Dr Alexander Beresford

Associate Professor in African Politics

I joined the School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Leeds in 2011 after completing my Doctorate in the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh earlier that year.

My research interests include African labour, neoliberal restructuring, the political role of the organised working class and the relationship between trade unions and social democratic parties. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, my Doctoral thesis examined the trajectories of class politics in post-apartheid South Africa. In particular, the thesis explored the political role of the organised working class with a focus on the Tripartite Alliance between the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). I worked with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in the energy sector to complete the research which, among other things, investigated the organisational challenges facing the trade unions in the post-apartheid era and how the unions are coping with the challenges presented by the ANC’s embrace of neoliberalism and the accelerated processes of class formation that have resulted.

South Africa's current political upheavals are the most significant since the transition from apartheid. Its powerful trade unions are playing a central role, and the political direction they take will have huge significance for how we understand the role of labour movements in struggles for social justice in the twenty-first century. I have recently published my monograph exploring these issues: South Africa’s Political Crisis: Fractured Class Struggles and Unfinished Liberation. I have also published articles exploring the political economy of the Nelson Mandela’s leadership and the dynamics of corruption and capitalist development in contemporary South Africa.

I’ve blogged on the African Arguments website and The Conversation and can be followed on Twitter: @A_Beresford My research has been widely disseminated in international media, where my fieldwork data and conceptual innovations have been widely discussed and debated in leading broadsheet newspapers such as the Mail & GuardianFinancial MailDaily Maverick and Business Day. I have also been regularly interviewed by the Economist and Time Magazine.

Recent publications


A Beresford (2016) South Africa’s Political Crisis: Unfinished liberation and fractured class struggles Palgrave: Basingstoke


E-L Anderson and A Beresford 2016 “Infectious Injustice: The Political Origins of the Ebola Outbreak in Sierra Leone” Third World Quarterly 37 (3). pp. 468-486 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01436597.2015.1103175

A Beresford 2015 “Power, Patronage, and Gatekeeper Politics in South Africa” African Affairs 114 (455). pp. 226-248 http://afraf.oxfordjournals.org/content/114/455/226.full.pdf+html

A Beresford 2015 “A Responsibility to Protect Africa from the West? South Africa and the NATO Intervention in Libya” International Politics 52 (3). pp. 288-304 http://www.palgrave-journals.com/ip/journal/v52/n3/pdf/ip201511a.pdf

A Beresford 2014 “Nelson Mandela and the Politics of Unfinished Liberation” Review of African Political Economy 41 (140). pp. 297-305

A Beresford 2012 “The Politics of Regenerative Nationalism in South Africa” Journal of Southern African Studies 38 (4). pp. 863 884 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03057070.2012.744872

A Beresford 2012 "Organised Labour and the Politics of Class Formation in South Africa" Review of African Political Economy 39 (134). pp. 569-589http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03056244.2012.738417

A Beresford 2009 "Comrades 'Back on Track'? The Durability of the Tripartite Alliance in South Africa." African Affairs 108 (432). pp. 391-412 http://afraf.oxfordjournals.org/content/108/432/391.short

PhD Students


Dr Nyambura Wambugu ‘Demilitarising South Sudan’


SarahJoy Leitch ‘Traditional authorities and land reform in Zimbabwe’

Jessica Rucell ‘Health reform in South Africa’

Ruth Bookbinder ‘Corruption and the state-business complex in South Africa’


Contact and CV

Telephone: +44 (0)113 343 6803

E-mail: a.beresford@leeds.ac.uk

Curriculum Vitae