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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Deborah Bryceson

Deborah Bryceson
Professor Deborah Bryceson
Honorary Fellow
Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square
+44 (0) 1865 292801
Research Interests
Settlement, urban economies, urban growth, social dynamics, occupational change, artisanal mining, changing nature of the family, transnational families, age and gender differentiation, women's employment patterns, food marketing, agricultural policy, famine and food insecurity, creole societies, work cultures, livelihoods, mobility, migration, labour, agrarian change, de-agrarianization

Biographical Background

Deborah Fahy Bryceson is a graduate of the University of Dar es Salaam (B.A. and M.A. degrees in geography and the University of Oxford (D.Phil degree in sociology). She has held academic positions at the University of Dar es Salaam, the Architectural Association in London, the Afrika-Studiecentrum at the University of Leiden, Birmingham University and Glasgow University as well as research associateships with the Universities of Oxford, Copenhagen and Uppsala. Her research consultancy work spans various United Nations agencies including the International Labour Office, FAO, UNCTAD, UNRISD, UNICEF and the United Nations University. She pioneered the concept of de-agrarianization and has gained widespread recognition for her work on the transnational family.

Selected Publications


Mining and Social Transformation in Africa: Tracing Mineralizing and Democratizing Trends in Artisanal Production. 2014. London: Routledge Development Studies series (edited with Jesper Bosse Jønsson, Eleanor Fisher and Rose Mwaipopo), 217 pp. ISBN: 9780415833707.

Mining and African Urbanisation: Population, Settlement and Welfare Trajectories. 2013. London: Routledge, 232 pp. (with Danny MacKinnon), ISBN: 9780415826259.

How Africa Works: Occupational Change, Identity and Morality in Africa. (ed.) 2010. London: Practical Action Publishing, 296 pp.

African Urban Economies: Viability, Vitality or Vitiation? (ed.) 2006. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 353 pp. (with Deborah Potts)

The Transnational Family: New European Frontiers and Global Networks. (ed.) 2002. Oxford: Berg Press, 276 pp. (with Ulla Vuorela)

Alcohol in Africa: Mixing Business, Pleasure and Politics. (ed.) 2002. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 305 pp.

Livelihoods, Linkages and Policy Paradoxes. (ed.) 2001. Special Issue of the Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 19 (1), 160 pp (with Leslie Bank)

Disappearing Peasantries? Rural Labour in Africa, Asia and Latin America. (ed.) 2000.  London: Intermediate Technology Publications, 333 pp (with Cristobal Kay and Jos Mooij)

Farewell to Farms: De-Agrarianization and Employment in Africa. (ed.) 1997. Aldershot: Ashgate, 265 pp. (with Vali Jamal)

Women Wielding the Hoe: Lessons from Rural Africa for Feminist Theory and Development Practice.  (ed.) 1995. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 282 pp.

Liberalizing Tanzania's Food Trade: Public & Private Faces of Urban Marketing Policy 1939-1988. 1993. London: James Currey Publishers, 305 pp.

Food Insecurity and the Social Division of Labour in Tanzania, 1919-1985. 1990. London: Macmillan, 285 pp.

Journal Articles:

‘Artisanal Frontier Mining of Gold in Africa: Labour Transformation in Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo’ 2016. (with S. Geenen) African Affairs, April 115(459), 296-317.

‘For Richer, For Poorer: Marriage and Casualized Sex in East African Artisanal Gold Mining Settlements’, 2014. Development and Change 45(1), 79-104. (with J.B. Jønsson & H. Verbrugge)

‘Prostitution or Partnership? Wifestyles in Tanzanian Artisanal Gold-mining Settlements’, 2013. Journal of Modern African Studies 51(1), 33-56 (with J.B. Jønsson & H.Verbrugge).

‘Eureka and Beyond: Mining’s Impact on African Urbanisation’, 2012. (with D. MacKinnon), 513-27.

‘Unearthing Treasure and Trouble: Mining as an Impetus to Urbanisation in Tanzania’, 2012. 631-49. (with J.B. Jønsson, C. Kinabo & M. Shand).

in Journal of Contemporary African Studies, October 2012, Special Issue edited by Bryceson, D.F. and D. Mackinnon, Mining and Urbanisation in Africa: Population, Settlement and Welfare, 190 pp.

‘Discovery and Denial: Social Science Theory and Inter-disciplinarity in African Studies’, 2012. African Affairs, April issue, 281-302.

‘Birth of a Market Town in Tanzania: Towards Narrative Studies of Urban Africa’, 2011. Journal of Eastern African Studies 5(2), 274-293.

‘Miners’ Magic: Artisanal Mining, the Albino Fetish and Murder in Tanzania’, 2010. Journal of Modern African Studies 48(3), 353-82. (with J.B. Jønsson & R. Sherrington).

‘Gold Digging Careers in Rural Africa: Small-Scale Miners’ Livelihood Choices’, 2010. World Development 38(3), 379-92. (with J.B. Jønsson).

‘Sub-Saharan Africa’s Vanishing Peasantries and the Specter of a Global Food Crisis’, 2009. Monthly Review. July-August, 48-62.

