Dr. Marlea Clarke

Dr. Marlea Clarke
Associate Professor
Political Science
Office: DTB A344

PhD (2006) (York)

Area of expertise

Comparative politics, political economy of development, Global South (Africa)

Fall 2021 term office hours: Wednesdays 10:30-11 am (in person) OR Mondays and Wednesdays 4-5 pm via Zoom OR by appointment. Zoom link is available on Brightspace.

Marlea Clarke (BA, University of Calgary; MA and PhD York University) is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria. Prior to joining the department in 2010, she was a post-doctoral fellow and lecturer in Labour Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton (2005-08), and worked as an educational specialist with the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa (2009-10). Between 1996-2003 she lived in Southern Africa, where she worked as a researcher and educator, much of this time based at the Labour and Enterprise Policy Research Group (Institute of Development and Labour Law, University of Cape Town), where she remains affiliated as a Research Associate.

She specialises in Comparative politics and the Global South (Africa). Her broad research interests are globalisation, employment and labour market restructuring from a comparative and feminist political economy perspective. Her research has focused on African political economy and development, with a particular focus on post-colonial transitions to democracy, state and labour market restructuring, state-civil society relations, and labour movements and community resistance in South Africa in both contemporary and historical contexts. She welcomes the opportunity to work with graduate students interested in any of these areas of study.

Her published work includes contributions to Third World Quarterly; Work Organisation, Labour and Globalisation; Canadian Journal of African Studies; Work, Employment and Society; and Law Democracy & Development. Dr. Clarke’s book (jointly authored with Wayne Lewchuk and Alice de Wolff) titled Working Without Commitments: The Health Impacts of Precarious Employment, examines the implications of rising precariousness in the contexts of social exclusion and workers’ health and well-being in Canada (Montreal & Kingston: McGill Queen’s University Press, 2011).

She is the co-editor (with Carolyn Bassett) of two special issues of the Journal of Contemporary African Studies: ‘Legacies of Liberation: Post-colonial struggles for a democratic Southern Africa’ (2014) and ‘The struggle for transformation in South Africa: unrealized dreams, persistent hopes’ (2016).

She is currently working on a new project (2015-2020) funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) titled: Fast Fashion and decent work: labour standards in clothing production networks in sub-Saharan Africa. This project builds on her previous work on labour and global commodity chains to explore labour standards and emerging regional trade networks in the garment industry in sub-Saharan Africa.

In her free time she can be found cycling, backpacking or hiking in the Canadian Rockies.

  • African Politics (South and Southern Africa focus)
  • Comparative politics (Africa)
  • Political economy of development
  • Labour and social movements (South Africa)
  • Employment, precarious work and labour market restructuring
  • Globalisation and democratisation in Africa
  • Feminist political economy
  • Labour and migration (Africa)

Dr. Clarke teaches courses on African politics, the political economy of development, and comparative politics.

Teaching 2021-22

Fall 2021:

Spring 2022:

Previous courses
  • POLI 210: Comparative Politics
  • POLI 217: Development and Political Change
  • POLI 327: Politics of Development
  • POLI 338: Approaches to Political Analysis
  • POLI 373: African Politics
  • POLI 473: Advanced Topics in African Politics and Political Economy
  • POLI 505/605: Problems of Political Analysis


  • Working Without Commitments: The Health Impacts of Precarious Employment (jointly authored with Wayne Lewchuk and Alice de Wolff). Montreal & Kingston: McGill Queen’s University Press, 2011.

Special Editor of Journals:

  • Journal of Contemporary African Studies (2014) 32(3): 281-403. (Special Issue on ‘Legacies of Liberation: Post-colonial struggles for a democratic Southern Africa’) with Carolyn Bassett.
  • Journal of Contemporary African Studies (2016) 34(2): 183-308. (Special Issue on ‘The struggle for transformation in South Africa: unrealized dreams, persistent hopes’) with Carolyn Bassett.

Journal Articles:

  • "South African Trade Unions and Globalization: Going for the High Road, Getting Stuck on the Low Road" (co-authored with Carolyn Bassett), Work, Organisation, Labour and Globalisation 2:1 (2008).
  • "The Zuma Affair, labour and the future of democracy in South Africa" (co-authored with Carolyn Bassett), Third World Quarterly 29:4 (2008).
  • "Working Without Commitments: Precarious Employment and Health" (jointly written with Wayne Lewchuk and Alice de Wolff), Work, Employment and Society, 22:3 (2008).
  • "‘This just isn’t sustainable’: Precarious Employment, Stress and Workers’ Health" (jointly written with Wayne Lewchuk, Alice de Wolff and Andy King), International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, Special Issue ‘Work and Mental Health’. 30 (2007).
  • "Ten Years of Labour Market Reform in South Africa: Real Gains for Workers?" Canadian Journal of African Studies, Special Issue: A Decade of Democracy in Southern Africa, 1994-2004, 38:3 (2005).
  • "The Basic Conditions of Employment Act Amendments: More Questions than Answers" (co-authored with Shane Godfrey), Law Democracy & Development, 6:1 (2002).

