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Department of Geography Political Geography

Sarah Byrne

Sarah Byrne

Research Focus

Drawing on the fields of political geography, political anthropology and political ecology, Sarah Byrne’s research explores the production of legitimacy, the negotiation and constitution of public authority and their relation to governmental and territorial strategies. Sarah’s research is particularly interested in contexts of multiple or overlapping authority claims, how these sediment in particular places and times, and in the kinds of citizens, states and lands that emerge in their intersections. With an empirical grounding in the mid-Western hills of Nepal, Sarah explores questions of legitimacy and authority in the particular post-war moment, embedded in a more longstanding “permanent transition.”


Defended in 2015, Sarah’s PhD is entitled: Becoming a Contender: Legitimacy, Authority and the Power of Making Do in Nepal’s ‘Permanent Transition’. The research was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the University of Zurich. Sarah currently works as a senior governance advisor with HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation.

Peer reviewed publications

Byrne, Sarah (in press). “‘From our side the rules are followed’: Authorising bureaucracy in Nepal’s ‘permanent transition.’” Modern Asian Studies.

Byrne, Sarah, Benedikt Korf and Andrea Nightingale (2016). ‘Making territory: War, post-war and the entangled scales of contested forest governance in mid-Western Nepal.’ Development and Change 47(6).

Byrne, Sarah and Bart Klem (2015). ‘Constructing legitimacy in post-war transition: The return of 'normal' politics in Nepal and Sri Lanka?’ Geoforum 66, 224-233.

Byrne, Sarah and Gitta Shrestha (2014). ‘A compromising consensus? Legitimising local government in post-conflict Nepal.’ International Development Planning Review 36(4), 435-453.

Carter, Jane, Sarah Byrne et al. (2014). ‘Learning about women's empowerment in the context of development projects: do the figures tell us enough?’ Gender and Development 22(2), 327-349.


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