Staff Profiles

James Smith

James Smith
Professor James Smith
Vice Principal International; Professor of African and Development Studies
African StudiesSchool of Social and Political ScienceUniversity of Edinburgh
4.10 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 650 4321
Research Interests
African development, Science, technology and development, Global health policy, Neglected Zoonotic and Tropical Diseases, South African politics, anthropology of development

Office Hours

On research leave. 


Vice Principal International [designate]. Professor of African and Development Studies.  


1995 MA (Hons) Geography and Environmental Science (University of Dundee)

1998 MSc Geography and Development (University of the Witwatersrand)

2001 PhD Environment and Development (University of the Witwatersrand) 

Previous/Other Positions

I held a tutorship and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, worked with Oxfam Southern Africa for a while, and held a research fellowship in the ESRC Innogen Centre at Edinburgh University before moving to the Centre of African Studies, initially as a Lecturer, in 2005. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2006 and appointed Co-director of the Centre of African Studies in 2008. In 2010 I was promoted to a personal chair in African and Development Studies and am Assistant Principal of the new Global Development Academy at Edinburgh. I am also Director of Developing Country Research in the ESRC Innogen Centre and hold Senior Visiting Fellowships at the Development Policy and Practice at the Open University and the Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies at the University of Johannesburg.

I have been an advisor on DfID's Research Into Use programme and am currently a senior advisor to the ESRC-DfID Joint Scheme for Research on International Development and a trustee at the international NGO, Practical Action. I have experience working with donors, development agencies and NGOs including DfID, IDRC, CIDA, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oxfam and the New Partnership for Africa's Development. 

I have held visiting positions at universities in Africa and Europe. I am a member of the Africa Panel of the British Academy. In November I take on the role of Vice Principal International, where I will be responsible for shaping and implementing University's internationalisation strategy.