School of Social and Political Science

Kathy Dodworth

Job Title

Research Fellow

Kathy Dodworth

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Research interests

Research interests

+Legitimacy; Practice Theory; Representation; Voluntarism; State-Society Relations; NGOs; Non-State Actors; Political Ethnography; Tanzania; Kenya; China; NHS.


Wellcome Trust Research Fellow looking at the recruitment of Community Health Volunteers in Kenya.

There are two strands to my work. The first is non-state actors, primarily NGOs and now companies, and how such private entities create public authority to act. This was the basis of my doctoral research and my upcoming monograph: Legitimation as Political Practice: Crafting Everyday Authority in Tanzania (CUP 2022). I am interested in where state and non-state actors coproduce particular effects, what I term the non/state, whereby practices, practicalities and people overlap and become enmeshed. My most recent work looks at the Chinese non/state in east Africa.

The second is the negotiation of the non/state in everyday life. In Tanzania, I interviewed NGO volunteers, effectively conscripted via the state to undertake unpaid community work. Recruitment is the basis of my Wellcome Trust grant: 'Recruited, Mobilized, Conscripted? Leveraging community health work, citizenship and public authority in northern Kenya'. The project employs a critical approach to volunteer recruitment / promotion by global health agencies, NGOs and the state, as well as ethnographic fieldwork in Isiolo and Samburu to understand how voluntary labour is negotiated today.


Nominated for EUSA teaching award 2015. Taught on:

  • Africa in Contemporary World (pre-hons) 2018, Senior Tutor
  • Governance, Poverty, Development in Africa (PG) 2014-16, Tutor & Guest Lecturer
  • Africa in International Politics (PG) 2015, Guest Lecturer
  • Africa in World Politics (Honours) 2015, Tutor & Guest Lecturer
  • Approaches to Politics and IR (Honours) 2012-14, Tutor
  • Research in Africa (PG) 2015, Guest Lecturer
  • Interpreting development institutions (PG), Guest Lecturer


I completed my PhD at Edinburgh in 2018: 'Legitimation as practice: crafting space to govern in Tanzania', which won the school's Outstanding Thesis Award. I joined the Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society 2018-2020 to look at public engagement in the NHS. Before academia, I worked for several INGOs in sub-Saharan Africa on education and health.