‘Rushing for Gold: Mobility and Small-Scale Mining in East Africa’, 2009. Development and Change 40(2), 249-79. (with J.B. Jønsson)

‘World Bank Urban Geography: Critical Commentary on the World Development Report 2009. “Reshaping Economic Geography”’, 2009. Urban Studies 46(4), 723-38 (with K. Gough, J. Rigg and J. Agergaard)

‘Roads to Poverty Reduction? Exploring Rural Roads’ Impact on Mobility in Africa and Asia’, 2008. Development Policy Review 26(4), 459-82 (with A. Bradbury & T. Bradbury).

Book chapters:

‘Beyond Livelihoods: Occupationality and Career Formation in African Artisanal Gold Mining’

in K. Havnevik, Tobisson, E. and T. Östigård (eds) 2016. Framing African Development – Challenging Concepts, Leiden, Brill. ISBN 9789004305410

‘Reflections on the Unraveling of the Tanzanian Peasantry, 1975-2015’.

in Stahl, M. (ed.) Looking back, Looking Ahead: Land, Agriculture and Society in East Africa. 15 September, 2015. Uppsala. Nordic Africa Institute. ISBN 978-91-7106-774-6

‘Youth in Urbanizing Mining Settlements: Prospecting Tanzania’s Mineralized Future’

in Resnick, D. and J. Thurlow (eds) 2015. African Youth and the Persistence of Marginalization: Employment, Politics, and Prospects for Change, London, Routledge, 85-108.

‘Re-evaluating the Influence of Urban Agglomeration in Sub-Saharan Africa: Population Density, Technological Innovation and Productivity’,

in Parnell, S. & S. Oldfield (eds) 2014. The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South, London, Routledge, 206-18.

‘Mineralizing Africa and Artisanal Mining’s Democratizing Influence’ (with J.B. Jønsson), 1-22.

‘Going for Gold: Miners’ Mobility and Motivation in Mineral Rushes’ (with J.B. Jønsson), 25-43.

‘Pursuing an Artisanal Mining Career: Downward Success’ (with J.B. Jønsson), 44-60.

‘Loosely-woven Love: Sexuality and Wifestyles in Gold-mining Settlements’ (with J.B. Jønsson and Hannelore Verbrugge), 61-78.

‘Beyond Belief: Mining, Magic and Murder in Sukumaland’ (with J.B. Jønsson & R. Sherrington), 95-109.

‘Artisanal Miners’ Democratizing Directions and Deviations’ (with Eleanora Fisher), 179-206. 

in Bryceson, D.F., E. Fisher, J.B. Jønsson and R. Mwaipopo (eds), Mining and Social Transformation in Africa: Mineralizing and Democratizing Trends in Artisanal Production, Development and Society series, London, Routledge.

Ganyu in Rural Malawi: Transformation of Local Labour Relations under Famine and HIV/AIDS Duress’,

in Abbink, J. (ed.) 2012. Fractures and Reconnections and the Redefining of African Political and Economic Space. Leiden, African Studies Centre / Zurich, Lit Verlag, 37-59.

‘Who Cares? Family and Lineage Coherence and Caring Capacity during Rural Malawi’s AIDS Crisis’,

in Bertram, H. & N. Ehlert (eds) 2011. Family, Ties and Care, Berlin, Barbara Budrich Publisher, 503-20. English version.

‘Sub-Saharan Africa’s Vanishing Peasantries and the Specter of a Global Food Crisis’

in Magdoff, F. & B. Tokar (eds). 2010.  Agriculture and Food in Crisis: Conflict, Resistance and Renewal, New York, Monthly Review Press, 69-84.

‘The Proletarianization of Women in Tanzania’.

in Turshen, M. (ed.) 2010. African Women: A Political Economy, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 53-69.

‘Agrarian Fundamentalism or Foresight?  Revisiting Nyerere’s Vision for Rural Tanzania’.

in Havnevik, K. and A. Isinika (eds). 2010. Tanzania in Transition: From Nyerere to Mkapa, Dar es Salaam, Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, 71-98.

‘Africa at Work: Transforming Occupational Identity and Morality’, 3-26.

‘Between Moral Economy and Civil Society: Professional Ethics Bridging Familial Solidarity and Civic Morals’, 265-87. 

in Bryceson, D.F. (ed.) 2010. How Africa Works: Occupational Change, Identity and Morality, London, Practical Action Publishing.

‘Dar es Salaam as a “Harbour of Peace” in East Africa: Tracing the Role of Creolized Urban Ethnicity in Nation-State Formation’.

in Beall, J., B. Guha-Khasnobis & R. Kanbur (eds), 2010. Urbanization and Development: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 219-34.

‘Rural-Urban Transitions in Northwestern Tanzania’s Mining Frontier’ (with Rosemarie Mwaipopo), 158-174.

‘Frontier Mining Settlements: Livelihood Promises and Predicaments’ (with Paul Yankson), 189-197.

in Agergaard, J., N. Fold and K. Gough (eds). 2010. Rural Urban Dynamics: Livelihoods, Mobility and Markets in African and Asian Frontiers. London, Routledge.

‘Swahili Creolization: The Case of Dar es Salaam’.

in Cohen, R. & P. Toninato (eds) 2010. The Creolization Reader: Studies in Mixed Identities and Cultures, London, Routledge, 364-75.

‘The Urban Melting Pot in East Africa: Ethnicity and Urban Growth in Kampala and Dar es Salaam’

in Locatelli, F. and P. Nugent (eds) 2009. African Cities: Competing Claims on Urban Space. Leiden, Brill, 241-260.