Dr Matthew L. Bishop
Senior Lecturer in International Politics
Telephone: 0114 222 0664
Feedback and consultation hours: Weds 9am, Thurs 3pm
In 2016, Matthew re-joined the department where he undertook all of his degrees—BA (Hons) French and Politics (2003), MA Research Methods and IR (2004, with distinction), and PhD (2008)—and also began his academic career. In the interim, he spent seven years at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago, firstly as Lecturer in International Relations (in 2009) and then as Senior Lecturer (from 2013). He has held visiting positions at universities in the UK (Warwick, as Transatlantic Fellow), the Netherlands (Institute of Social Studies and the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies) and China (Wuhan). Matthew is also the founding managing editor of the Caribbean Journal of International Relations & Diplomacy, and he has consulted for various organisations, including the Department for International Development (DfID), The Commonwealth Secretariat, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
Matthew is active within the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) where he is a Fellow and co-leader of its research programme on Development and the Governance of a Globalising Political Economy, and regularly writes commentaries for its influential blog. He is also a Fellow of the Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID). His primary area of research interest is the political economy of development, with a particular focus on small states in general, and the Caribbean specifically. He has four main research strands active at present: comprehending the ‘existential threats’ facing development in the Caribbean region; the rise of China and the attendant impact of hegemonic transitions on global governance in general, and multilateral trade in particular; rethinking development conceptually and empirically beyond the so-called ‘rise of the BRICS’ (the subject of a SPERI paper published in mid-2016); and the turning tide of drug policy in the Americas, reflected in sudden and remarkable patterns of cannabis decriminalisation and legalisation throughout the region.
Professional Activities and Recognition:
I teach primarily in the areas of political economy and development. In the academic year 2016-17, I will be introducing a new Level 2 module (POL 235) entitled “Development”. This challenges existing understandings of the subject as something that is only of special concern to the so-called “Global South” and tells a longer-term story of development that begins with the British Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century and ends with the British growth crisis through which we are living today. In-between, we venture across almost the entire world the past 250 years – to 19th Century Germany and the USA, Latin America and the tropical islands of the Caribbean and Pacific in the mid-20th; Japan and South Korea in the 1970s; post-colonial Africa; and contemporary China – to learn how the ways in which development is understood and practiced is rooted in particular societies, at particular times, in line with particular prevailing ideas. I am also teaching an MA Module on “The Politics of Development” (POL 6870) which looks at different theories of development and how they play out in practice.
My teaching philosophy is guided by the provision of structures: I believe passionately that students learn best when given clear frameworks within which they can roam freely without becoming lost. This begins with the conception of modules themselves: key intellectual concerns emanate from a central organisational architecture; it incorporates the structure and rationale for assignments, which align with specific theoretical and empirical concerns, and are designed to assist in the development of different skills at appropriate points in a student’s academic journey; and it finds expression in seminars, where I continually pose big questions that help students to develop their own mental maps of issues, and to discover their own compelling answers to thorny problems.
I work hard in seminars to encourage everyone to participate and, crucially, to feel comfortable doing so. My classes are relentlessly energetic: discussions flow, but I also interject regularly to pose new questions, tease out fully those which have emerged implicitly – but which might not be recognised explicitly by the group – and I continually challenge students to think on their feet, subject their arguments to scrutiny, relate them to the literature, and to remain sceptical of conventional wisdom while learning to recognise and critique the validity of different knowledge-claims. A student once said that my seminars are characterised by ‘a relaxed but business-like atmosphere’ and this is exactly what I try to aim for.
I have a diverse array of interests, so am keen to supervise PhD students interested in various issues, and, indeed, would also be very open-minded about dipping into others beyond them. Broadly speaking, I would be delighted to receive enquiries from students wishing to work on issues such as (but not limited to):
I have examined a number of PhD theses, and am currently the main supervisor of four students at the University of the West Indies, all of whom received full scholarships, and of which three are very close to submission: Genève Phillip (good governance in non-sovereign territories); Ricky Ramnarine (post-sugar preference adjustment in Guyana, Trinidad and Fiji); Nikita Pardesi (decent work and social upgrading in global value chains); and Toni Blackman (sustainable transport in Port of Spain and Geneva).
My current research is organised around four broad themes:
Rethinking development beyond the crisis. This began with a working paper published in 2016 entitled Rethinking the political economy of development beyond the “Rise of the BRICS” which does two things: it reflects on the consequences of China’s rise (and that of other ‘emerging’ countries) for conceptions of development, and lays out an embryonic research agenda for studying it in a post-crisis world. This is my major project over the next few years and feeds into my work with SPERI in general, and Tony Payne in particular, as co-leaders of the institute’s research programme on Development and the Governance of a Globalising Political Economy. We plan to write a book on rethinking development conceptually, and I will use this as an intellectual springboard for a much larger individual project assessing global patterns of development beyond the crisis.
The political economy of drug policy in the Americas. This strand of research began with funding from the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) in 2015-16 and sought to assess the political economy of cannabis legalisation in the US, the consequences for US domestic/foreign policy and the global governance regime for drugs, as well as the developmental implications for small Caribbean producer countries. I am writing this up into a number of academic papers, and some of my emerging ideas are in blog form (here, here and here) and a SPERI Global Brief about the UN conference (UNGASS) on drugs that took place in 2016. I intend to expand this research by looking at cannabis policy reform in South America and Canada too, ultimately writing a book on the subject that is presently loosely entitled Pathways from Prohibition: Governing Ganja in the Americas.
China’s ‘rise’ and global governance. I am currently working on two collaborative papers: one, authored with Andy Knight (University of Alberta), addresses the question of US-China ‘hegemonic transitions’ in the Caribbean; another, with Xiaotong Zhang (Wuhan University), asks whether China is a ‘reluctant leader’ of the WTO. The latter is part of a journal special issue that I am editing with Peg Murray-Evans (University of York) on how ‘rising powers are reshaping global economic governance’. In the longer-term, Zhang and I are planning funding bids to Chinese and UK research councils to undertake work with other colleagues in and beyond Sheffield to study China’s developmental expansion.
Existential threats and Caribbean development. This strand of research brings together my longstanding interest in the political economy of development in the Caribbean, and links to a wider concern with the patterns of insecurity facing many small island states. In the first instance, I am working on an Edited book that addresses different elements of the multi-faceted development challenge facing the region. I am also part of a team of researchers (see below) undertaking an ESRC/AHRC-funded project looking at urban violence in Trinidad.
Awarding Body: ESRC and AHRC (Trans-National Organised Crime Cross-disciplinary Innovation Grant)
Awarding Body: Social Science Research Council (Drugs, Security and Democracy Fellowship)
Awarding Body: Department for International Development (DfID)
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Examples of Recent Invited Lectures and Keynotes