Ben Eyre


Personal profile

Key Research Interests

In broad terms my research focusses on global development, climate change, and sustainable business.

My current project (Leverhulme-funded) explores investment in ‘climate smart’ agriculture in East Africa and the role of digital technologies, as well as gene editing. This embraces collaboration with behavioural economists and plant scientists.  My long term ethnographic research contributes to an interdisciplinary approach by exploring the importance of assumed 'beneficiaries' agency.

Recent research (ERC-funded) explored green finance and sustainable investing through case studies including the IFC 'Forests Bond' in Voi, Kenya and a development impact bond (DIB) for sustainable agriculture in Amazonian Peru, as well as broader critical analysis of the role of private capital in sustainable development. This remains an area of theoretical interest.

Earlier research (ESRC-funded) explored 'philanthrocapitalist' initiatives to transform cattle-keeping and promote a value chain approach to the dairy industry among Nyakyusa agro-pastoralists in Rungwe District in South-West Tanzania, and before that (ultra-)high-net-worth philanthropy in the City of London. 

Areas of Expertise

East Africa; international development; climate change; sustainable business; impact investing; sustainable finance; digital technologies; ag tech; ethnography; ethnography; social anthropology


Before returning to academia I worked for a decade as an advisor to sustainability and impact investors as well as philanthropic foundations. My decision to undertake long-term research stemmed from concerns about the quality of evidence of impact I claimed to have as a routine part of my job, and in particular the absence of 'beneficiary' perspectives or voices in it. Alongside theoretical interests grounded in a belief that more fundamental research is required, I continue to work with a small number of investors and philanthropists on the contribution of critical analysis and ethnographic methods and theory to the equitable and effective allocation of impact capital. For example, new work convenes space for conversation between creative young voices and international actors who aim to improve their lives.

Teaching Interests

I teach on the following modules:

  • Global Challenges: Issues and Concepts in Development Studies (Foundation Year)
  • Development Policy Management (year 2)
  • Social Analysis for International Development (Masters)

I previously taught Anthropology of Sustainability (Masters) and Future Earth, Climate Change and Societal Challenges (Multi-disciplinary Graduate Course) at the University of Bologna, and Introduction to Business Anthropology (Year 1) and Materiality and Representation (Year 2) at the University of Manchester. I have also guest lectured at Northwestern University's Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI).

Academic Background

My interdisciplinary background informs my current research. I have a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Oxford and an MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology from University College London. I obtained my PhD in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Manchester. I then worked as a Research Fellow at the University of Bologna, where I remain a research associate of the Social and Cultural Anthropology Lab.