Laura Smith


I am a postgraduate researcher in the Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment. I started my (part time) PhD on Uganda’s emerging oil industry in 2012 and worked as a research assistant on Dr James Van Alstine’s proejct ‘The Governance of Hydrocarbons in Uganda: Opportunities for Community-Driven Accountability in the Albertine Rift Region’ between 2012 and 2015. My PhD thesis is titled ‘The making of Uganda’s oil: an exploration of subnational dynamics in an emerging East African oil frontier’, and focuses on the role of international oil companies and civil society organisations in resource making at the subnational level in Uganda. 

Throughout my time at Leeds University I have worked in several teaching roles, including as a Teaching Fellow in the School of Earth and Environment in 2015 and as a Teaching Fellow in Global Development in the School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) from 2018 to 2019. I worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in POLIS between 2014 and 2020. I am the tutor for the Access to Leeds International Development pathway.

I am a member of the Centre for Global Development, the interdisciplinary research network of international development scholars at the Univeristy of Leeds, and a member of the RiDNet (PG Researchers in Development) management committee.

I am a mamber of the Social and Political Dimensions of Sustainability Research Group in SRI


Laura Smith 2019. Review of ‘Governing extractive industries: Politics, histories, ideas’ by Anthony Bebbington (2018) Oxford University Press in African Affairs, Volume 118, Issue 472, July 2019, Pages 599–601,

Laura Smith, Anne Tallontire and James Van Alstine 2018 'Development and the Private Sector: the challenges of extractives-led development in Uganda' in G. Honor Fagan and Ronaldo Munck (eds) Handbook of Development and Social Change. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar

Van Alstine J, Smith L. 2018. The EITI and fair taxation: Exploring the linkages. In: Business, Civil Society and the 'New' Politics of Corporate Tax Justice: Paying a Fair Share?. , pp. 200-218

Laura Smith and James Van Alstine 2018. Neoliberal Oil Development in Uganda in Wiegratz, J, Martiniello, G and Greco, E (eds) Neoliberal Uganda. London: Zed Books 

James Van Alstine, Jacob Manyindo, Laura Smith 2017. The Governance of Hydrocarbons in Uganda: creating opportunities for multi-stakeholder engagement SRI Briefing paper, March 2017

Laura Smith 2014. Review of 'Flammable Societies: Studies on the Socio-economics of Oil and Gas', J.A. McNeish, O. Logan (Eds.). Pluto Press, London (2012) in The Extractives Industries and Society Vol 1 (2), November 2014, Pages 364–365 doi:10.1016/j.exis.2014.07.001

Manyindo, J., Van Alstine, J., AmanigaRuhanga, I., Mukuru, E., Smith, L., Nantongo, C., Dyer, J. 2014. The Governance of Hydrocarbons in Uganda: Creating Opportunities for Multi-Stakeholder Engagement. Maendeleo ya Jamii, Kampala, Uganda.

James Van Alstine; Jacob Manyindo; Laura Smith; Jami Dixon; Ivan AmanigaRuhanga, 2014. 'Resource governance dynamics: The challenge of ‘new oil’ in Uganda', Resources Policy Vol 40 June 2014

Laura Smith 2007. ‘The Struggle for Western Sahara’ in Keenan J (ed), ‘The Sahara: Past, Present and Future’, pp. 268-282 Oxon: Routledge 2007

Laura Smith 2005. 'The struggle for Western Sahara: what future for Africa's last colony?' Journal of North African Studies, 10 / 3-4 pp 545-563

Research interests

  • Political economy of resources and development
  • Corporate social responsibility and international development
  • Social justice


  • <p>BA (Hons) International Business Studies, University of Northumbria, 1997</p>
  • MA Peace Studies, University of Bradford, 2005
  • Cambridge CELTA, 2009