Dr Gavin Capps


I am a Senior Lecturer in Economics. Before joining Kingston in January 2019, I was a Senior Researcher in the Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP) at the University of the Witswatersrand, where from 2012 I led the Mining and Rural Transformation in Southern Africa (MARTISA) project, funded by the Ford Foundation. I hold a PhD in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Politics (2010), and have previously taught at Wits University, LSE, SOAS, Open University and University of Central Lancashire.

My research interests are in natural resource extraction and development, with special reference to the South African platinum mining industry and its impacts on communal tenure, customary authority and rural livelihoods in the former 'homelands'. I am also interested in contending theories of land rent, agrarian change, local resource governance and post-colonial development, and approach these issues from a critical political economy perspective that pays particular attention to questions of historical specificity and geographical variegation.

My work has previously been published in academic journals such as the Review of African Political Economy, Journal of Peasant Studies and Journal of Agrarian Change, where it was awarded the Bernstein and Byres Prize for best article in 2016. It has also informed pro-poor strategic litigation and social justice activism in rural South Africa. At present, I am writing up the results of the MARTISA project in two book-length studies: the first on land, labour and financialisation in the post-apartheid platinum industry, and the second on the new dynamics of rural accumulation and dispossession currently unfolding in the mineral-rich chieftaincies of South Africa's northern provinces.

I welcome PhD applications in the broad fields of natural resource governance and economic development, both globally and in Africa, as well as international development more generally. Please email me for an informal discussion.

Academic responsibilities

Senior Lecturer in Economics


  • PhD in Development Studies, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Post Graduate Certificate in Education (Further and Higher Education), University of Wales, Cardiff
  • BScEcon Development Studies (First Class Single Hons), University of Wales, Swansea

Teaching and learning


Selected publications

Capps, Gavin (2018) Custom and Exploitation: Rethinking the Origins of the Modern African Chieftaincy in the Political Economy of Colonialism, Journal of Peasant Studies 45:5/6 969-993.

Capps, Gavin (2018) The Political Economy of Platinum: Lonmin in Context. Chapter in Maren Grimm and Jakob Krameritsch eds. Business as Usual After Marikana: Corporate Power and Human Rights. Mandelbaum/Jacana.

Capps, Gavin and Malindi, Stanley (2017) Dealing with the Tribe: The Politics of the Bapo/Lonmin Royalty-to-Equity Conversion. SWOP Working Paper 8. SWOP: University of the Witswatersrand.

Capps, Gavin (2016) Tribal-landed Property: The Value of the Chieftaincy in Contemporary Africa. Journal of Agrarian Change 16:3, pp. 452-477.

Capps, Gavin and Campling, Liam (2016). An Interview with Henry Bernstein.  Journal of Agrarian Change, 16:3, pp.370-389

Capps, Gavin (2015) Labour in the Time of Platinum. (Editorial Introduction to Special Issue on ‘White gold: New Class and Community Struggles on the South African Platinum Belt', edited by G. Capps, D. Moodie and R. Bush). Review of African Political Economy 42:146, 497-507.

Capps, Gavin and Mnwana, Sonwabile (2015) Claims from below: Platinum and the Politics of Land in the Bakgatla Traditional Authority Area. Review of African Political Economy, 42:146, 606-624.

Mnwana, Sonwabile and Capps, Gavin (2014) No Chief Ever Bought a Piece of Land! Struggles over Property, Community and Mining in the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela Traditional Authority Area, North West Province. SWOP Working Paper 3. SWOP: University of the Witswatersrand.

Capps, Gavin (2012) A Bourgeois Reform with Social Justice? The Contradictions of the Mineral Development Bill and Black Economic Empowerment in the South African Platinum Mining Industry. Review of African Political Economy. 39:132, 315-333.

Capps, Gavin (2012) Victim of its Own Success? The Platinum Mining Industry and the Apartheid Mineral Property System in South Africa's Political Transition. Review of African Political Economy. 39: 131, 63-84.

Capps, Gavin (2005) Redesigning the Debt Trap. International Socialism Journal. (2) 107, 33-54.

Panayiotopoulos, Prodromos and Capps, Gavin. Eds. (2001) World Development: An Introduction. London: Pluto Press.

Capps, Gavin, Doogan, Alison and Panayiotopoulos, Prodromos (1996) African Society and Development: Winners and Losers South of the Sahara. Oxford: Oxfam Publishing. (104 pp).