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Dr Nicholas Bernards

Dr Nicholas Bernards

Contact details

Tel.: +44(0) 24765 28445
Room: R3.19 Ramphal Building

Advice and Feedback Hours, Term 1: Mondays, 3-4:00pm; Wednesdays 11:30-12:30pm

Associate Professor


I am a political economist with research and teaching interests in the past and present intersections of labour, finance, and global governance. My work is historically-oriented, with an emphasis on how long-run legacies of colonialism have shaped the present context of sustainable development practice.

Prior to starting at Warwick in 2017, I held a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Political Studies at Queen's University, Canada, funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I completed a PhD in International Relations at McMaster University in 2016.

I am currently the Equity Officer and Chair of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the School for Cross-Faculty Studies, and Deputy Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes in GSD.


I have published on a range of issues around labour, finance, and governance including colonial histories, agrarian finance, informal economies, technological change, and international labour regulation.

My first book, The Global Governance of Precarity (Routledge, 2018), examines the governance of irregular forms of labour in sub-Saharan Africa through a historical study of the activities of the International Labour Organization. I draw together analyses of ILO policy towards forced labour, unemployment, and social protection for irregular workers in sub-Saharan Africa from 1919-present.

My most recent book, currently in press, looks at the global history of efforts to extend financial services to the poorest. The book puts recent initiatives promoting the use of new financial technologies in the context of a longer history dating back to inter-war colonialism. The book draws on this history as a way of examining the limits of neoliberal models of development, showing how efforts to resolve poverty through the construction of new markets have often exacerbated existing patterns of uneven development. A Critical History of Poverty Finance: Neoliberal Failures in a Post-Colonial World will be published with Pluto Press in 2022.

I am also director of the Africa Research Network at Warwick.

PhD Supervision

I welcome inquiries from prospective PhD students interested in topics which intersect with any of my research interests.

I'm especially keen to hear from researchers interested in: critical political economy and political ecology approaches to sustainable development issues; global labour issues; global governance; technological change; finance and sustainable development; historical approaches.

Topics I'm currently supervising or advising:

  • Alternative finance for sustainable energy


2021-22 modules

Teaching Qualifications

Fellow - Higher Education Academy

Selected recent publications


Edited collections

  • (In press) 'Placing surplus populations in global capitalism: fluidity, difference, governance', special issue of Geoforum. [co-edited with Susanne Soederberg]
  • (2019) 'The changing technological infrastructures of global finance', special issue of Review of International Political Economy, 26 (5). [co-edited with Malcolm Campbell-Verduyn]

Journal articles

* For a complete list of publications, see here.

Recent blogs and commentary