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Durham University

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Professor Marcus Power

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

Contact Professor Marcus Power (email at


One of the key objectives of my research has been to radicalise and rethink the ways in which ‘development’ has been understood in Geography and to foreground and underline the importance of geographical perspectives in formulating new and more critical theoretical understandings of ‘development’. My work has explored the genealogy and degeneration of ‘Tropical’ Geography and the ongoing decolonisation of development geography but also the potential of post-structural perspectives concerned with the power and dissemination of ‘development’ (particularly post-development theory). Some of my recent work has sought to trace emergent spaces of post-development and intersections of enclavisation and enclosure in Southern Africa resulting from macro-shifts in the geography of accumulation and the unravelling of national projects of development. 

Much of my research has been specifically focused on the former Portuguese empire in Africa and has explored the theorisation and practices of ‘development’ in Lusophone African post-colonial states, primarily Angola and Mozambique. This has involved an interest in the geopolitics of Portuguese imperialism, leading to a number of publications concerned with national identity, decolonisation and visual representation in ‘post-colonial’ Portugal (with particular reference to colonial and post-colonial exhibitions and representations of Portugal’s colonial wars and imperial discoveries). A concern with geopolitics and ‘post-colonial’ geographies in the Lusophone world has been an important focus of my research which has explored the relevance and potential of post-colonial theorisations to understandings of the construction of national identity (in Portugal and its former colonies) and to the project of rethinking the geographies of ‘development’ in Africa more generally. This has also involved research on post-colonial urban change and spaces of enclosure in places like Maputo and Tete in Mozambique and Luanda in Angola. Also allied to this has been my concern with Geographies of disability and development in Lusophone Africa (with particular reference to war veterans with physical disabilities in Angola and Mozambique).

My work has also sought to weave together issues concerning economic geographies of neoliberalism and questions of politico-economic transformations in the post-socialist spaces of the global South. My early research was focused on the dissemination of neoliberalism through Investment Promotion Authorities (IPA’s) and global development institutions such as UNCTAD and the Commonwealth. In recent years I have begun to examine the rise of ‘new’ development donors like China and the growing importance of ‘South-South’ cooperation and what this means for the development paradigm and for established modes of development co-operation. This initially began with an ESRC-funded project that explored China’s evolving political and economic role in Africa and sought to assess what impacts Chinese aid, trade and investment are having on the politics of two African countries, Angola and Ghana, which represent very different examples of China’s development ‘partnerships’ 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 interest in the ‘rising powers’ and energy statecraft and resource diplomacy in turn relates to my long standing interest in the geopolitical imagination of ‘development’ in which I have sought to explore the increasingly influential role of Chinese geopolitical discourses in Africa along with the wider geopolitical enframing and imagination of development from the Cold War through to the global War on Terror.

Questions of visual culture have consistently been an important part of my research, with a particular focus on the importance of cinema in shaping popular understandings of geopolitics. Other work has sought to explore the ways in which radio, television and cinema have shaped cultural identities in post-colonial Southern Africa. This has involved work on colonial and post-colonial cinema in Portugal and Mozambique and has focused on the geopolitical reasoning and imaginations that are constructed through film. I am also interested in the importance of contemporary popular video games in the construction of terrorist ‘others’ and in soliciting support for US imperialism and the ‘war on terror’, exploring the ways in which video games promote active participation in a (militarized) culture of violence. I have also written about Hollywood film production in Cold War America and Hollywood film and geopolitics in the context of Gulf War II.

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 and 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.

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

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

  • 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.
  • 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.

Edited book

Journal Article

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Africa:
  • International: Business, economy & development:
  • International: Politics, institutions & law:
  • Identity, ethnicity and culture:
  • Policy and politics:
  • Security, territory and boundaries:
  • Government:
  • International politics:
  • Conflict and resolution:
  • International development:
  • Gaming:
  • Oil and gas:
  • Asia (excluding Middle East):
  • Europe: Language, literature & culture:
  • Citizenship, state and governance:
  • Disability issues:
  • Visual culture:


Selected Grants

  • 2013: Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (LCEDN) Supplement (£5489.60 from Department for Energy and Climate Change)
  • 2012: Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (£29549.38 from Department for Energy and Climate Change)
  • 2012: RF 150253: The Rising Powers, Clean Development and the Low Carbon Transition in sub-Saharan Africa, £582,179.21
  • 2012: RF150235: LCEDN Project and Conference Sponsorship, EPSRC, £6000.00, 2012-03-26 - 2012-06-30
  • 2012: Thorn Lighting Support for 'Energy for Development' (E4DEV) research group (£8333.33 from Thorn Lighting Ltd)
  • 2011: China's impact in Africa - presentation of detailed research findings in Angola (£15000.00 from Department for International Development)
  • 2011: Low carbon development and the 'rising powers' (£3500.00 from One NorthEast)
  • 2011: Visual culture; "Photography, colonialism, and states of emergency" - Visiting Fellowship (£29122.00 from The Leverhulme Trust)
  • 2007: RF150057: The politics of Chinese engagement with African development, ESRC, £221630.25, 2007-08-01 - 2011-01-31
  • 2006: R150596: Mozambique and the Commonwealth: an effective partnership?, The Nuffield Foundation, £5551.00, 2006-03-01 - 2007-12-31
  • 2008: CASE-Studentship Partner (Claire Collingwood) (£6152.00 from Mines Advisory Group)