Dr Janet Townsend


I am delighted to be a member of the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology with its commitment to international studies, women's studies and development studies, and to Newcastle University's Developing Areas Research Network (see our page). I retired from the University of Durham and am now a Visiting Fellow here.

Personal Information

Janet is a feminist who engages in participatory research with poor women in low income countries. She is concerned with issues of poverty, power, self-empowerment and the (dangerous) power of academics, particularly those in prosperous countries.

Her present research is with Professor Diane Richardson, Professor Nina Laurie and Dr Meena Poudel, with women in Nepal who have been trafficked to Mumbai (India) for sexual purposes and have subsequently returned to Nepal, where most are rejected by their families, their communities and the state.  



Her roles and responsibilities on this project: 

Her role has included attending some interviewing in Nepal but is mainly limited to wide background reading for the project and above all contributing to the analysis of interviews. 


For many years, she worked with pioneer colonists in the rainforests of South America, particularly Colombia. Then she engaged in participatory research with the women pioneers, who were enthusiastic about the work of non-government organisations (NGO)s. This led her on to seek to understand the extraordinary growth and dynamism of NGOs today, resulting in two books and many articles with her research colleagues. This background has given her wide experience with NGOs and with interviewing the poorest, professionals and the powerful. 

D.Phil. Oxon.

Previous positions 

She retired as a Reader in Geography at the University of Durham in 2004, after 34 years, and came to Newcastle part-time; she has now retired from Newcastle but is a Visiting Fellow.


She was a member of the Institute of British Geographers until the merger with the Royal Geographical Society. She is still a member of their Women and Geography Study Group and Developing Areas Research Group, and of the Women and Development Group of the Development Studies Association.


She is fluent in Spanish, speaking, reading and writing

Future Research

Further analysis and writing from the ESRC project above.

Postgraduate Supervision

'Development' NGOs, North and South in low income countries
Women's self-empowerment in low income countries
Masculinities in low-income countries
Interdisciplinary research

Esteem Indicators

2005 Royal Geographical Society: the Edward Heath Prize for geographical research in Women and Development.

Funding received

Various, from ESRC and DFID.
Recently, for work with NGOs,
DFID grant for £130,000 February 1999 to January 2001 (Principal Investigator)
DFID grant for £98,948, February 2003 to March 2005 (co-applicant)