in Malawi’, in Shortall, S. and Bock, B. (eds), Gender and Rural Globalisation: International Perspectives on Gender and Rural Development, Wallingford: CAB International Publishing.

Conference Papers and Presentations
Canning, M. (2018) 'Sugar, Gender and the Rural Economy: The Relationship Between Male Wage-Work and Female Entrepreneurship in Malawi’s Lower Shire Valley'. Presented at the Centre of African Studies annual presentation day for PhD candidates in African Studies and International Development. University of Edinburgh. April 2018. [forthcoming]

Canning, M. (2018) 'Putting "Gender" in "Gender and Development": Autoethnographic Reflections on Feminist Teaching and Practice in Development Studies'. Presented at the 'Teaching Feminisms, Transforming Lives' workshop: in rountable form at the India International Centre, New Delhi, December 2017; as a full paper at the University of Edinburgh, February 2018.

Canning, M. (2017) 'Life Inside the Bubble: the Sugar Estate as a Social Space'. Presented at the Centre of African Studies annual presentation day for PhD candidates in African Studies and International Development. University of Edinburgh. April 2017.

Canning, M. (2015) ‘Wage Labour and Livelihood Strategies in Malawi’s Plantation Economy’.  Presented at the Business, Investment, Trade and Tourism (BITT) Forum, Scotland Malawi Partnership, Edinburgh.  June 2015.

Canning, M. (2015) ‘Labour, Livelihoods and Gender Equality in the Malawian Sugar Industry’.  Presented at the 16th Annual Researching Africa Day, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford.  March 2015.

2018: Guest Lecturer, delivering "Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Business", for the course "Sustainable Development 2a: Perspectives on Sustainable Development", undergraduate course, University of Edinburgh

2018: Guest Lecturer, speaking on "Ethics, Bureaucracy, and Other Considerations" for the course "Research in Africa", postgraduate course, University of Edinburgh

2017: Guest Lecturer, delivering “Agriculture and the Rural Economy” for the course “Roots of African Poverty and Development”, postgraduate course, University of Edinburgh

2017: Course Tutor, "Introduction to Sustainable Development, 1A", undergraduate course, University of Edinburgh

2015: Course Tutor, "International Development, Aid & Humanitarianism",  undergraduate course, University of Edinburgh

Related Work in International Development:
2017-present: Development Research Consultant; freelance (Worldwide)

2014: Research Lead with Challenges Worldwide (Edinburgh, Scotland)

2008-2014: Projects Manager with RIPPLE Africa (Nkhata Bay District, Malawi; Glasgow, Scotland)

Related Academic Projects
2017-2019 - Member of the Feminist Taleem: Teaching Feminisms, Transforming Lives project- addressing questions of feminist identity, pedagogy, and violence- with Principal Investigator Dr. Radhika Govinda, funded by the UK-India Educational Research Initiative. 

Academic Awards: 
2014-2017:  The Chrystal Macmillan PhD Studentship, 'awarded to the most outstanding new PhD student whose work accords with the spirit of Chrystal Macmillan: feminist, internationalist and campaigner for peace and justice'

2014:  The Toni Kearton Prize for Best Masters Dissertation in the School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

2014:  Prize for Best Overall Performance in MSc International Development, University of Edinburgh

2002:  California Governor’s Scholarship

Dr Barbara Bompani, Centre of African Studies
Dr Andrew Bowman, Centre of African Studies
Dr Radhika Govinda, Department of Sociology

Non-Academic Achievements
I'm a keen fan of Scottish traditional music, and as a former piper with Scotland's Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band and Northern Ireland's Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, I've won 24 Grade 1 RSPBA major championship titles, including five World Pipe Band Championships, as well as six RSPBA Champion of Champions awards and a ‘Grand Slam’.