David Lewis (academic)

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David Lewis (born February 6, 1960, Totnes, Devon) is Professor of Social Policy and Development at London School of Economics.[1]


David Lewis grew up in Bath, UK and read social anthropology at the University of Cambridge (BA/MA 1983). He has a PhD in development studies from the University of Bath (1989). Before becoming a lecturer at the London School of Economics in 1995, he was a development consultant. He became a Professor in 2009.

He has a second career as a musician, recording extensively with John Wesley Harding, touring in Europe and the USA, and releasing three albums.[2][3][4]

Major contributions[edit]

Lewis's speciality is development policy and management, with a particular interest in non-governmental organisations and civil society in Bangladesh. He has also written on rural development, organisational issues in development agencies, and anthropological approaches to development.

Since the 1980s, he has undertaken both academic and applied research on a range of issues including rural development, development policy, politics and the power structure, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society. He first went to Bangladesh to undertake a fifteen month period of village level fieldwork for a PhD on agricultural technologies and agrarian change, later published as a book, 'Technologies and Transactions', by Dhaka University in 1991. In the early 1990s he worked on aquaculture and livelihoods in Bangladesh, and published 'Trading the Silver Seed' (UPL, 1996), co-authored with Geoff Wood and Rick Gregory. David Lewis’ other books include 'Anthropology, Development and the Postmodern Challenge' (Pluto, 1996, with K. Gardner), 'The Management of Non-Governmental Organizations' (Routledge, 2001), 'Development Brokers and Translators' (Kumarian 2006, edited with David Mosse), 'Non-Governmental Organizations and Development' (Routledge 2009, with Nazneen Kanji), and 'Bangladesh: Politics, Economy and Civil Society' (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

Geographical interest[edit]

His field work has been primarily in South and South East Asia, including Bangladesh, India, Nepal. Sri Lanka and Philippines. He has also worked as a consultant for several development agencies, including DFID, Oxfam and BRAC (NGO) in Bangladesh.[1][5] He has also worked as an advisor to the Reality Check Project - a Sida sponsored initiative that is documenting grassroots experiences and perceptions of health and education reform in Bangladesh.[6]

Poor people’s organizations and poverty programs[edit]

In 1999-2000, he conducted work (jointly with Tony Bebbington and Simon Batterbury) on culture, projects and partnership for the World Bank's poverty programs under the title Organizational cultures and spaces for empowerment? Interactions between poor people’s organizations and poverty programs (the countries covered were Bangladesh, Burkina Faso and Ecuador).[7]

Life histories of NGO activists and leaders[edit]

Between 2006 and 2010, he was also lead researcher on the ESRC funded study on Activists, Power and Sectoral Boundaries: Life Histories of NGO Leaders. This research project used the life history method to study the experiences of individuals who moved between state and civil society in different countries, including Bangladesh, Philippines and UK.[8]

The fiction of development[edit]

He is co-author with Dennis Rodgers and Michael Woolcock of the book Popular Representations of Development.[9] A 2008 paper aroused some media interest.[10][11][12][13] The Crisis States Research Centre, in conjunction with DESTIN and the Department of Social Policy, all of the LSE, in February 2010 held a public event on the theme of this paper 'The Fiction of Development' - and at which three noted literary figures Giles Foden (author, The Last King of Scotland), Jack Mapanje (Malawian poet and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Newcastle University), and Sunny Singh (Indian writer and journalist) as well as Professor Lewis all discussed the topic.[14]

Bangladesh: Politics, Economy and Civil Society (Cambridge University Press, 2011)[edit]

This book was the first on contemporary Bangladesh to be published internationally for many years. The book documents Bangladesh’s struggle for independence from Pakistan and its emergence as a fragile, but functioning, parliamentary democracy. It examines the economic, political and social changes that have taken place in the country over the last twenty years. Lewis argues that Bangladesh is now becoming of increasing interest to the international community as a portal into some of the key issues of our age – such as development and poverty reduction, climate change adaptation, and the role of civil society and state in promoting democracy and stability in Muslim majority countries. Despite its difficult past and many continuing challenges, the country is making remarkable progress. In this way the book offers an important corrective to the view of Bangladesh as a 'failed state'.

