Professor Mark Duffield

Professor Mark Duffield

Professor Mark Duffield
Emeritus Professor

11 Priory Road, Clifton, Bristol
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School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies

Personal profile

Mark Duffield is Professor Emeritus and former Director of the Global Insecurities Centre and an Honorary Professor at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, University of Manchester. Duffield has held fellowships, teaching posts, chairs and visiting positions at the universities of Khartoum, Sussex, Aston, Birmingham, Leeds, Lancaster, Bristol and Copenhagen. He recently completed eight years as a member of the Scientific Board of the Flemish Peace Institute, Brussels and is a Fellow of the Rift Valley Institute, Nairobi.  Outside of academia, during the 1980s, he was Oxfam’s Country Representative in Sudan.  Duffield has subsequently advised a number of governments, multilateral organisations, UN agencies and NGOs.  His eight books include Global Governance and the New Wars: The Merging of Development and Security (2001, reissued in 2014 in Zed Books prestigious Critique Influence Change series) and Development, Security and Unending War: Governing the World of People (2007, reissued 2013). His new book, Post-Humanitarianism: Governing Precarity in the Digital World, was published by Polity Press in 2019.  


I trained as an anthropologist, doing fieldwork in Sudan during the mid 1970s. A subsequent interest in labour migration led to a major study, in the early 1980s, of the Indian shop-floor movement in the West Midland foundry industry. More recently, my research focused on the critique of liberal interventionism and global governance.  In particular, understanding humanitarian emergencies in terms of the changing international assemblages of power, governance and risk they call forth.  This has included critical work on the relationship between development and security, and the rise to dominance of resilience-thinking.

My new book (Post-Humanitarianism: Governing Precarity in the Digital World) was published by Polity Press in 2019.  The world has entered an unprecedented period of uncertainty and political instability. Faced with the challenge of knowing and acting within such a world, the spread of computers and connectivity, and the arrival of new digital sense-making tools are widely celebrated as helpful.  But is this really the case or have we lost more than gained in the digital revolution?  Post-Humanitarianism contends that connectivity embodies new forms of behavioural incorporation, cognitive subordination and automated management that are themselves inseparable from the emergence of precarity as a global phenomenon.  With capitalism now in a state of permanent emergency, stasis by design has supplanted the politics of meaningful change.  Humanitarian disasters function as sites for trialling and anticipating the modes of containment, social automation and remote management that govern this precarity and, at a time of deepening austerity, increasingly embrace us all. 

My current research is developing these themes further.  This includes exploring the antagonism between circulation and connectivity and how, following the computational turn, capital has completed its capture of the global network.  At the same time, while differing in speed and intensity, I am developing the idea of 'global civil war' in relation to the attack on social reproduction in the global North and South.  


I have taught on development and security, the changing nature of humanitarian intervention, the political economy of internal war, and a stand-alone course on the Sudans from the perspective of their being a laboratory for the changing nature of international interventionism.  

Recent Publications and Transcripts

If you have difficult getting copies of my articles or chapters, please drop me an email.

'Reflections on Famine Crimes, Global War and Activism' 9 October 2019, World Peace Fundation:

'Post-Humanitarianism: Governing precarity through adaptive design', January 2019, Journal of Humanitarian Affairs, 1(1): 15-27:

'Humanitarianism is in crisis. Digital innovation won't fix it', 7 January 2019, The New Humanitarian:

Post-Humanitarianism: Governing Precarity in the Digital World, Cambridge, Polity Press: 2019.

Brad Evans interviews Mark Dufffield on The Death of Humanitarianism in the Los Angles Review of Books, Novemeber 26, 2018:

'Is the Earth Curved or Flat?' - presentation prepared for workshop on 'Mapping, Mercator and Modernity: The impact of the digital', Duisburg, Germany, 25 April 2017:

'Captialism and Liberal Zombification', - prepared for seminar on 'Theorising (Dis)Order: Governing in an uncertain world', World Peace Foundation, Tufts University, 2-3 March 2017:

'Resilience of the Ruins: towards a critique of digital humanitarianism.' 2016. Resilience, published first online 15 March:

'The Digital Development-Security Nexus: Linking Cyber-Humanitarianism and Drone Warfare.' 2015, in Paul Jackson (ed), Hanbook on International Security and Development. Cheltenham & Northhampton, Massachusetts: Edward Elgar.

'From immersion to simulation: remote methodologies and the decline of area studies.' 2014. Review of African Political Economy 41 (sup1), s75-s94.

With Sarah Collinson, 'Paradoxes of Presence: Risk Management and Aid Culture in Challenging Environments', ODI, Humanitarian Policy Group, 2013

Disaster-Resilience in the Network Age: Access Denial and the Rise of Cyber-Humanitarianism.  DIIS Working Paper, 2013: 2.

'How Did we Become Unprepared?Emergency and resilience in an uncertain world, 2013, British Academy Review, (21), 55-58:

'Challenging Environments: Danger, Resilience and the Aid Industry', 2012, Security Dialogue, 43 (5), 475-92.

'Risk Management and the Bunkering of the Aid Industry', 2012, Development Dialogue - The End of the Development-Security Nexus? The Rise of Global Disaster Management, 58, 21-36.

 With Brad Evans, 'Bospheric Security: The Development-Security-Environment- Nexus (DESNEX), Containment and Retrenching Fortress Europe', 2011, in Peter Burgess and Serge Gutwirth (eds.), A Threat Against Europe? Security, Migration and Integration (Brussels: VUB Press), 93-110.

'Environmental terror: Uncertainty, resilience, and the bunker' , 2011, SPAIS Working Paper No. 06-11 (pdf, 600 KB)

Latest publications

  1. Evans, B & Duffield, MR, 2011, ‘Bio-Spheric Security: The Development-Security-Environment-Nexus [DESNEX], Containment and Retrenching Fortress Europe’. in: Peter Burgess, Serge Gutwirth (eds) A Threat Against Europe? Security, Migration and Integration. VUB Press, pp. 93-110
  2. Duffield, M & Evans, B, 2011, ‘Biospheric Security: The Development-Security-Environment-Nexus (DESNEX): Containing and Retrenching Fortress Europe’. in: P Burges, S Gutwirth (eds) A Threat Against Europe? Security, Migration and Integration. VUB Press, pp. 93 - 110
  3. Duffield, M, 2010, ‘The Development-Security Nexus in Historical Perspective: Governing the World of Peoples’. in: Sorensen , Jens Stilhoff (eds) Challenging the Aid Paradigm: Western Currents and Asian Alternatives. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 25 - 46
  4. Duffield, M, 2010, ‘Insurgencia Global y Contrainsurgencia: El Nexo Entre Desarrollo y Seguridad Desde Una Perspectiva Mas Amplia’. in: Carjaval , P E (eds) Las Raices Históricas de los Conflictos Armados Actuales. Universitat de València, pp. 21 - 48
  5. Duffield, M & Hewitt, V, 2009, ‘Development and Colonialism: The Past in the Present’. James Currey

Full publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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