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Shandana Khan Mohmand - Research Fellow

Governance; Conflict and Violence
T: +44 (0)1273 915720


Dr. Shandana Khan Mohmand is a social scientist whose main area of research is political participation and accountability.

Her research is interdisciplinary and comparative, and focuses largely on the following three questions:

1. How does democracy work to empower marginalised voters under conditions of persistent inequality?

This question informs the focus of her book on rural voters in Pakistan, as well as of research projects on political competition across local brokers, and increasing women's political participation by studying the impact of appeals by political parties and civil society organisations. Much of this work aims to contribute to comparative politics literature by nuancing the conventional dichotomy set up between clientelistic and programmatic politics.

2. How can local governments be made to work better for citizens as a whole, and marginalised groups (women, poor, minorities) in particular?

Her work in this area focuses on questions of representation, accountability, and responsiveness, and takes a political economy approach to the analysis of local government and service provision in the Western Balkans, South Asia, and Africa (with a group of co-researchers in a recent issue of the IDS Bulletin).

3. How can the work of research communities and their relationship with policy actors be strengthened to produce more effective evidence-based policy?

This question defines the focus of a number of professional training programmes that Shandana has designed and led to strengthen research communities in Africa, Latin America, and the Western Balkans, which include the Multi-Method Research Course (MMRC) offered annually in Kenya; and the ELLA network in Africa and Latin America on comparative research.

She has over 15 years of experience teaching undergraduate, graduate, and professional training courses. Her publications include the forthcoming Crafty Oligarchs, Savvy Voters: Democracy and Inequality in Rural Pakistan (Cambridge University Press), journal articles, and chapters in Parties and Political Change in South Asia (Routledge, 2015); Local Democracy in South Asia (Sage Publications, 2008); Devolution and Governance (Oxford University Press, 2007); and Decentralisation and Local Governance (Orient Longman, 2005). She has also conducted policy research for ADB, DFID, CIDA, SDC and the UNDP Human Development Report Office.

Research interests: Political participation and behaviour, political accountability, decentralisation, political economy of service delivery, informal institutions.

Languages: English (fluent), Urdu/Hindi (native), Pushto (native), Portuguese (basic), Punjabi (basic).

The most immediate and prominent effect of shrinking civic space is its association with declining respect for human rights, in particular civil and political rights such as freedom of expression and association and protection of human rights defenders and minority group rights.

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

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Evidence and Lessons from Latin America' (ELLA) is a knowledge sharing and learning programme, that seeks to improve knowledge of Latin America's development among African and Asian policymakers, practitioners and researchers - on selected economic, environmental and governance issues.

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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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The aim of this third phase of cooperation between IDS and SDC is to share learning and collaborate on policy engagement in priority areas of decentralised and democratic local governance.

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This research theme, under the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) Research Programme, is concerned with the following question: how can stable and inclusive political settlements (among elites) and a just social contract (between elites and different social groups) emerge that are based on accountable and responsive institutions?

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IDS publications on international development research

Competing to deliver? Political workers and service delivery in Pakistan

Why do some citizens receive better municipal services than others? Comparative political economy is deeply concerned with this question, but most answers so far suggest that unequal access to these services is determined by either class or partisan voting. More details


Innovative Methods for Research on Social and Political Action in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Settings

IDS Working Paper 487 (2017)

Fragile and conflict-affected settings present particular challenges for researchers seeking to study the effect of social and political action (SPA). These challenges are not simply due to prevalent violence and conflict, but contexts of insecurity can restrict the flow of information, key actors can be hard to identify, and if information can be found, vital pieces of the picture may be missing. More details

This is the cover to IDS Bulletin 48.2, 'Interrogating Decentralisation in Africa'.

Interrogating Decentralisation in Africa

IDS Bulletin 48.2 (2017)

What are the smaller stories hidden within the larger trends on governance in Africa, and to what extent has decentralisation affected change in these areas? What are the factors that keep local government reforms from achieving more complete outcomes? More details

This is the cover to IDS Working Paper 473, 'Integrating Informal Institutions in Local Governance: Does it Matter?'.

Integrating Informal Institutions in Local Governance: Does it Matter?

IDS Working Paper 473 (2016)

In this paper we add to the literature on ‘informally institutionalised’ relationships between states and citizens by examining the case of a particular type of informal institution – Mjesna Zajednica (MZ) – that operates across the countries of the former Yugoslavia. More details

This is the cover to IDS Working Paper 468, 'Informal Local Governance Institutions: What They Do and Why They Matter'.

Informal Local Governance Institutions: What They Do and Why They Matter

IDS Working Paper 468 (2016)

There is growing scholarly and policy awareness of the fact that public authority is rarely exercised only by the state. In fact, a host of actors and institutions exercise authority over and regulate the everyday life of local populations across large parts of the world, with important implications for public policy. More details

Women’s votes matter: unpacking gender politics in Pakistan

20 Jul 2017
By Ali Cheema, Asad Liaqat, Shandana Khan Mohmand

What lies beneath Brexit vote?

28 Jun 2016
By Shandana Khan Mohmand

Unlikely comparisons for policy relevant research

08 Apr 2016
By Shandana Khan Mohmand

The good and bad news from Pakistan's May 2013 elections

22 May 2013
By Shandana Khan Mohmand

Ignore informal institutions at your own risk

12 Jun 2012
By Shandana Khan Mohmand

Thematic Expertise:
Accountability; Governance; State Capacity; Nutrition; Politics and Power; Poverty.

Related Programmes and Centres:
Action for Empowerment and Accountability.

Geographic Expertise:
India; Pakistan.