Major publications[edit]

  • Lewis, D. 2014. Non-Governmental Organizations, Management and Development. Routledge.
  • Lewis, D., D. Rodgers and M. Woolcock. 2013. Popular Representations of Development: Insights from Novels, Films, Television and Social Media. Routledge.
  • Lewis, D. 2011.Bangladesh: Politics, Economy and Civil Society. Cambridge University Press.
  • Lewis, D and Kanji, N. 2009. Non-Governmental Organisations and Development London: Routledge ISBN 0-415-45430-1[15]
  • Lewis, D. & A. Hossain. 2008. Understanding the Local Power Structure in Bangladesh. Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Stockholm: Sida Studies No. 22.
  • Lewis, D. & D. Mosse (eds) 2006. Development Brokers and Translators: The Ethnography of Aid and Agencies. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Books.
  • Lewis D. 2001. The Management of Non-Governmental Development Organisations London: Routledge ISBN 0-415-20759-2.[16] 2nd Edition (2007) and third rewritten edition 2014.
  • Lewis D. and D.Mosse (eds) 2005. The Aid Effect: Giving and Governing in International Development. London: Pluto Press.
  • Glasius M., D. Lewis and H. Seckinelgin.(eds) 2004. Exploring Civil Society: Political and Cultural Contexts. London: Routledge.
  • Lewis D and T Wallace. (eds) 2000. New Roles and Relevance: Development NGOs and the Challenge of Change. Hartford, Ct: Kumarian Press.
  • Lewis, D. (ed) 1999. International Perspectives on Voluntary Action: Rethinking the Third Sector. London: Earthscan.
  • Lewis, D. and K Gardner. 1996. Anthropology, Development and the Post-Modern Challenge. London: Pluto Press.
  • Lewis D., GD Wood and R Gregory. 1996. Trading the Silver Seed: Local Knowledge and Market Moralities in Aquacultural Development. London: Intermediate Technology Publications.
  • Lewis D. and Farringdon J. (ed) 1993. NGOs and the State in Asia: Rethinking Roles in Sustainable Agricultural development. London: Routledge.
  • Lewis D., 1991. Technologies and Transactions: A Study of the Interaction between New Technology and Agrarian Structure in Bangladesh. University of Dhaka, Bangladesh: Centre for Social Studies.


  1. ^ a b http://www2.lse.ac.uk/socialPolicy/whosWho/academicStaff.aspx#generated-subheading9 Prof. Lewis on the LSE's website
  2. ^ https://myspace.com/davidlewisfornow/bio
  3. ^ http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2001-11-29/news/0111290051_1_blues-trio-david-lewis-songs
  4. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/artist/david-lewis-mn0000808760/biography
  5. ^ http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:_Xn3eHBSsJsJ:www.copeh-mena.org/en/docs/new/Community_based_participatory_research.doc+%22David+Lewis+is%22+NGO&cd=16&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk CoPEH-MENA: American University Of Beirut
  6. ^ Lewis, David and Hossain, Abul (2008) Understanding the Local Power Structure in Rural Bangladesh,Sida Studies No. 22 Art no. SIDA46929en ISBN 978-91-586-8115-6
  7. ^ http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTCP/Resources/portfolio.pdf
  8. ^ http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/ViewAwardPage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-155-25-0064 Esrc Society Today
  9. ^ http://www.bwpi.manchester.ac.uk/research/fictionofdevelopment/welcome.html Fiction of Development site at BWPI
  10. ^ The Telegraph Novels 'better at explaining world's problems than reports' People should read best-selling novels like The Kite Runner and The White Tiger rather than academic reports if they really want to understand global issues like poverty and migration, By Stephen Adams 06 Nov 2008
  11. ^ http://www.esquire.com/blogs/books/Development-Lit-Blog#ixzz0k80B6F5M You Don't Have To Hide Your Copy Of "The Kite Runner" Anymore November 7, 2008 at 3:21PM by Anya Yurchyshyn
  12. ^ http://www.heraldscotland.com/novels-give-best-insight-of-society-1.894116 The Herald, Novels 'give best insight of society' heraldscotland staff Published on 7 Nov 2008
  13. ^ http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2008/1110/why-novels-are-best-at-explaining-world-problems Christian Science Monitor, Why novels are best at explaining world problems, By Marjorie Kehe / November 10, 2008
  14. ^ http://www.crisisstates.com/events/Public%20Events09-10.htm Crisis States Research Centre Public Events 2009-10.
  15. ^ Non-Governmental Organisations and Development by David Lewis and Nazneen Kanji - Reviewed by Richard Holloway 1 December 2009 Alliance magazine
  16. ^ The management of non-governmental development organizations: an introduction. David Lewis Reviewed by Duncan Scott Community Dev Journal 2002; 37: 198-199

External links[edit]