Dr Charis Enns

Lecturer in International Development

Charis Enns

Room number: E9
Telephone (internal): 27939
Telephone (UK): 0114 222 7939
Telephone (International): +44 114 222 7939
Email: c.enns@sheffield.ac.uk


Charis is a Lecturer in International Development in the Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield. She is also an Affiliated Researcher at the East African Institute at Aga Khan University. Before moving to Sheffield, Charis was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Guelph in Canada. She completed her PhD at the University of Waterloo.


Research Interests:

My research interests lie at the intersection of human geography, critical development studies and political economy and ecology. I research the impacts of large-scale investments in land and natural resources on rural landscapes and livelihoods. I am also interested in corporate social responsibility and corporate-community engagement practices around sites of large-scale land investment. Key themes running through my work include governance, citizenship, territory, mobility, knowledge, land and livelihoods.

Current Research:

Changing landscapes of biodiversity conservation

Some of my research focuses how investments to promote biodiversity conservation intersect with rural livelihoods. A current project, titled Tenebo o-ngwesi (‘Together with wildlife’), uses walking interviews and storytelling to document how the landscape and human-wildlife interactions in northern Kenya have changed over the past century as a result of biodiversity conservation efforts. This research is being conducted in collaboration with researchers at the Indigenous Movement for Peace Advancement and Conflict.

Resource corridors and infrastructure-led development

Another theme of my recent research has been resource corridors, which are networks of roads, railways, pipelines, and ports built to transport commodities from sites of production to global markets. Drawing on fieldwork in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Cameroon, this research explores how resource corridors intersect with rural mobilities, livelihoods, economies and landscapes. I am also interested in the tensions that emerge between new mega-infrastructure developments and biodiversity conservation efforts. To hear more about Charis' recent work in this area, follow this link to a recent talk she delivered at the University of Bonn's Future Rural Africa CRC.

Resource extraction and rural lives

My doctoral and postdoctoral research focused on the impacts of resource extraction on rural people and ecologies. As part of this work, I have examined the impacts of mining and oil and gas exploration and extraction on various rural livelihood systems in East and Central Africa, including pastoralism and fishing. I have also looked at the strategies used by rural actors to negotiate and resist extractive investments that fail to serve their interests.

Politics of corporate social responsibility

Some of my past research has looked at the complicated and uneasy relationships that emerge between extractive companies, communities and government actors, as corporations become increasingly involved in everyday life and service provision through their CSR. I am also interested in understanding the implications of a growing trend where extractive companies integrate biodiversity conservation into their CSR – often by working in partnership with conservation organizations.


I currently teach undergraduate and postgraduate course modules on geographies of development, environment and development and research design and methods. I have previously designed and taught courses on development theory and practice, environment and society and critical security studies.
In 2019/20, I am involved in teaching the following modules:

Level 2

• GEO118 – Geographical Skills
• GEO248 - Research Design for Geography and Environmental Science
• GEO336 – Development and Global Change


• GEO6801 - Ideas and Practice in International Development
• GEO6804 – International Development Fieldclass
• GEO6806 - Key Issues in Environment and Development


I am involved in personal supervision and tutoring of undergraduate and postgraduate students at all levels. I am particularly interested in supervising students conducting research in the field of development geography who are interested in postcolonial/decolonial thinking or topics such as: biodiversity conservation; resource extraction; mega-infrastructure; corporate social responsibility and corporate greening initiatives; commodity politics; rural livelihoods; and social differentiation in rural societies (e.g. age, ethnicity, gender, youth).


Key Publications:

Enns, C., & Bersaglio, B. (Forthcoming). Fixing Extraction through Conservation: On Crises, Fixes and the Production of Shared Value and Threat. Environment and Planning E.

Enns, C. (2019). Infrastructure projects and rural politics in northern Kenya: the use of divergent expertise to negotiate the terms of land deals for transport infrastructure. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 46(2), 358-376.

Enns, C., & Bersaglio, B. (2016). Pastoralism in the time of oil: Youth perspectives on the oil industry and the future of pastoralism in Turkana, Kenya. The Extractive Industries and Society, 3, 160-170.

Enns, C., & Bersaglio, B. (2015). Enclave oil development and the rearticulation of citizenship in Turkana, Kenya: Exploring ‘crude citizenship’. Geoforum, 67, 78-88.

Enns, C., Bersaglio, B., & Kepe, T. (2014). Indigenous voices and the making of the post-2015 development agenda: the recurring tyranny of participation. Third World Quarterly, 35, 358-375.

Please see 'Publications List' page for more publications.