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School of Geography

Dr William Monteith

William

Lecturer in Human Geography

Email: w.monteith@qmul.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 8438
Room Number: Geography Building, Room 105
Twitter: @WillMonteith

Profile

I am interested in the question of what it means to work in contexts in which people’s labour is not valued by the state or labour market. My research explores subjective experiences of work, hustle and ‘make do’ at the margins of capitalist economies; the relationships, politics and places produced by these experiences, and the possibilities they provide for realising more just and inclusive economic geographies. 

My work to date has focused on three themes, explored through ethnographic fieldwork in Kampala, Uganda:

  • Re-theorising work. Recent shifts in the social and spatial organisation of production have facilitated the decline of wage employment across much of the world. Yet the idea of the waged 'proper job' continues to dominate the imaginations of governments and activists. My co-edited book seeks to develop new theorisations of work and (re)distribution through prolonged engagements with workers in the global South.  
  • Informal work and entrepreneurship. Over 2 billion people - or 60% of the world's employed population - work in the informal economy. My research explores the ways in which informal workers organise themselves and make a living in contested urban environments, and the relationships and institutions they rely upon in the absence of state support.
  • Marketplace urbanism. Urban marketplaces are dynamic and diverse spaces that have long provided opportunities for socioeconomic experimentation and subversion. I am interested in the role of marketplaces as incubators of alternative urban cultures and economies.

Key publications

  • Monteith, W., Vicol, D. and Williams, P. (2021) Beyond the Wage: Ordinary Work in Diverse EconomiesBristol: Bristol University Press 
  • Monteith, W. & Camfield, L. (2019) “Business as Family, Family as Business: Female Entrepreneurship in Kampala, Uganda,” Geoforum 101: 111-121
  • Monteith, W. & Giesbert, L. (2017) “When the Stomach is Full, We Look for Respect: Perceptions of ‘Good Work’ in the Urban Informal Sectors of Three Developing Countries.” Work, Employment and Society31(5): 816-833
  • Monteith, W. (2018) “Showing ‘Heart’ While Making Money: Negotiating Proximity in a Ugandan Marketplace.” Africa 88(1): 12-30
  • Monteith, W. (2017) “Markets and Monarchs: Indigenous Urbanism in Postcolonial Kampala.” Settler Colonial Studies 9(2): 247-265

 

 

Teaching

I am an enthusiastic student and teacher of geography and endeavour to communicate research in ways that engage students. I am director of the Global Development BA and Development and International Business MSC courses and currently teach on the following modules:

Undergraduate

  • GEG5103 Geographical Research in Practice (co-convenor)
  • GEG6151 Urban African Economies (convenor)
  • GEG6000 Independent Geographical Study (contributor)

Postgraduate

  • GEG7132 Re-theorizing Global Development (contributor)
  • GEG7131 Global Working Lives (convenor)

QMUL Teaching Awards 

  • Innovative Teaching Award (finalist)
  • Technology Enhanced Learning Award (winner)

Research

Research Interests:

My research is currently divided between four projects:

Rethinking work and distribution for precarious migrant workers after Covid 19 (HSS Collaboration Fund)

This project, conducted in collaboration with the Work Rights Centre in London, will generate urgent evidence on the on the double-impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit on precariously employed EU migrants in London, with a focus on barriers to state support, and viable mitigation tactics. Critically, it also seeks to create a dialogue on the future of work with migrant workers and to assess support for more radical interventions including universal basic income. 

Gender, work and welfare in the informal economy (DEVCo, UEA)

I am working with Professor Laura Camfield (School of International Development, UEA) on a project investigating the ways in which women negotiate access to the informal economy in Kampala, Uganda. Drawing upon a household survey and a 4-year panel of life history interviews, this project explores the role of female voluntary associations in responding to the rising costs of healthcare and increasing rates of marital breakdown in the city.

Refugee and IDP participation in informal markets in urban Uganda (DFID/IIED)

Since 2017, I have been conducting research with Dr. Shuaib Lwasa (Urban Action Lab, Makerere University) on the participation of urban displaced populations in informal markets in Kampala. Through a combination of surveys, interviews and mapping exercises, this project seeks to generate an understanding of the opportunities and limitations of informal markets as facilitators of socioeconomic integration in the wake of humanitarian crises.

