School of Social and Political Science

Kathy Dodworth

Job Title

Research Fellow

Kathy Dodworth

City (Address)


Country (Address)



I completed my PhD at Edinburgh in 2018 entitled: '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.

Research interests

Research interests

+:Theories of Legitimacy; Practice Theory; Bourdieu; Representation; Voluntarism; State-Society Relations; NGOs; Non-State Actors; Aid & Development; Political Ethnography; Tanzania; Kenya; China; Global Health; Anti-/De-/Postcolonial Thought; Health Activism; NHS


I am a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at CAS, looking at the recruitment practices of Community Health Volunteers in northern Kenya.

There are two strands to my work. The first is non-state actors, primarily NGOs and companies, and how such private entities create public authority to act. This was the basis of my doctoral research and my upcoming monograph with Cambridge University Press. 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 are intertwined. 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 will include a critical, decolonizing approach to volunteer recruitment / promotion by global health agencies as well as ethnographic fieldwork in Isiolo and Samburu to understand how voluntarism manifests today.



Nominated for EUSA teaching award 2015. Taught on:

  • Africa in Contemporary World (pre-hons) 2017-18, 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

Staff Hours and Guidance

Currently by appointment - drop me a line.

Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
Dodworth K. 'A real African Woman!' Multipositionality and its effects in the field. Ethnography. 2021 Jun 1;22(2):164-183.
Dodworth K. Legitimation as political practice: Crafting everyday authority in Tanzania. Cambridge University Press, 2021.
Dodworth K, Stewart E. Legitimating complementary therapies in the NHS: campaigning, care and epistemic labour. Health. 2020 Jun 7.
Dodworth K. Negotiating the public: Voluntarism and its work in Tanzania. African Affairs. 2019 Jan;118(470):125–146.
Dodworth K. Multipositionality in the 'Field'. In Crawford G, Kruckenberg L, Loubere N, Morgan R, editors, Understanding Global Development Research : Fieldwork Issues, Experiences and Reflections. 1 ed. SAGE Publications Ltd. 2017
Dodworth K. NGO legitimation as practice: Working state capital in Tanzania. Critical African Studies. 2014;6(1):22-39.