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Centre of African Studies: People


Gerhard Anders

Gerhard Anders
Dr Gerhard Anders
Senior Lecturer in African Studies and International Development
4.07 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0) 131 651 3178
Research Interests
Anthropology of development, Anthropology of Law, International criminal justice, Transitional justice, Law Anthropology, institutions and State policies, Law and Development

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • by appointment, contact me via email

LLM (University of Amsterdam), PhD (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Outline biography
Gerhard is Senior Lecturer in African Studies and International Development at CAS. He is trained in both law with a focus on international law and anthropology, especially legal and political anthropology. He has conducted extensive field research in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Malawi. Prior to joining CAS he worked at the Faculty of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Department of Anthropology, University of Zurich. Gerhard’s research focuses on globally circulating ideas about development, good governance, international criminal justice and the rule of law, tracking the everyday experiences of government officials, lawyers and others involved in the production and diffusion of administrative and legal knowledge. He is the author of 'In the Shadow of Good Governance: An Ethnography of Civil Service Reform in Africa' (Brill 2010) and co-editor of 'Corruption and the Secret of Law: A Legal Anthropological Perspective' (Ashgate 2007) and 'Transition and Justice: Negotiating the Terms of New Beginnings in Africa (Wiley-Blackwell 2014).


Transition and Justice


Transition and justice: negotiating the terms of new beginnings in Africa (2014) with Olaf Zenker.

With articles by Gerhard Anders, Kimberley Armstrong, Adam Branch, Nigel Eltringham, Marion Fresia, Sabine Hoehn, Steffen Jensen, Steven Robins and Olaf Zenker.



In the Shadow of Good Governance

In the shadow of Good Governance (2010)

'No other study of the 1990s good governance agenda in Africa has accomplished Anders' nuanced account of the lived experience among civil servants caught up in the throes of change. This is a landmark study that challenges facile generalizations about corruption and the dysfunctional state in Africa'.

                                              Harri Englund (University of Cambridge)                                                                                                                                                       

Gerhard's research has been supported by a range of funding bodies including the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the British Academy and the UK Department for International Development (DfID)/Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Currently, he is the Principal Investigator of the Global Integrity/FCDO- funded project Fighting high-level corruption in Africa: Learning from effective law enforcement, part of the Anti-Corruption Evidence Programme (2019-2021). Recently, he served as Principal Investigator on the project 'Accountability through practical norms: Civil service reform in Africa from below' that was part of the Anti-Corruption Evidence Partnership Programme funded by the British Academy and DfID (2016-2017). Together with Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan (EHESS, LASDEL) and Giorgio Blundo (EHESS) he studied informal, practical norms in key government departments (health and education) in Sierra Leone, Senegal, Niger, Togo, Tanzania and Malawi.  With Anne Griffiths from the School of Law he ran a British Academy funded International Partnership and Mobility Scheme (2015-2017) with the Universities of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Malawi titled Realising Justice? Land Reform in Southern Africa.

At the international level, Gerhard serves as the convenor of the network on the anthropology of law, rights and governance LAW NET of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA). If you want to learn more about his approach to legal anthropology, read the interview on the blog Allegra Lab: anthropology, law, art, world. Further, he is a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute  and a member of its Committee on Policy and Practice. He has provided expert advice to the Scotland Malawi Partnership, Scottish Government, FCDO, Anti-Corruption Bureau Malawi and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ministry of Justice, Government of Malawi.

Gerhard is one of the Principal Investigators of the European Joint Doctorate Anthropology of Human Security in Africa ANTHUSIA funded by the European Commission (Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Sklodoswka-Curie grant agreement no. 764546) that is run by Aarhus University (lead applicant), University of Oslo, Catholic University of Leuven and University of Edinburgh.

Selected publications

"Corruption and law enforcement: Insights from a mixed-methods study in Malawi" (with F.E. Kanyongolo and B. Seim), Journal of Modern African Studies 58:3 (2020), 315-336.

"Governance", in H. Callan, ed. International Encyclopaedia of Anthropology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell (2019).

"Anthropology and International Law", in A. Carty, ed. Oxford Bibliographies in International Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2018).

The importance of practical norms in government health and education services in Malawi (with W. Chirwa). (2018).

The importance of practical norms in government health and education services in Tanzania (with F. Makene). (2018).

"Law at its Limits: Interdisciplinarity between Law and Anthropology", Journal of Legal Pluralism 47:3 (2016), 411-422.

"The Normativity of Numbers in Practice: Technologies of Counting, Accounting and Auditing in Malawi's Civil Service Reform", Social Anthropology 23:1 (2015), 29-41.

"Contesting Expertise: Anthropologists at the Special Court for Sierra Leone", Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 20:3 (2014), 426-444.

Transition and Justice: Negotiating the Terms of New Beginnings in Africa (with O. Zenker) Special Issue of Development and Change 45:3 (2014).

also published in Wiley-Blackwell's Politics of Development Series:

"Transition and Justice: An Introduction" (with O. Zenker), Development and Change 45:3 (2014), 395-414.

"Transitional Justice, States of Emergency and Business as Usual in Sierra Leone", Development and Change 45:3 (2014), 524-542.

