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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Gerhard Anders

Gerhard Anders
Dr Gerhard Anders
Senior Lecturer in African Studies - International Development
4.06 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0) 131 651 3178
Research Interests
Anthropology of development, Anthropology of Law, International criminal justice, Transitional justice, Law Anthropology, institutions and State policies, Law and Development

LLM (University of Amsterdam), PhD (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Outline biography
Gerhard studied law at Tubingen University in Germany and international law and legal anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. His PhD project at Erasmus University Rotterdam was an ethnographic study of the experiences of civil servants in Malawi where a civil service reform programme was implemented at the behest of the World Bank and other international donor agencies. Between 2004 and 2011 he worked at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Zurich where he taught legal and political anthropology and anthropology of development. During his time in Zurich he conducted a post-doc research on international criminal justice in West Africa.

Since 2014 Gerhard serves as the convenor of the network on the anthropology of law, rights and governance LAW NET of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA). If you want to learn more about his approach to legal anthropology, read the interview on the blog Allegra Lab: anthropology, law, art, world. For his take on international criminal justice see the youtube video of his Law after Lunch Lecture held in December 2013 (in German) at the Martin-Luther University Halle/Wittenberg in Germany.

Gerhard is one of the Principal Investigators of the new European Joint Doctorate Anthropology of Human Security in Africa ANTHUSIA funded by the European Commission (Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Sklodoswka-Curie grant agreement no. 764546) that is run by Aarhus University (lead applicant), University of Oslo, Catholic University of Leuven and University of Edinburgh.

Research interests
Gerhard’s research focuses on globally circulating ideas about development, good governance, international criminal justice and the rule of law, tracking the everyday experiences of civil servants, lawyers and others involved in the production and diffusion of administrative and legal knowledge. Together with Anne Griffiths from the School of Law he ran a British Academy funded International Partnership and Mobility Scheme (2015-2017) with the Universities of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Malawi titled Realising Justice? Land Reform in Southern Africa.

Until December 2017, Gerhard was the Principal Investigator on the project 'Accountability through practical norms: Civil service reform in Africa from below' that was part of the Anti-Corruption Evidence Partnership Programme funded by the British Academy and DfID (2016-2017). Together with Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan (EHESS, LASDEL) and Giorgio Blundo (EHESS) he studied practical norms in key government departments (health and education) in Sierra Leone, Senegal, Niger, Togo, Tanzania and Malawi. The project made a contribution to the improvement of integrity and public service delivery through engaging public servants, policymakers and donor agencies.

Selected publications

In the Shadow of Good Governance: An Ethnography of Civil Service Reform in Africa. Leiden: Brill (2010).

Edited Volumes

Transition and Justice: Negotiating the Terms of New Beginnings in Africa (with O. Zenker) Special Issue of Development and Change 45:3 (2014).

also published in Wiley-Blackwell's Politics of Development Series:

Corruption and the Secret of Law: A Legal Anthropological Perspective (with M. Nuijten). Aldershot: Ashgate (2007).

Research reports

Anders, G. and W. Chirwa. The importance of practical norms in government health and education services in Malawi. (2018).

Anders, G. and F. Makene. The importance of practical norms in government health and education services in Tanzania. (2018).

Refereed articles and book chapters

"Anthropology and International Law", in A. Carty, ed. Oxford Bibliographies in International Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2018).

"Governance", in H. Callan, ed. International Encyclopaedia of Anthropology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell (2017).

"Law at its Limits: Interdisciplinarity between Law and Anthropology", Journal of Legal Pluralism 47:3 (2016), 411-422.

"The Normativity of Numbers in Practice: Technologies of Counting, Accounting and Auditing in Malawi's Civil Service Reform", Social Anthropology 23:1 (2015), 29-41.

"Contesting Expertise: Anthropologists at the Special Court for Sierra Leone", Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 20:3 (2014), 426-444.

"Transitional Justice, States of Emergency and Business as Usual in Sierra Leone", Development and Change 45:3 (2014), 524-542.

"Transition and Justice: An Introduction", (with O. Zenker) Development and Change 45:3 (2014), 395-414.

“Old-school Bureaucrats and Technocrats in Malawi: Civil Service Reform in Practice”, in T. Bierschenk & J.-P. Olivier de Sardan, eds., States at Work: Empirical Perspectives. Leiden: Brill (2013).

"Bigmanity and International Criminal Justice in Sierra Leone", in M. Utas, ed. African Conflicts and Informal Regimes of Power – Big Men and Networks. London: Zed Books (2012).

“Juridification, Transitional Justice and Reaching out to the Public in Sierra Leone”, in J. Eckert, Z. Ö. Biner, B. Donahue & C. Strümpell, eds., Law against the State: Ethnographic Forays into Law’s Transformation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2012).

