Professor Claire Mercer

Professor Claire Mercer

Professor of Human Geography

Department of Geography and Environment

020 7107 5352
Room No
CKK 3.20
Office Hours
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English, Swahili
Key Expertise
class, suburbs, architecture, civil society, diaspora, Africa, Tanzania

About me

Claire Mercer is a human geographer working at the intersection of human geography and African studies. Her early work developed a critique of the NGO-ization of development, and subsequent work developed postcolonial approaches to civil society and diaspora. She is currently working on new research on peripheral urbanization in African cities. She has conducted research in Tanzania, Cameroon and the UK.

Claire’s research explores the significance of property to middle class reproduction in suburban Dar es Salaam. It examines how self-build housing on the urban periphery has become central to what it means to be middle class in contemporary Tanzania. In these new neighbourhoods, the acquisition of land and the construction of houses and suburban landscapes have become vehicles for the accumulation of material and aesthetic assets, creating new spaces of inequality at the urban periphery. The book based on this research, The suburban frontier: middle class construction in Dar es Salaam will be published as a monograph with University of California Press in Autumn 2024.

Claire’s current research further explores the relationship between self-build housing, urban change and urban economies in Africa. She is Principal Investigator on the ESRC-funded research project Home-Grown Growth in African Cities: How Self-Build Housing Drives Urban and Economic Growth in Ghana and Tanzania.

She is the author (with Ben Page, UCL; and Martin Evans, University of Chester) of Development and the African diaspora: place and the politics of home, published by Zed Books.

Claire is a member of the Editorial Board of International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, the International Advisory Board of Antipode, the Advisory Board of Critical African Studies, a Contributing Editor to Review of African Political Economy, and an Editorial Board Member of the Development Geography Section for Geography COMPASS.

Expertise Details

Africa; Urbanisation; Social class; Housing; Urban land; Tanzania; Civil society; Diaspora

Countries and regions

Africa; Cameroon; Tanzania

Sectors and industries

Policy and Regulatory Bodies

Selected publications

  • Mercer, C 'Landscapes of extended ruralisation: postcolonial suburbs in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’, forthcoming in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
  • Mercer, C. (2014) 'Middle class construction: domestic architecture, aesthetics and anxieties in Tanzania', The Journal of Modern African Studies, 52 (2), pp. 227-250,
  • Mercer, C. and Green, M. (2013) ‘Making civil society work: contracting, cosmopolitanism and community development in Tanzania’, Geoforum, 45, pp. 106-115 
  • Green, M., Kothari, U., Mercer, C. and Mitlin, D. (2012) ‘Saving, spending and future-making: time, discipline and money in development’, Environment and Planning A, 44, 7, pp. 1641-1656
  • Green, M., Mercer, C. and Mesaki S. (2012) ‘Faith in forms: civil society evangelism and development in Tanzania’, Development In Practice, 22, 5-6, pp. 721-734 
  • Mercer, C. (2012) ‘The privatization of aid?’ Review of African Political Economy, 131, pp. 145-147
  • Page, B. and Mercer, C. (2012) ‘Why do people do stuff? Reconceptualizing remittance behaviour in diaspora-development research and policy’, Progress in Development Studies, 12, 1, pp. 1-18
  • Jennings, M. and Mercer, C (2011) 'Rehabilitating nationalisms: conviviality and national consciousness in postcolonial Tanzania', Politique Africaine, 121, pp. 87-106
  • Page, B. and Mercer, C (2010) 'Diasporas and Development', in K. Knott and S. McLoughlin (eds) Diasporas: concepts, intersections, identities, Zed, London, pp.102-106
  • Mercer, C. & Page, B. (2010) 'African home associations in Britain: between political belonging and moral conviviality', African Diaspora, 3, 1, pp. 111-131 
  • Page, B., Evans, M., & Mercer, C (2010) 'Revisiting the politics of belonging in Cameroon', Africa, 80, 3, pp. 345-370
  • Page, B., Mercer, C., & Evans M (2009) 'African transnationalisms and diaspora networks: an introduction' Global Networks 9, 2, pp. 137-140
  • Mercer C, Page, B and Evans M (2009) 'Unsettling connections: transnational networks, development and African home associations', Global Networks, 9, 2, pp. 141-161