Meet the Council: Jonathan Fisher
Jonathan Fisher is Professor of Global Security at the International Development Department at the University of Birmingham. His research focuses on the relationship between authoritarianism and (in)security across multiple levels – global, regional, domestic, and “the everyday”. He has a particular interest in the role of ideas and legitimacy in authoritarian systems and spaces, and has worked extensively in eastern Africa, where he has focused on the influence of guerrilla heritage on contemporary patterns of governance, conflict and cooperation.
“I have always been interested in how security and insecurity are experienced and understood in different places and by different communities in different contexts,” he explains.
“Security and development are two sides of the same coin, and are basically intertwined; some of the worst conflicts in the world derive from lack of development – failure to provide adequate (or even) basic services, for example – and also tend to be based in countries and regions which have been historically marginalized by governments and by the wider international system.”
Jonathan sees his research in development deriving from those observations, and an understanding of how the past and present makeup and power dynamics of the global system impact on the everyday lives, livelihoods and (in)securities of people across the world.
“One of the things I really like about DSA – and about Development Studies – is how it brings together such a range of scholars, disciplines, and debates in tackling the big challenges our world faces: from gross inequalities, to insecurity, and climate change.”
“For me and many others, these are intrinsically political challenges in many respects and so I approach development from that perspective. In other words – what are the political barriers to positive, progressive global change, and how can we leverage opportunities when they arise, or, indeed, bring them into being?”
Jonathan is the author of a string of publications and books, and has been the head of global engagement for the School of Government and head of the International Development Department (IDD) at Birmingham. But his engagement with the DSA began as an early career researcher.
“I first came to know DSA as a PhD student and a postdoctoral fellow and really appreciated both its diversity and supportiveness. DSA has an important voice in the UK and internationally in raising awareness of, and challenging, what are often short-sighted or knee-jerk policy approaches by governments to development challenges, and I am keen to be a part of contributing to those critiques and responses. DSA is also not afraid to ask searching questions of itself. It does so, though in a way that is respectful of different perspectives and in the spirit of listening, learning, and working together for positive change.”
Jonathan has been a member of DSA for many years, and a member of Council since 2020. He has worked on issues of decolonisation and sits on the PhD and Masters dissertation prize committees. As of this academic year he is also the DSA Secretary.
“DSA is a supportive and dynamic group of scholars and practitioners and has a broad representation from across disciplines, themes, and career stages. If you have an interest in Development Studies then you will certainly find much to engage with and I really encourage all colleagues to get involved!”