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School of Politics and International Relations

Professor David Williams, BSc (ECON), MSc (SOAS), PhD (SOAS)


Telephone: 020 7882 8594
Room Number: Arts One, 2.27B
Office Hours: No office hours


David Williams completed his MSc and PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies. He was Hedley Bull and Talbot Junior Research Fellow in International Relations at Lady Margaret Hall, and Departmental Lecturer in International Relations at Oxford University. Subsequently he was Head of the Department for International Politics at City University before joining Queen Mary University London in 2012.


Undergraduate Teaching

  • POL251 International Relations Theory


Research Interests:

My research interests lie at the intersection of international relations, international development and political theory. I have written widely on relations between western development agencies and developing states, particularly linking development policy and practice with liberal political theory. I have just finished book examining anti-colonial liberalism and am currently working on a project on the temporalities of liberal thought.



Politics, Progress and Pluralism: Thinking with the History of Anti-colonial Liberalism (McGill Queens University Press, forthcoming 2020).

The World Bank and Domestic Transformation in International Politics: Liberalism, Governance and Sovereignty (London, Routledge, hbk. 2008, pbk. 2011).

International Development and Global Politics: History, Theory and Practice (London, Routledge, hbk. and pbk. 2011).


Edited books

Governing the World? The Practice of Global Governance, co-edited with Sophie Harman (London, Routledge, forthcoming 2013).


Selected Journal Articles

'John Stuart Mill and the Practice of Colonial Rule in India', International Political Theory, 2020.

‘Liberalism, Colonialism and Liberal Imperialism’, East Central Europe 45 2018, 1-27.

‘Adam Smith and Colonialism’, Journal of International Political Theory 10(3) 2014, 283-301.

‘International Development in Transition’, International Affairs 90(4) 2014, 925-941. With Sophie Harman.

Development, Intervention and International Order’, Review of International Studies 39(5) 2013, 1213-1231.

‘Civil Society and the Liberal Project in Ghana and Sierra Leone’, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 6(1) 2012, 57-72, with Tom Young.

‘Making a Liberal State: “Good Governance” in Ghana’, Review of African Political Economy, 37(126) 2010, 403-419.

‘“Development” and Global Governance: The World Bank, Financial Sector Reform and the “Will to Govern”’, International Politics 45(2) 2008, 212-227

Managing Sovereignty: The World Bank and Development Policymaking in Sub-Saharan Africa’, Mondes en Dévelopment, special issue on ‘Sovereignty and Underdevelopment in Africa’, vol. 31, 5-21, 2003.

What do We Know about Economic Growth? Or, Why don’t We Know Very Much’, World Development, 29(1) 2001, 1-22. With Charles Kenny.

‘Aid and Sovereignty: Quasi-States and the International Financial Institutions’, Review of International Studies 26(4) 2000, 557-573 (reprinted in K. Dunn (ed), African Politics: Critical and Primary Sources, London, Bloomsbury 2016)).

‘Constructing the Economic Space: International Organisations and the Making of Homo Oeconomicus’, Millennium 28(1) 1999, 79-99 (reprinted in David Moore (ed.), The World Bank: Development, Poverty, Hegemony (Scottsville, University of KwaZulu Natal, 2007)).

‘Governance, the World Bank and Liberal Theory’, Political Studies 42(1) 1994, 84-100, with Tom Young. (Reprinted in Morten Boas and Benedict Bull (eds.) International Development, Sage Library of International Development, (London, Sage 2010)).


Selected Articles in Edited Books

The International Politics of Aid: “Good Governance” and Democracy Promotion’, Iliana Olivie and Aitor Perez (eds.), Aid Power: The Politics of Aid Policy (London, Routledge, 2019).

‘Engineering Civil Society’, Carl Death and Clive Gabay (eds.), Liberal Interventions and Civil Society in Africa (London, Routledge, 2014). With Tom Young.

‘The Study of Development’, Bruce Currie-Adler, Ravi Kanbur, David Malone and Rohinton Medora (eds.), International Development: Ideas, Experience and Prospects (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014).

‘The History of International Development Aid’, Manuella Moschella and Catherine Weaver (eds.), Handbook of Global Economic Governance: Players, Power and Paradigms (London, Routledge, 2014).

‘State Agency and State Formation in Africa’, William Brown and Sophie Harman (eds.) African Agency (London, Routledge, 2013).

‘The International Politics of Social Transformation: Trusteeship and Intervention in Historical Perspective’, Mark Duffield and Vernon Hewitt (eds.), Empire, Development and Colonialism: The Past in the Present (London, James Curry, 2009). With Tom Young.

‘The World Bank and the Liberal Project’, David Moore (ed.), Banking on Hegemony: Critical Essays on the World Bank’s Development Discourse (Scottsville, University of KwaZulu-Natal press, 2007). With Tom Young.


Currently supervising one PhD Student: Farai Chipato

I welcome PhD applications in the following areas:

  • Development policy and practice
  • Foreign aid
  • International Liberalism
  • Global governance and development

Public Engagement

Co-author of a study ‘The New Imperialism: Britain and the Security Challenges of the Next Decade’, for the Joint Doctrine and Concepts Centre, UK Ministry of Defence, April 2002.

Core researcher and co-author for Canadian Department Foreign Affairs and International Trade funded project on institutional cooperation and the consolidation of peace in Sub-Saharan Africa, July 2004.

External Adviser for Royal Holloway University of London, Periodic Departmental Review of Department of Politics and International Relations.

External Reviewer for Swansea University, Periodic Review, Department of Political and Cultural Studies.


Core researcher and co-author for Canadian Department Foreign Affairs and International Trade funded project on institutional cooperation and the consolidation of peace in Sub-Saharan Africa, July 2004.

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