Heart and Struggle: Everyday life in Nakasero Market (DEV, UEA)

My doctoral research in the School of International Development at UEA explored the negotiation of work and care in a historical marketplace in Kampala, Uganda. Based on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork, this research sought to move beyond state-led narratives of development in Africa to examine the ways in which informal workers organise themselves and make a living within a contested space in the city. I am currently developing this work into a monagraph. 

Publications

Books

Articles

  • Monteith, W. & Camfield, L. (2021) "'Don't You Want us to Eat?' The Moral Economy of a Ugandan Marketplace", Critical African Studies (Online First) 
  • Monteith, W. & Mirembe, G. (2021) "'We Are Taught to Act': Hustling on the Move in Kampala and Nairobi' Africa 95(1): 95-112
  • Monteith, W. & Camfield, L. (2019) “Business as Family, Family as Business: Female Entrepreneurship in Kampala, Uganda,” Geoforum 101: 111-121
  • Monteith, W. (2018) “Showing ‘Heart’ While Making Money: Negotiating Proximity in a Ugandan Marketplace.” Africa 88(1): 12-30
  • Monteith, W. & Giesbert, L. (2017) “When the Stomach is Full, We Look for Respect: Perceptions of ‘Good Work’ in the Urban Informal Sectors of Three Developing Countries.” Work, Employment and Society31(5): 816-833
  • Monteith, W. & Lwasa, S. (2017) “The Participation of Urban Displaced Populations in (In)formal Markets: Contrasting Experiences in Kampala, Uganda.” Environment and Urbanization29(2): 383-402
  • Monteith, W. (2017) “Markets and Monarchs: Indigenous Urbanism in Postcolonial Kampala.” Settler Colonial Studies 9(2): 247-265
  • Monteith, W. (2017) “Showing ‘Heart’ through Ethnography: Ethical Entanglements in a Ugandan Marketplace.” City 21(2): 178-189.
  • Monteith, W. (2016) A 'Market for the People?' Changing Structures of Governance and Participation in a Ugandan Marketplace. Development 58(1): 58-64

Book chapters

  • Monteith, W. (forthcoming) "Rethinking Work from the Cities of the South" in Desai, V., Dauncey, E. and Potter, R. (Eds) The Companion to Development Studies (4th Ed.), London: Routledge
  • Camfield, L. & Monteith, W. (2020) Precarious Prosperity? Social (Im)mobilities Among Young Entrepreneurs in Kampala, in Noret, J. (Ed.) Social (Im)mobilities in Africa, Oxford: Berghahn

Book reviews

  • Monteith, W. (2021) Review of African Markets and the Utu-Ubuntu Business Model, by M N Kinyanjui, Africa 95(1): 123-125 
  • Monteith, W. (2018) Review of New Urban Worlds: Inhabiting Dissonant Times, by AM Simone and E Pieterse, Urban Studies 55(11): 2561-2564

 

Supervision

Prospective PhD students

I would be excited to hear from students interested in conducting PhD projects on the topics of precarity, informality, and markets, as well as those related to the future of work in the global South. Please get in touch via email. 

Current PhD students

I currently supervise the following PhD projects:

  • Salome Kimani, 'Everyday Experiences of Digital Finance Among Market Traders in Nairobi'
  • Natasha Sharma, 'The Work-lives of Manual Scavengers in Postcolonial Kolkata' 
  • Deivi Norberg, 'Uncertainty Under the Arches: The Crisis of Affordable Workspace in London' (in collaboration with the East End Trades Guild)
  • Jack Hanlon, 'Meat, Masculinity and the Marketplace: Smithfield in the late 20th Century' (in collaboration with the Museum of London) 
  • Louisa Brain, 'Im/mobility and Environmental Change in the Horn of Africa' 

Public Engagement

I am actively engaged in academic and non-academic networks related to my research, including the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the Work Rights Centre (WoRC) and the Urban Action Lab in Uganda.

In 2015, I was awarded a grant from the British Institute in East Africa to present the findings of my doctoral research to participants and policy makers in Kampala through a series of participatory workshops, for which I received the Public Engagement Prize from the Social Science Faculty at UEA.

In 2017, I was awarded funding from the Goethe Institute to curate an exhibition on African mobilities with Doreen Adengo (Adengo Architecture). The exhibition, entitled ‘Kampala: City of Refuge’, combines geographical and architectural representations of migration in the city, was exhibited in at the Architecture Museum in Munich in 2018. You can read more about it here

I have published articles for non-academic audiences in African Arguments, The Daily Monitor and the Futures of Work magazine.