Dr Liz Fouksman

Dr Liz Fouksman

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Area Studies


I joined St John’s College as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in June 2018, with a departmental home at the African Studies Centre at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies. Previously I have held research fellowships at Harvard University and the University of the Witwatersrand. I received my doctorate in International Development from the University of Oxford, where I was a Rhodes Scholar.

Research Interests

My current research focuses on understanding moral, social and cultural attachments to work and working. It looks at the impediment such attachments pose to new imaginaries of the future of labour and distribution in an increasingly automated world. In particular, I focus on the ways the long-term unemployed in southern Africa think about links between time-use, work, and income. My research asks how such links challenge both proposals to expand social protection through means such as unconditional cash transfers, as well as more radical calls for the decommodification of labour via mechanisms such as a universal basic income guarantee and/or shorter working hours.

As part of this project, I do action-research with the global movement around universal basic income guarantees (UBI), and I complement my research in southern Africa with comparative case studies in the Global North, including in the USA.

I also focus on outreach beyond academia, particularly by writing for The Conversation and other popular press outlets. You can read some of my popular press writing here:

My past research has also examined the way networks of development organizations (foundations, NGOs and grassroots activists) create civil society knowledge networks that produce, spread and dispute ideas, in particular environmental ideas, from the grassroots to the global and back again. This project focused on two multi-sited case studies, each with a global foundation (one in the USA, the other in Switzerland) funding in-country NGOs (in Kenya and in Kyrgyzstan respectively), which in turn support pastoralist communities in enacting ecologically-focused projects. You can read more about this project here: