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Patta Scott-Villiers - Research Fellow

Power and Popular Politics; Governance; Conflict and Violence
T: +44 (0)1273 915616
E: p.scott-villiers@ids.ac.uk


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Patta is Co-Leader of the Power and Popular Politics Cluster.

I research political marginalization, asking how people on the margins explain it and resist or embrace it. People's reaction to political marginalization has major implications not only locally, but also nationally and internationally and my research tries to make these implications clear.

At present, I am focusing on young people and their actions, drawing on many years of work in East Africa's borderlands and latterly in the slums of its large cities. Most important for me is to bring my research back to the people who have contributed to it. Rather than just extracting information, I bring analysis and research results back to people, stimulating conversations about what it means and what can be done. Linked to this, I'm also pursuing a line of inquiry into how people debate public issues. I study the powers and limitations of popular politics – street talk and protest – and the role that research can play in supporting it.

At present I am trying to understand the political margins from three angles:

  • Exploring the causes and effects of poor quality education on young people's lives, and its links to growing economic inequality and unraveling insecurity in the East African Region.
  • Explaining a contemporary politics of provision, looking at people's and authorities' reactions to a sharply rising cost of living in city slums and distant rural areas. I'm learning why people protest and why they don't and I'm making connections with right to food movements to understand their part
  • Understanding how political violence preys on young people, discussing why people join in and how it works. I'm exploring its links to wider political economic processes as well as the efforts people make locally to resist it

My perspective is from the ground up. I want to learn how people on the margins explain the mechanisms of marginalization and how they are acting in response. Adding analyses of the national and international political and economic processes that underpin these local situations, I feed research into three zones:

  1. international debates about global inequalities and insecurities;
  2. debates among people on the margins that strengthen their understanding of their situation and its possibilities; and
  3. debates between young people on the margins and those in government, civil society and the private sector who want to find new ways of narrowing the gaps.

PhD student supervision

  • Maria Cascante who is asking what an international NGO campaign in Nigeria might learn from thinking like a social movement
  • Violeta Vajda, who is inquiring into identity and racism in Romania
  • Marcio Pessoa, who is studying defiant civil society in Mozambique

If you are interested in collaborating, please contact me!

The objective of this research is to improve the prospects for accountability for food security at a time of volatility. This will be achieved through an exploration of the proposition that recent popular mobilisation around food has activated public accountability for hunger.

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The aim of this cooperation with the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation is to strengthen their Democratisation, Decentralisation and Local Government Network's understanding, learning, and policy engagement in decentralised and democratic local governance.

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Making All Voices Count: A Grand Challenge for Development (MAVC) is a four-year $45 million fund to support innovation, scaling-up, and research that will deepen existing innovations and help harness new technologies to enable citizen engagement and government responsiveness.

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This collaboration between IDS and the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) aims to bring appropriate participatory methods into quality assurance within SDC. It will also bring new levels of rigour to the principles of participation, poverty orientation and empowerment in the work of SDC and its partners.

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The Power, Violence, Citizenship and Agency (PVCA) project is an action research project designed by researchers at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and carried out with a number of institutional partners.

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Four years on from Irish Aid's landmark Hunger Task Force Report, hunger reduction remains an enormous challenge. This will become more difficult in the context of resource scarcity, climate change, and an increased demand for food in the emerging economies.

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A new partnership between the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and IDS has been formed with the aim of supporting SDC’s ‘Democratisation, Decentralisation and Local Governance Network’ (DLGN) between 2012 and 2014. IDS’ contribution will seek to improve DLGN’s effectiveness and impact of policy strategies and operations.

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Search and filter for all the author's publications by journal, research theme, country and much more.

This is the front cover to IDS Working Paper 461, 'Food Riots and Food Rights: the Moral and Political Economy of Accountability for Hunger in Kenya'.

Food Riots and Food Rights: the Moral and Political Economy of Accountability for Hunger in Kenya

IDS Working Paper 461 (2015)

The green revolution and the global integration of food markets were supposed to relegate scarcity to the annals of history. So why did thousands of people in dozens of countries take to the streets when world food prices spiked in 2008 and 2011? More details

IDS publications on international development research

"The Constitution Lies To Us": Securing Accountability for the Right to Food in Kenya

Food Riots and Food Rights project report (2014)

Factors rooted in Kenya’s history and political economy have dampened citizen expectations of the state, thwarted popular mobilisation and generated weak state responses. This raises a question of responsibility. In this paper, we explore the failure and efforts to overcome them, before considering how accountability for hunger can be made the norm. More details

Boy stand by a burning car in the 2008 Mozambique riots.

Them Belly Full (But We Hungry): Food Rights Struggles in Bangladesh, India, Kenya

Food Riots and Food Rights project report (2014)

The green revolution and the global integration of food markets were supposed to relegate scarcity to the annals of history. So why did thousands of people in dozens of countries take to the streets when world food prices spiked in 2008 and 2011? Are food riots the surest route to securing the right to food in the 21st century? More details

ER71 Front Cover

Roots and Routes of Political Violence in Kenya’s Civil and Political Society: A Case Study of Marsabit County

IDS Evidence Report 71 (2014)

Struggles to influence the balance of power and the distribution of economic resources in Kenya have a long history of violence: national and local, actual and threatened, physical and psychological. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Ekoi and Etem in Karamoja - A Study of Decision-making in a Post-conflict Society

This book presents the findings of a group of young Karimojong who set out to explore land, peace and customary law in the Karamoja sub-region in Uganda. More details

Thematic Expertise:
Conflict and fragility; Participatory methodologies; Politics and Power; Unruly Politics.

Geographic Expertise:
Sub Saharan Africa; Ethiopia; Kenya; Somalia; Sudan; Uganda.