“Old-school Bureaucrats and Technocrats in Malawi: Civil Service Reform in Practice”, in T. Bierschenk & J.-P. Olivier de Sardan, eds., States at Work: Empirical Perspectives. Leiden: Brill (2013).

"Bigmanity and International Criminal Justice in Sierra Leone", in M. Utas, ed. African Conflicts and Informal Regimes of Power – Big Men and Networks. London: Zed Books (2012).

Book review of Domesticating Vigilantism in Africa by Thomas Kirsch and Thilo Grätz. Social Anthropology 20:2 (2012).

Book review of Culture under Cross-Examination: International Justice and the Special Court for Sierra Leone by Tim Kelsall. African Affairs 111:442 (2012).

“Juridification, Transitional Justice and Reaching out to the Public in Sierra Leone”, in J. Eckert, Z. Ö. Biner, B. Donahue & C. Strümpell, eds., Law against the State: Ethnographic Forays into Law’s Transformation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2012).

"Testifying about 'Uncivilized Events': Problematic Representations of Africa in the Trial against Charles Taylor", Leiden Journal of International Law 24:4 (2011), 937-959.

In the Shadow of Good Governance: An Ethnography of Civil Service Reform in Africa. Leiden: Brill (2010).

Book review of Law in the Pursuit of Development: Principles into Practice by Amanda Perry-Kessaris. International Journal of Law in Context 6:3 (2010).

“Global Legal Order as Local Phenomenon: The Special Court for Sierra Leone”, In: F. von Benda-Beckmann, K. von Benda-Beckmann & A. Griffiths, eds., Spatializing Law: An Anthropological Geography of Law in Society. Aldershot: Ashgate (2009).

“Like Chameleons: Civil Servants and Corruption in Malawi”, in G. Blundo and P.-Y. Le Meur, eds., The Governance of Daily Life in Africa: Ethnographic Explorations of Public and Collective Services. Leiden: Brill (2009).

“Legal Order” (with M. Redner), in A. Iriye and P.-Y. Saunier, eds. The Palgrave Dictionary of Transnational History. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan (2009).

“The Normativity of Numbers: World Bank and IMF Conditionality”, Political and Legal Anthropology Review PoLAR 31:2 (2008), 187-202.

Book review of Fiscal Disobedience: An Anthropology of Economic Regulation by Janet Roitman. Political and Legal Anthropology Review PoLAR 31:1 (2008).

“Follow the Trial: Some Notes on the Ethnography of International Criminal Justice”, Anthropology Today 23:3 (2007), 22-26.

Corruption and the Secret of Law: A Legal Anthropological Perspective (with M. Nuijten). Aldershot: Ashgate (2007).

“Good Governance as Technology: Toward an Ethnography of the Bretton Woods Institutions”, in D. Mosse and D. Lewis, eds., The Aid Effect: Giving and Governing in International Development. London: Pluto Press (2005).

Selected blog posts and op-ed pieces

"'Your are fired!'" Personalised rule and the fight against corruption in Nigeria, Tanzania and Malawi" (with M. Page) Premium Times. 12 October 2020.

"Malawi faces toughest, most high-profile trial yet in massive Cashgate scandal" African Arguments. 8 February 2017.

"Chadian dictator's tactics mimic script of former rulers facing criminal charges" The Conversation. 31 July 2015.

"Judicial means and political ends: Transitional justice and political trials" Allegra Lab: Anthropology, Law, Art & World. 26 January 2015.

"The US has no excuse not to prosecute CIA torturers" The Conversation. 14 January 2015.

"Transitional justice and the critique of violence" Allegra Lab: Anthropology, Law, Art & World. 6 November 2014.

PhD Students:

Laura Martin, Activating Justice: Local Appropriation of Transitional Justice in Sierra Leone (graduated in 2017)

Monica Skaten, From Refining to Smuggling: The Everyday Politics of Petrol in Ghana (graduated in 2017)

Kathy Dodworth, NGO Legitimation as Practice: Crafting Political Space in Tanzania (graduated in 2018): Winner of the SSPS Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award 2018.

Thina Nzo, Local Government Party Politics and ANC Councillor Representation: The Dynamics of Council Decision-making in South Africa (graduated in 2018)

Mike Leach (University of Tilburg), Fragmented and Plural Coherence: Exploring the Work of the 'Rule of Law' Concept in International Development

Emmanuel Oluwole Oni, Institutional Reforms and the Autonomy of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa: The case of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in Nigeria

Simeon Koroma, Unusual Courts and Urban Spaces: An Examination of the Local Courts in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Joshua Anderson-Rose, Youth in a Refugee Camp in Malawi

Cecilie Baann, The Security-Development Nexus and Artisanal Fishing in Sierra Leone

Tanja Hendriks, A State of Relief: Governance and Human Security. The state and everyday practices of governing in Malawi

Topics interested in supervising

- international criminal justice, transitional justice - development discourse, international financial insitutions, good governance - anthropology of law - anthropology of development - anthropology of the state - law and development

If you are interested in being supervised by Gerhard Anders, please see the links below for more information:

PhD In African Studies; PhD in Social Anthropology; PhD in International Development