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Dr William Monteith

William

Lecturer in Human Geography

Email: w.monteith@qmul.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 8438
Room Number: Geography Building, Room 223

Profile

Twitter: @WillMonteith

I am interested in the question of what it means to work in contexts in which people’s labour is not valued by the state or formal economy. My research explores subjective experiences of work – or ‘making do’ – at the margins of formal economies; the politics and places produced by these experiences, and the ways in which they challenge theories of development based on the historical experiences of Western societies.

My work to date has focused on three themes, explored through ethnographic fieldwork in Kampala, Uganda:

  • Work and welfare in the informal economy. The informal – or ‘real’ – economy is responsible for the employment of the majority of the urban workforce in sub-Saharan Africa. I am interested in the ways informal workers make a living within contested spaces in the city, and the relationships and institutions that provide welfare in the absence of the state.
  • Displacement economies. According to UNHCR, the number of forcibly displaced persons in the world is the highest it has been since World War II. My interest is in the livelihood activities pursued by displaced populations in urban areas, and their relationship with host states and societies.
  • Marketplace urbanism. Urban environments often defined with reference to diversity – as spatial concentrations of diverse peoples, goods and interactions. I am interested in the role of public marketplaces as vital sites of integration and exchange in the city, and as incubators of urban cultures.

Key publications

  • Monteith, W. & Giesbert, L. (2017) “When the Stomach is Full, We Look for Respect: Perceptions of ‘Good Work’ in the Urban Informal Sectors of Three Developing Countries.” Work, Employment and Society 31(5): 816-833
  • Monteith, W. (2017) “Showing ‘Heart’ through Ethnography: Ethical Entanglements in a Ugandan Marketplace.” City 21(2): 178-189.
  • Monteith, W. & Lwasa, S. (2017) “The Participation of Urban Displaced Populations in (In)formal Markets: Contrasting Experiences in Kampala, Uganda.” Environment and Urbanization 29(2), Online First
  • Monteith, W. (2017) “Markets and Monarchs: Indigenous Urbanism in Postcolonial Kampala.” Settler Colonial Studies, Online First
  • Monteith, W. (2018) “Showing ‘Heart’ While Making Money: Negotiating Proximity in a Ugandan Marketplace.” Africa 88(1): 12-30

Teaching

I really enjoy teaching and endeavour to share research in ways that enhance students’ learning experiences. I currently teach on the following modules:

Undergraduate

  • GEG5128 Spaces of Uneven Development (convenor)
  • GEG6138 Urbanisation and Development in sub-Saharan Africa (convenor)
  • GEG6000 Independent Geographical Study (contributor)
  • GEG5103 Geographical Research in Practice (contributor)

Postgraduate

  • GEG7132 Re-theorizing Development Futures (contributor)
  • GEG7131 Global Working Lives (contributor)

QMUL Teaching Awards 2017/18

  • Innovative Teaching Award (nominee)
  • Technology Enhanced Learning Award (winner)

Research

Research Interests:

My research is currently divided between three projects:

Heart and Struggle: Everyday life in Nakasero Market (DEV, UEA)
My doctoral research in the School of International Development at UEA explored the negotiation of work and care in a historical marketplace in Kampala, Uganda. Based on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork, this research sought to move beyond state-led narratives of development in Africa to examine the ways in which informal workers organise themselves and make a living within a contested space in the city. I am currently developing this work through a book proposal and series of publications.

Gender, work and welfare in the informal economy (DEVCo, UEA)
I am working with Professor Laura Camfield (School of International Development, UEA) on a project investigating the ways in which women negotiate access to the informal economy in Kampala, Uganda. Drawing upon a household survey and a 4-year panel of life history interviews, this project explores the role of female voluntary associations in responding to the rising costs of healthcare and increasing rates of marital breakdown in the city.

Refugee and IDP participation in informal markets in urban Uganda (DFID/IIED)
For the past 12 months, I have been conducting research with Dr. Shuaib Lwasa (Urban Action Lab, Makerere University) on the participation of urban displaced populations in informal markets in Kampala. Through a combination of surveys, interviews and mapping exercises, this project seeks to generate an understanding of the opportunities and limitations of informal markets as facilitators of socioeconomic integration in the wake of humanitarian crises.

Publications

  • Monteith, W. (2017) “Markets and Monarchs: Indigenous Urbanism in Postcolonial Kampala.” Settler Colonial Studies, Online First
  • Monteith, W. (2018) “Showing ‘Heart’ While Making Money: Negotiating Proximity in a Ugandan Marketplace.” Africa 88(1): 12-30
  • Monteith, W. (2017) “Showing ‘Heart’ through Ethnography: Ethical Entanglements in a Ugandan Marketplace.” City 21(2): 178-189.
  • Monteith, W. & Lwasa, S. (2017) “The Participation of Urban Displaced Populations in (In)formal Markets: Contrasting Experiences in Kampala, Uganda.” Environment and Urbanization 29(2), Online First
  • Monteith, W. & Giesbert, L. (2016) “When the Stomach is Full, We Look for Respect: Perceptions of ‘Good Work’ in the Urban Informal Sectors of Three Developing Countries.” Work, Employment and Society 31(5): 816-833
  • Monteith, W. (2016) A 'Market for the People?' Changing Structures of Governance and Participation in a Ugandan Marketplace. Development 58(1): 58-64

PhD Supervision

I would be excited to hear from students interested the following areas, preferably in, but not limited to, Eastern Africa and the UK:

  • Urban displacement
  • Marginality
  • Informal and precarious work
  • Urban sociality and care

Public Engagement

I am actively engaged in academic and non-academic networks related to my research, including the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) and the Urban Action Lab in Uganda.

In 2015, I was awarded a grant from the British Institute in East Africa to present the findings of my doctoral research to participants and policy makers in Kampala through a series of participatory workshops, for which I received the Public Engagement Prize from the Social Science Faculty at UEA.

In 2017, I was awarded funding from the Goethe Institute to curate an exhibition on African mobilities with Doreen Adengo (Adengo Architecture). The exhibition, entitled ‘Kampala: City of Refuge’, will combine geographical and architectural representations of migration in the city, and will be presented in Kampala and Munich in 2018.

I have published articles for non-academic audiences in African Arguments, The Daily Monitor, and The Guardian.

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