Durham University

Department of History

Staff Profile

Mr Matthew Sterling Benson

Taxation and Political Authority in South Sudan in the Department of History

(email at m.s.benson@durham.ac.uk)

Taxation and Political Authority in the Sudans

Matthew Benson's PhD research combines descriptive statistics with an analysis of archival sources in Khartoum, Sudan and the UK to examine how people have experienced, and shaped, public authority in South Sudan & Sudan by complying, evading or rebelling against taxes in these countries. This project utilises social science and historical research methods to examine how fiscal relations have shaped citizen-state ties from both top-down and bottom-up perspectives. It also tests wider theories about the African state-building experience; for example, whether and how the fiscal-social contract, which is considered crucial to European state-formation, might have emerged within some African states.

This research builds on Matthew Benson's experience examining the links between tax and state-building in post-Comprehensive Peace Agreement South Sudan, and the political economy of tax reforms in post-conflict countries more broadly, with the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex. It is also informed by field postings in South Sudan with Crown Agents and Sudan with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Matthew has also conducted field research in Uganda and undertaken research assignments with the Rift Valley Institute, the Overseas Development Institute, the World Bank, the UN Refugee Agency and Oxfam America. 

Matthew Benson holds an MA in Social and Economic History (Research Methods) from Durham University, an MA in Governance and Development from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex and a BA in International Relations from Tufts University. Matthew has been awarded an Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) PhD studentship from 2015-2018. 

Publications

Book review

  • Benson, M (2017). Review of "Borders & Borderlands as Resources in the Horn of Africa" by Markus V. Hoehne and Dereje Feyissa (Eds). Sudan Studies for South Sudan and Sudan 55: 57-59.
  • Benson, M. (2015). Review of "The State of Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Land, Urban Development & State-Building in Juba, Southern Sudan" by Naseem Baidey. Journal of Sudan Studies (52).

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