School of Social and Political Science

Dr Kathy Dodworth

Job Title

Research Fellow

Kathy Dodworth

City (Address)


Country (Address)



I completed my PhD in PIR at Edinburgh in 2018 entitled: 'Legitimation as practice: crafting space to govern in Tanzania', which won the school's Outstanding Thesis Award that year. I joined the Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society 2018 - 2020 to look at public engagement in the NHS on two projects: hospital closure protests and public fundraising.

I completed a Masters in Research in 2010 at Edinburgh and a Masters in International Politics in 2004 at the University of Glasgow.

Before returning to academia, I worked for several INGOs in sub-Saharan Africa on education and health.

Research interests

Research interests

Also: Theories of Legitimacy; Practice Theory; Representation; Voluntarism; State-Society Relations; NGOs and Development, Non-state Actors; Bourdieu; Political Ethnography; Tanzania; Kenya; China; African Studies; Global Health; Anti-/De-/Postcolonial Thought; Health Activism; NHS


I am currently a visiting fellow at CAS and will begin my Wellcome funded project (see below) July 2021.

There are two main strands to my work. The first is non-state actors, primarily NGOs and more recently companies and health activists, and how they create, or legitimate, their authority to act. This was the basis of my doctoral thesis at Edinburgh, completed in 2018, and is the basis of my upcoming monograph 'Legitimation as Political Practice' with Cambridge University Press, which is a critical reading of Western legitimacy theory. I am also 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 Africa.

The second area is the impact and negotiation of the non/state in everyday life. During fieldwork in Tanzania I interviewed many NGO volunteers, effectively conscripted to undertake unpaid work, primarily in health. This phenomenon will be the basis of my upcoming Wellcome Trust grant, entitled 'Recruited, Mobilized, Conscripted? Leveraging community health work, citizenship and public authority in northern Kenya'. The project will take a critical, decolonizing approach to volunteer recruitment processes by global health agencies as well as undertake ethnographic fieldwork in Kenya. 



Nominated for EUSA teaching award 2015. Taught on the following:

  • Africa in Contemporary World (pre-hons) 2017-18, Tutor
  • Governance, Poverty, Development in Africa (PG) 2014-16, Lecture
  • 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) 2015-8, Guest Lecturer

Staff Hours and Guidance

Currently by appointment - drop me a line.