Martin Evans
  • Ryton Organic Gardens CV8 3LG Coventry United Kingdom

    United Kingdom

  • Source: Scopus
  • Calculated based on no. of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus
20002022

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Personal profile

Biography

I gained a BSc in Botany at the University of Bristol and, after a decade working mainly in the environmental sector (including the UK public sector and the voluntary sector in the UK and France), I did an MA in Environment and Development at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. This led on to a PhD in Human Geography, mostly at SOAS again but completed at King’s College London. Following a postdoctoral position and a temporary lectureship at the University of Leicester, I moved to the University of Chester in 2009, ultimately to become a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for International Development Studies. In summer 2020 however I took the opportunity to leave these roles and devote myself full-time (at least for now) to research, writing, editing and consultancy interests. I already have long experience of advisory and consultancy work for various organisations including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development (now combined), Chatham House, and international agencies and NGOs working in or on West Africa. I am Managing Editor, as well as Editor for geography (broadly defined) papers, for the Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue canadienne des études africaines.

Research Interests

My interests lie at the nexus of natural resource management, rural livelihoods and (in)security. In this vein I have been researching socio-economic and political aspects of conflict and ‘post-conflict’ reconstruction for over two decades, focusing on the separatist rebellion in Casamance, southern Senegal – arguably West Africa’s longest-running civil conflict. This research has covered diverse issues including the rural economy and the problematic term ‘war economies’; the rebel movement; the cross-border dynamics of the conflict, involving actors in The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau; forced displacement and voluntary return; and the relationships between international aid, insecurity and local politics in the reconstruction process. Much of this research has taken an inductive approach to studying the livelihoods of rural dwellers, and in turn using livelihoods as a lens to view and understand broader processes. 

A particular area of interest since return of the displaced started in the early 2000s has been how people reclaim and reshape their habitable and productive spaces – a significant physical task on land that has reverted to forest over years of abandonment – and how they reconstitute not only their settlements but also their political communities. This return process importantly involves stabilisation agriculture, creating farming livelihoods for returnees – provided that appropriate support is in place, including infrastructure for hydrological management and transport of agricultural produce to markets. Social cohesion may however still be challenged by divisions related to the conflict itself, or by land tenure issues and uneven access to aid among returnees. 

A current focus of my work concerns paddy rice cultivation in Casamance more generally in a context of agroecological and social changes, linking with broader debates about the relationships between climate change, migration and food security. I am also revisiting an issue that I originally explored in my doctoral research, namely illicit timber extraction and trafficking, particularly of rosewood (Pterocarpus erinaceus). This acts as destabilising influence by exacerbating tensions around natural resource management and by providing an ongoing source of finance for armed actors (non-state and state) in Casamance, while deforestation drives ecological degradation in a context already vulnerable to climate change.

Vision Statement

I was passionate about nature conservation long before I became interested in (and similarly passionate about) the situation of people in the developing world and the need to build societies globally that are equitable, peaceful, sustainable and resilient to the changes that the climate crisis is already bringing. Having moved in my academic training from the natural to the social sciences, I firmly believe that addressing such issues is best achieved through interdisciplinary research and through holistic, cross-sectoral approaches to ‘development’. Such research and praxis should start, above all, by understanding the perspectives and needs of local people, particularly those living in socially and ecologically fragile environments.

Education/Academic qualification

Postgraduate Certificate Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, University of Chester

Award Date: 27 Oct 2011

PhD Geography, King's College London

Award Date: 31 Dec 2003

MA Environment and Development, SOAS, University of London

Award Date: 1 Dec 1999

BSc (Honours) Botany, University of Bristol

Award Date: 10 Jun 1988

External positions

Member (ex officio) of Board of Directors, Canadian Association of African Studies / Association canadienne d'études africaines

1 Sep 2015 → …

Editor (Geography subject area), Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue canadienne des études africaines

1 Sep 2015 → …

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