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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Professor Marcus Power

Professor in the Department of Geography
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41828
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 41801
Room number: 238
Department Representative, Durham Research Methods Centre
Professor, Urban Worlds

Contact Professor Marcus Power (email at marcus.power@durham.ac.uk)

Biography

My work focuses primarily on the political, economic and historical geographies of development. I am particularly interested in the ways in which the meanings and relations of development, as a discourse, an apparatus and an aspiration, have been geopolitically imagined and enframed, themes I explore in my most recent book Geopolitics and Development (Routledge, 2019).

My understanding of development is very much historically grounded, exploring its emergence as a form of governmentality from the enlightenment, through the Cold War to the War on Terror. This has involved research on how 'the Tropics' were imagined by geographers and in wider programmes of improvement during the age of empire as well as work concerned with the complex challenges of decolonisation as they relate both to Geography, International Relations and Development Studies as academic disciplines but also to wider theories and practices of post-war development. Empirically, much of my research has been focused on Southern Africa (particularly Mozambique and Angola) and I have a long-standing interest in the cultural, historical and political geographies of the Portuguese empire. This has included research on the geopolitical imagination of Portuguese imperialism, on decolonisation and counterinsurgency in Portugal’s African colonies and on post-colonial geographies in Portugal and the wider Lusophone world.

I also have a strong interest in the intersections between (audio)visual culture and geopolitics. Some of my earliest work explored the ways in which radio, television and cinema have shaped cultural identities in colonial and post-colonial Southern Africa. I have also conducted research concerned with Hollywood film in relation to Cold War America, Gulf War II and the scripting, enactment and performance of Africa as the ‘dark continent’. More recent work has examined the role of popular video games in contemporary militarisation, the construction of terrorist ‘others’ and in soliciting support for US imperialism.

My work has also been concerned with economic geographies of neoliberalism and questions of politico-economic transformations in the post-socialist spaces of the global South. My early research focused on the dissemination of neoliberalism through Investment Promotion Authorities (IPA’s) and global development institutions such as UNCTAD and the Commonwealth. More recent work has sought to trace the unravelling of ‘national’ projects of development in Africa and the reworked articulations between territory, development and sovereignty that characterise contemporary spaces of post-development. This has involved research on post-colonial urban change and spaces of enclosure and enclavisation in places like Maputo and Tete in Mozambique and Luanda in Angola.

Over the last decade or so I have sought to examine the rise of (re)emerging development donors like China and the growing importance of ‘South-South’ development cooperation, along with what this means for foreign aid practices and for notions of development ‘partnership’. This initially began with an ESRC-funded project that explored China’s evolving political and economic role in Africa and the impacts Chinese aid, trade and investment are having on recipient states, on poverty reduction and on development trajectories in Africa. More recently I have led an ESRC-funded project looking at how, why and to what extent China, Brazil and India are enabling the transition to low carbon energy systems in South Africa and Mozambique, looking at how ‘rising power’ actors are shaping the provision of energy services for productive uses (such as cooking, lighting and mobility) and the consequent implications for the affordability, accessibility, and sustainability of energy services in the region. This has also included work on energy statecraft, resource diplomacy and infrastructural geographies along with research concerned with wider questions around the geopolitics and geoeconomics of China-Africa relations.

Twitter: @MarcusJPower

Previous Appointments

  • Lecturer in Human Geography, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol
  • Lecturer in Human Geography, School of Geography, University of Leeds
  • Teaching Assistant in Human Geography, School of Geography, University of Leeds

Qualifications & Education

  • 1994 - 1997: ESRC funded PhD research 'Territory, the State and Cultural Identities in 'Post-Colonial' Mozambique' School of Geography, University of Birmingham, (supervised by Dr J.D. Sidaway)
  • 1993 - 1994: MA in the Geography of Third World Development (with distinction), Department of Geography, Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London
  • 1990 - 1993: BA Hons. Geography, Department of Geography, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne

External Supervisions

Research Groups

Department of Geography

Research Projects

Department of Geography

Research Interests

  • Critical geographies and genealogies of (post)development
  • Energy geographies and low carbon transitions
  • Post-colonialism, Portugal and Lusophone Africa
  • Post-socialist transformations in Southern Africa
  • China-Africa engagement
  • Vision, visuality and 'popular' geopolitics

Teaching Areas

  • Cape Town: Geographies of Energy Transition
  • Geographies of Crisis
  • Geographies of Development

Selected Publications

Authored book

Edited book

Chapter in book

  • Kirshner, J & Power, M (2019). 'Electrification and the everyday spaces of state power in postcolonial Mozambique'. In Electrifying Anthropology: Exploring Electrical Practices and Infrastructures. Abram, S, Winthereik, B R & Yarrow, T Bloomsbury. 139-159.
  • Power, M (2019). Mahbub Ul Haq (1934-1998). In Key Thinkers on Development. Simon, D Routledge. 436-442.
  • Power, M (2018). Modernization Theories of Development. In International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Callan, H Wiley Blackwell.
  • Power, M. & Mohan, G. (2016). Towards a Critical Geopolitics of China’s Engagement with African Development. In Readings in the International Relations of Africa. Young, T. Indiana University Press. 322-337.
  • Power, M. (2016). Worlds Apart? The changing geographies of global development. In An Introduction to Human Geography. Daniels, P., Bradshaw, M., Shaw, D., Sidaway, J. & Hall, T. Pearson. 170-185.
  • Power, M. (2015). The Rise of the BRICS. In The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Political Geography. Agnew, J., Mamadouh, V., Secor, A.J. & Sharp, J. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons. 379-392.
  • Sidaway, J.D., Mamadouh, V. & Power, M. (2013). Reappraising Geopolitical Traditions. In The Ashgate Research Companion to Critical Geopolitics. Dodds, K., Kuus, M. & Sharp, J. Ashgate. 165-188.
  • Power, M, & Mohan, G. (2010). China and the Geopolitical Imagination of African ‘Development'. In China-Africa Development Relations. Dent, C. London: Routledge. 42-67.
  • Campbell, D. & Power, M. (2010). The Scopic Regime of Africa. In Observant States: Geopolitics and Visual Culture. MacDonald, F., Hughes, R. & Dodds, K. London: IB Tauris. 167-198.
  • Power, M. (2009). 'Digital war games and post 9/11 geographies of militarism'. In War Isn't Hell, it's Entertainment: Essays on Visual Media and the Representation of Conflict. Schubart, R., Virchow, F. & White-Stanley, D. London: McFarland. 198-215.
  • Phelps, N, Power, M & Wanjiru, R (2007). 'Learning to compete: communities of investment promotion practice and the spread of global neoliberalism'. In Neoliberalization: States, Networks, Peoples. England, K & Ward, K London: Blackwell. 83-109.
  • Power, M (2007). National States. In Encyclopedia of Geography. Douglas, I., Huggett, R. & Perkins, C. London: Routledge.
  • Power, M. (2006). ‘War veterans, disability and post-colonial citizenship in Lusophone Africa’. In Gilbert, E. & Cowen, E. London.: Sage.
  • Power, M. (2006). Dependency Theory. In Encyclopaedia of Geography. Wharf, B. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Power, M. (2005). 'Cold War'. In Encyclopedia of International Development. Forsyth, T. Routledge. 88-89.
  • Power, M (2005). 'Decolonization'. In Encyclopedia of Inernational Development. Forsyth, T Routeldge. 138-140.
  • Power, M. (2005). 'Mahbub Ul Haq (1934-98)'. In Fifty key thinkers in development. Simon, D. Routledge. 264-270.
  • Power, M. (2005). 'War'. In Encyclopedia of International Development. Forsyth, T. Routledge. 745-746.
  • Power, M. (2004). 'Worlds apart: global difference and inequality'. In An Introduction to Human Geography: Issues for the twenty-first century. Daniels, P., Bradshaw, M., Shaw, D. & Sidaway, J. Pearson, Prentice Hall. 185-209.
  • Power, M. (2004). ‘Geographies of governance and regional politics’. In Eastern and Southern Africa: Development challenges in a Volatile region. Potts, D. & Bowyer-Bower, T. London.: Pearson. 255-294.
  • Power, M. (2003). 'Exploding the myth of Portugal’s ‘maritime destiny’ A postcolonial voyage through EXPO ’98’. In Post-colonial Geographies. Blunt, A. & McEwan, C. London.: Continuum.
  • Power, M. (2001). 'Enlightenment and the era of modernity’. In The Companion to Development Studies. Desai, V. & Potter, R. London.: Arnold. 65-70.
  • Power, M. & Sidaway, J.D. (1998). ‘Sex and Violence on the wild frontiers: the aftermath of state socialism in the periphery’. In Theorizing the transition: the political economy of change in Post-Communist Societies. Pickles, J. & Smith, A. London.: Routledge. 145-178.

Journal Article

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

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  • Policy and politics:
  • Security, territory and boundaries:
  • Government:
  • International politics:
  • Conflict and resolution:
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  • Gaming:
  • Asia (excluding Middle East):
  • Citizenship, state and governance:
  • Visual culture:
  • Renewable energy:

Supervises