Chapters in books:

  • "Supporting the ‘elite’ transition in South Africa: Policing in a violent, neoliberal democracy." In Michelle D. Bonner, Guillermina Seri, Mary Rose Kubal and Michael Kempa (Eds.), Police Abuse in Contemporary Democracies. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
  • "Social Policy in South Africa: Cushioning the blow of the recession?" In Stephen McBride, Gerard Boychuk and Rianne Mahon (Eds.), The Global Crisis and Social Policy. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2015.
  • "Precarious Employment and Occupational Health and Safety in Ontario", (with Wayne Lewchuk and Alice de Wolff),In John Peters (Ed.), Boom, Bust and Crisis: Labour, Corporate Power and Politics in Canada, Halifax: Fernwood Publishing. pp. 163-77 (2012).
  • "Precarious Employment and the Internal Responsibility System: Some Canadian Experiences" (jointly written with Wayne Lewchuk and Alice de Wolff). In David Walters (Eds). Workplace Health and Safety: International Perspectives on Worker Representation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
  • "Incorporating or Marginalising Casual Workers? Ten Years of Labour Market Reforms under the ANC." In A.H. Jeeves and G.C. Cuthbertson, (eds), Fragile Freedom: Democracy’s First Decade in South Africa. Pretoria: UNISA Press, 2009.
  • "Challenging Labour Market Flexibilisation: Union and Community-based Struggles in Post-Apartheid South Africa." In Marcus Taylor (ed), The Global Economy Contested: Investment, Production and Labour. New York: Routledge, 2008.
  • "The Working Poor: Labour Market Reform and Unprotected Workers in South Africa’s Retail Sector." In Magnus Ryner and Matt Davies, (eds), Poverty and the Production of World Politics: Unprotected Workers in the Global Political Economy. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2006.
  • "Challenging Segmentation in South Africa’s Labour Market: ‘Regulated Flexibility’ or Flexible Regulation?" In Leah Vosko and Jim Stanford, (eds), Challenging the Market: The Struggle to Regulate Work and Income. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004.
  • Selected research reports:

    • "Capturing the Gains? Report on the clothing and textile industry in Mauritius", submitted to "Capturing the Gains: economic and social upgrading in global production networks", based at the School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester.
    • "Labour Law Reform Programme in Tanzania: First Report of the Task Force on Employment Standards, Collective Bargaining, Dispute Resolution and Labour Institutions" (written with Halton Cheadle), Commissioned research for the Tanzanian Government and International Labour Organisation (ILO). 2003.
    • "Global influences on macro-economic policy and practice in post-apartheid South Africa’s agricultural sector" (co-authored with Stephen Greenberg), Commissioned research for Oxfam UK and the Women on Farms Project (South African). 2003.
    • "Globalisation, Production and Poverty: Macro, Meso and Micro Levels Globalisation, Democratisation and Regulation of the South African Labour Market" (jointly written with Shane Godfrey and Jan Theron), Commissioned research paper, part of a comparative project funded by the UK Department for International Development. 2003.
    • "Employment Standards in South Africa: A Country Study" (jointly written with Shane Godfrey and Jan Theron), Commissioned research report for the International Labour Organisation (ILO), published on their website. 2002.

    Selected articles in popular publications and magazines:

    • "Alliance Politics and the Zuma Affair" (co-authored with Carolyn Bassett), Relay, Issue #16 (2007).
    • "Fool me Twice? Labour Politics in South Africa" (co-authored with Carolyn Bassett), Canadian Dimension, Vol. 38, No. 5. September / October (2004).
    • "Falling out of the loop? Protection of casual and contract workers in the Commercial, Distributive Sectoral Determination" (co-authored with Bridget Kenny), Bargaining Indicators, Vol. 7 (2002).
    • "University Workers: Excluding them Out" (co-authored with Bridget Kenny), Southern Africa Report. Vol. 15 No. 4 (2000)
    • "COSATU Pays the Price" co-authored with Carolyn Bassett) Southern Africa Report. Vol. 15 No. 1 (1999).


I welcome graduate students interested in studying topics linked to any of my own research areas. I especially encourage applications from students interested in the following topics: labour and global commodity chains; clothing production in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA); trade policy (linked to the garment industry); and, country specific studies focused on the clothing industry (or employment conditions for formal and informal workers in the sector) in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius (or other African countries). Canadian and international students are encouraged to apply.

Graduate student funding beginning in September 2017

Up to three Graduate Scholarships (one at the PhD level, and two at the MA level) are available in the Department of Political Science beginning in September 2017 to work on a project, funded through a SSHRC Insight Grant (2015-2020) with Dr. Marlea Clarke (UVic) and Dr. Shane Godfrey (University of Cape Town), on employment conditions and regional production networks in the garment industry under the supervision of Dr. Marlea Clarke. The project explores the integration of sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries into globalised apparel networks since the end of the Multi-Fibre Arrangement (MFA); emerging regional production networks and related backward linkages to the cotton and textiles industries; and, labour standards for workers in these regional production networks. It is intended that students will work on one country case study or one specific topic linked to this broader project as part of their MA / Ph.D. dissertations.

PhD students will be funded through a combination of fellowships, research assistance, and teaching assistance up to a value of $20,000/year for four years (a fifth year is possible). MA students will be funded through a combination of fellowships, research assistance, and teaching assistance to a value of $18,000/year one year, with the possibility of renewal for a second year. Successful applicants are eligible for research funding for one research trip to SSA during the period of study, and some additional funds are also available for conference attendance. Students with a background on related topics, training in political economy or labour studies, or specific skills or training in qualitative or quantitative research are encouraged to apply.

Applicants must apply for the MA / PhD program in the Department of Political Science and indicate an interest in working on this project.  Interested students should consult the department’s website to learn more about UVic’s graduate program, and can contact Dr. Marlea Clarke for more information: mjclarke@uvic.ca