School of Social Sciences

Michael Francis

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Michael Francis

Last Updated 3 years ago

Michael Francis

Position Lecturer 
Discipline Economic History and Development Studies
Phone 031 260 3762
Campus Howard College Campus
Office Address MTB 254 

Degrees Held

  • PhD

Profile (Experience, Accomplishments, Awards, etc.):


  • I am an economic anthropologist and I have been conducting socio-economic and cultural research in Africa since 2002. My work is both academic and applied. I currently teach at The University of KwaZulu-Natal in Economic History and Development Studies and supervise student across a range of disciplines in Economic History, Development Studies, Conflict Transformation and Public Policy
  • My academic research deals with development theory and practice, indigenous peoples, the socio-economics of conflict and violence, research methodologies, and I also perform anthropological research on ethnicity and identity and how that articulates with development and the greater political economy as revealed in social strife, conflict and radical social change. I have conducted research with multiple communities across Africa including indigenous peoples in the Kalahari, Rwandan and Zambia agriculturalists, as well as I have taught in anthropology, public policy, cultural studies and integrated studies from undergraduate to post-graduate


I am a recognized photographer and have supplied photographs for:

  • Canadian Anthropological Association Webpage (various)
  • Book Cover for Francis, S. (2011) Political elite formation and change in KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature, Leiden; Biggleswade: Brill.
  • Francis, Michael (2004)Pictures from the WSF in Porto Alegre.Centre for Civil Society.,43,10,1597
  • Audley Travel 2006-2008– Various brochures and website photographs

Research Interests:

  • Academic – Ethnicity and identity; rural lives and livelihoods; social change and development; development theory and development practice; violence; conflict and precursors to conflict; economics of war and conflict; visual anthropology; photography; ethnography; research methods; post colonial studies; Africa – South Africa; Botswana; Zambia; Rwanda, Lesotho and the DR Congo.
  • Applied – Socio-economic conditions and development; Resettlement (Equator Principles; Best Practice); Corporate Social Responsibility; Qualitative data collection and analysis; Quantitative data collection and analysis; Mining and resource development; HIV and Aids; Indigenous peoples and rights, various locations.

Teaching Areas:


  • I currently teach at The University of KwaZulu-Natal in Economic History and Development Studies and supervise student across a range of disciplines in Economic History, Development Studies, Conflict Transformation and Public Policy. Courses situate Africa within the world economy as well as explore the roots of the current problems of persistent poverty and underdevelopment.



  • Economic History and Development Studies 102 – Globalisation then and Now
  • Economic History and Development Studies 305 – Economic change in tropical Africa
  • Economic History and Development Studies 306 – Regional economic change


  • Economic History 701 – Concepts and Methods
  • Economic History 705 – Global governance and African political economy


  • Economic History 801 – Concepts and Methods
  • Economic History 805 – Global governance and African political economy
  • Economic History 806 – Issues in African Economic History

Previous courses taught At Athabasca University


  • Anthropology 354: Language and culture
  • Sociology and Anthropology 384: The family in world perspective
  • Anthropology 408: Method and theory in anthropology


  • Master of Arts Integrated Studies 602: Researching Society and Culture
  • Master of Arts Integrated Studies 704/705: Student project supervisions
  • Master of Arts Integrated Studies 736: Special topics in Integrated Studies

Previous Courses taught at UKZN

  • Public Policy 701 Research Methodology in a Policy Context.
  • Culture, Communication and Media Studies 712: Imaging the ‘Same’ and ‘Other’: Visual Anthropology/ Documentary Film taught at UKZN for CCMS for two years



  • Dunia, H. (Current) Economic livelihoods in a conflict zone of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (working title). PhD Thesis in Conflict Transformation, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Makanishe, T. (Current) Child labour in the gold mines of the DRC: An economic ethnography. PhD Thesis in Economic History, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Dube, K. (Current) The Global-Local Interface in Adolescent Sexual Health: A Sub-Saharan Africa Study on Challenges in Translating Guidelines into Policy and Action. PhD Thesis in Public policy, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Pophiwa, N. (Current) The dynamics and impact of cross-border shopping by Zimbabweans in South Africa’s border town of Musina in the post-2000 crisis period. PhD Thesis in Economic History, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Morufu, M.S. (2014-Present) Policy Pathways to Promote Eco-innovation Activities in Africa: A Case of Nigerian and South African Manufacturing Sectors, PhD in Public Policy.
  • Suako, Y. (2014-Present) Political and socio-economic effects of armed conflict in Ivory Coast, 2002-2011. PhD in Conflict Transformation
  • Park, J. (2013-Present) A comparative study of South Korean and Tanzanian development paths from 1960 to present. PhD in Economic History.