"Testifying about 'Uncivilized Events': Problematic Representations of Africa in the Trial against Charles Taylor", Leiden Journal of International Law 24:4 (2011), 937-959.

“Global Legal Order as Local Phenomenon: The Special Court for Sierra Leone”, In: F. von Benda-Beckmann, K. von Benda-Beckmann & A. Griffiths, eds., Spatializing Law: An Anthropological Geography of Law in Society. Aldershot: Ashgate (2009).

“Like Chameleons: Civil Servants and Corruption in Malawi”, in G. Blundo and P.-Y. Le Meur, eds., The Governance of Daily Life in Africa: Ethnographic Explorations of Public and Collective Services. Leiden: Brill (2009).

“Legal Order” (with M. Redner), in A. Iriye and P.-Y. Saunier, eds. The Palgrave Dictionary of Transnational History. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan (2009).

“The Normativity of Numbers: World Bank and IMF Conditionality”, Political and Legal Anthropology Review PoLAR 31:2 (2008), 187-202.

“Follow the Trial: Some Notes on the Ethnography of International Criminal Justice”, Anthropology Today 23:3 (2007), 22-26.

“Redimensionner la fonction publique au Malawi: préceptes des organisations internationales et réalités administratives”, Critique Internationale 35 (2007), 85-99.

“Corruption and the Secret of Law: An Introduction” (with M. Nuijten), in: M. Nuijten and G. Anders, eds., Corruption and the Secret of Law: A Legal Anthropological Perspective. Aldershot: Ashgate (2007).

“Good Governance as Technology: Toward an Ethnography of the Bretton Woods Institutions”, in D. Mosse and D. Lewis, eds., The Aid Effect: Giving and Governing in International Development. London: Pluto Press (2005).

Newspaper reports and blog posts

"Malawi faces toughest, most high-profile trial yet in massive Cashgate scandal" African Arguments. 8 February 2017.

"Chadian dictator's tactics mimic script of former rulers facing criminal charges" The Conversation. 31 July 2015.

"Judicial means and political ends: Transitional justice and political trials" Allegra Lab: Anthropology, Law, Art & World. 26 January 2015.

"The US has no excuse not to prosecute CIA torturers" The Conversation. 14 January 2015.

"Transitional justice and the critique of violence" Allegra Lab: Anthropology, Law, Art & World. 6 November 2014.

"Vermin, pigs and virtuous donkeys: Trying the borders of humanity" Allegra Lab: Anthropology, Law, Art & World. 19 December 2013.

"The impact of the judgement against Taylor: A dispatch from Sierra Leone and Liberia" Mats Utas Wordpress. 8 May 2012.

"Kriegsverbrecher oder bewunderter Präsident?" Neue Zürcher Zeitung. 3 May 2012.

“Kon de aanklager echt niet zonder Naomi?” NRC Handelsblad: 7. 11 August 2010.
“Widersprüche im Taylor-Prozess,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung: 5. 10 August 2010.
“Kleine, schmutzige Kieselsteine,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung: 7/8 August 2010.
“Der Warlord Taylor nun Ankläger,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung: 7. 10 December 2009.
“Der frühere Warlord spielt den Idealisten,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung: 4. 18/19 July 2009.
“Historisches Tribunal, aber es verfehlt sein Ziel,” die tageszeitung: 11. 16.April 2009.
“Der Warlord Charles Taylor – ein Kannibale?” Neue Zürcher Zeitung: 7. 19 March 2008.
“Vom rituellen Verspeisen des Feindes im Krieg,” die tageszeitung: 11. 18 March 2008.

Book reviews

Book review of Domesticating Vigilantism in Africa by Thomas Kirsch and Thilo Grätz. Social Anthropology 20:2 (2012).

Book review of Culture under Cross-Examination: International Justice and the Special Court for Sierra Leone by Tim Kelsall. African Affairs 111:442 (2012).

Book review of Law in the Pursuit of Development: Principles into Practice by Amanda Perry-Kessaris. International Journal of Law in Context 6:3 (2010).

Book review of Fiscal Disobedience: An Anthropology of Economic Regulation by Janet Roitman. Political and Legal Anthropology Review PoLAR 31:1 (2008).

Projects and Publications

Topics interested in supervising

- international criminal justice, transitional justice - development discourse, international financial insitutions, good governance - anthropology of law - anthropology of development - anthropology of the state - law and development

If you are interested in being supervised by Gerhard Anders, please see the links below for more information:

PhD In African Studies; PhD in Social Anthropology; PhD in International Development