Barnaby Joeseph Dye


Personal profile

Research interests

My research has focused on the politics of development, with a particular specialism in Africa. My interests lie in the intersection of two major global trends; firstly, a boom in dams and infrastructure construction and secondly, the rise of states from the Global South and their establishment as major economic-development actors. I am interested in the political economy processes involved in funding and planning infrastructure and the decision making over who benefits. This involves research on the international level of ‘traditional’ ‘establishment’ actors like the World Bank, European and American donors, and the companies and governments from economically-rising states in the Global South. The national level is also enormously significant, and much of my fieldwork has focused on understanding the actors, strategies, ideologies and decision making processes within states. I have then traced international and national policymaking to particular projects and policies, examining the ‘on the ground’ impacts on people’s lives and the environment.

 Infrastructure and Ideology: The Dam Building Resurgence and Modernist Development in 21st Century Africa

These interests are the central theme for my book project with Oxford University Press (contract signed). My research here focuses on the political economy and ecology of infrastructure and particularly focuses on the role of ideology in shaping 21st Century development realities. From the early 2000s, Africa has seen the rise of illiberal governments, a number of whom have also pursued ambitious programmes of economic and social transformation. This entailed the pursuit of grand infrastructure projects including major urban transformations, mega-road, rail and airport schemes, extensive plantation irrigation and booms in electricity generation. The so-called rising or emerging powers are often the key enablers for this trend, providing the finance and construction companies to implement large infrastructure. My book addresses these key political economy trends in Africa’s 21st century development landscape; the turn towards infrastructure construction, the rise of ambitious, state-led development programmes and the growing activities of the emerging powers. The book will draw on work conducted during my doctorate and post-doctorate, focused on dams and the electricity sector specifically, with empirical fieldwork in Rwanda, Tanzania, Ghana and Ethiopia.

I have published a number of related publications on this theme, including an upcoming speical issue in Critical African Studies and an article in the European Journal of Development Research. 

I have also undertaken policy work in this area, critiquing the Stiegler’s Gorge/Julius Nyerere Dam in Tanzania for being the wrong electricity project in the wrong place (too expensive and too negatively impactful given better viable alternatives). Additionally, I led the production of the FutureDAMS Guide, outlining a more participatory, stakeholder-based approach to modelling the Water-Food-Energy-Environment Nexus. I lead the creation of a explanatory video and policy guide to demonstrate the value of participative, stakeholder-based processes which acknowledge the political nature of the modelling process and the fundamental trade-offs over resources, livelihoods and environmental impacts.

The guide can be found here:

Indian and Brazilian Relations with Africa

One of the central themes of my research are India and Brazil’s relations with the global South. I have conducted substantial research on these so-called emerging or rising Southern powers of India and Brazil, and their trade, diplomatic activity and development cooperation, with a focus on Africa. My research has examined the prominence of the private sector, the drivers behind major policy trends and the social, environmental and economic impacts of so-called South-South Cooperation. I am keen to place these findings in the broader strategic, ideological and foreign policy thinking, as well as the evolution of policies over time. For example, I have examined the uneven convergence of the Indian government's international development activity with protocols of the World Bank and OECD donor agencies.

I have published this research in journals like African Affairs and Third World Quarterly and edited books volumes. Here my research is funded by the FCDO’s India-UK Development Partnership Forum and UKRI’s FutureDAMS Research Consortium and I have an ongoing collaboration with Professor Ricardo Soares de Oliveira (Oxford).

The Politics of Electricity

Another pillar of my work has been the politics of electricity and the national decision making processes that shape key decisions. Given the pressing concerns of climate change, ambitious policy commitments, all countries are faced with the challenge of a renewable energy transition. Additionally, for many developing countries, especially those in Africa, electrification is a central development prerogative. But this leaves questions of justice, of who gets what, who pays and why are certain technologies and models chosen over others. Does the transition offer possibilities for new models of electricity ownership that change the distribution of benefits? What will the ongoing push to privatise electricity systems in Africa bring for development and the political economy of energy.

I have researched these themes in Ghana, leading a team of researchers examining decision making processes and the energy-sector bureaucracy, and in Rwanda and Tanzania. I am interested in what the politics of electricity tells us about the broader state of development and the relevance of renewable electricity projects in Africa for the UK. My work on this theme has been supported by UKRI’s FutureDAMS’ research consortium and the ESRC’s IAA grants. I have published work on this theme in journals like Energy Research and Social Science, and New Political Economy.


Having read geography at the University of Cambridge and completed a Master’s at King’s College, London, I undertook a doctorate at the University of Oxford. During the last phase of the DPhil, I joined the FutureDAMS Research Consortium at the University of Manchester as a research associate, earning promotion to research fellow. In the consortium, I mainly work with Dr Tom Lavers and Professor David Hulme and our partner research teams in Ghana, India and Ethiopia. Alongside my book project, I had four main strands of work, including managing three research grants. I joined the Politics Department at the University of York in September 2022. 

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or