  • Oderhwa, M. (Current) Informal Economic development: An exploration of the vocation of the DR Congo Migrants Informal Traders in Durban central. MA Thesis, Economic History, University of KwaZulu-Natal.


  • Chikowore, S. (Under examination) The State, Land Reform, Old Farmers and New Farmers: An Assessment of the Farming Strategies in the Shangani Area (Zimbabwe). MA Thesis, Economic History, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Dunia, H. (2013) The struggle for daily life in Durban: Congolese migrants’ economic survival strategies. MA Thesis University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Community Involvement/Outreach:

  • I have been involved with socio-economic development projects in a variety of locations. I have advised on corporate social responsibility along with community workshops and participatory development planning for organizations and businesses. I also offer advice on best practice for involuntary resettlement for a variety of industries.

Publications/Selected Publications (2011 – 2013):

Journal Articles:

  • Olaniyan, A., Francis M. and Okeke-Uzodike, U. (2015) “The cattle are ‘Ghanaians’ but the herders are strangers”: farmer-herder conflicts, expulsion policy and pastoralist question in Agogo, Ghana. African Studies Quarterly. No Issue no. yet
  • Bisimwa, T. and Francis, M. (under review) ‘Breaking the conflict/poverty bond: The problem of Conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’. Submitted to Social .
  • Mulwo, A.K., Tomaselli, K. and Francis, M. (2012) ‘HIV/AIDS and Discourses of Denial in sub-Saharan Africa: An Afro-optimist response?’ International Journal of Cultural Studies 15(6).

Complete Research Record:


  • 2012-2014 collaboration with Dr Suzanne Francis. Contested Claims of the Kalahari: The Politics of Modernity, Identity and Development. Strategic Funding Grant University of KwaZulu-Natal.
  • 2010-2012 Research Incentive Grant Athabasca University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • 2004-2005 ‘On the borders of the Zulu Nation: Multiple identities among Zulus of San ancestry’. Wenner-Grenn Foundation for Anthropological Fieldwork Research Grant.


  • Francis, M. (2010) ‘The Crossing: The invention of tradition among San descendents of the Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa’. African Identities 8(1): 39-52.
  • Francis, M and Francis, S. (2010) ‘Representation and Misrepresentation: San regional advocacy and the Global imagery’. Critical Arts 24(2): 210-227.
  • Francis, M. (2009a) ‘Contested histories: A critique in the Rock Art’ Visual Anthropology 22(4): 327-343.
  • Francis, M. (2009b) ‘Silencing the past: Historical and archaeological colonisation of the Southern San KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa’. Anthropology Southern Africa Vol 32 (3 & 4): 106-116.

Book Chapters

  • Tomaselli, K, Dyll, L and Francis, M. (2008) “Self” and “Other”: Auto-Reflexive and Indigenous Ethnography in Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies. Sage Publications.
  • Francis, M. (2010) ‘Cultural invention of the Southern San’ in HK Anheier and YR Isar, (eds) Heritage, Memory, Identity. Cultures and Globalization series, #4.
  • Francis, M. (2009) ‘San [Abatwa/‘Bushman’] Eland Ceremony [southern Africa] in Encyclopaedia of Social Movement Media. Sage Publications.


  • Francis, M (2007) PhD Thesis: ‘Explorations in ethnicity and social change among San descendents of the Drakensberg Mountains, KwaZulu-Natal’. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.
  • Francis, M (2003) MA Thesis: ‘Interpretations of development: anthropology and the development encounter in rural KwaZulu-Natal’. Culture, Communication and Media Studies, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa.
  • Francis, M (2001) Honour’s Thesis: ‘Sustainable development in Africa: a post modern challenge?’. Anthropology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.