Current Directors and Trustees

Honorary Officers

Professor Justin Willis


Justin is Professor in History at Durham University in the UK. His involvement with BIEA goes back to 1986, when he was a graduate attachee; he has subsequently served as assistant director, honorary treasurer, director, and vice-president for research.  Justin’s work has largely been concerned with questions of identity and moral authority in eastern Africa in the last two centuries.  He is the author of Mombasa, the Swahili and the Making of the Mijikenda (Oxford, 1993); Potent Brews: A Social History of Alcohol in East Africa (Nairobi and Oxford, 2002); and (with Nic Cheeseman and Gabrielle Lynch) The Moral Economy of Elections in Africa: Democracy, Voting and Virtue (Cambridge, 2021). He was one of the editors of The Sudan Handbook (2011).

Professor Gabrielle lynch

Vice President for Research

Gabrielle Lynch is a Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Warwick. She is the author of over 30 articles and book chapters, and author or editor of five books, including I Say to You: Ethnic Politics and the Kalenjin in Kenya (University of Chicago Press, 2011) and Performances of Injustice: The Politics of Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in Kenya (Cambridge University Press, 2018). She is the Deputy Chair of the Review of African Political Economy, and wrote a regular column in Kenya’s Saturday Nation (2014-2018) and The East African (2015-2017). Gabrielle participated in the BIEA graduate attachment scheme in 2003, joined the BIEA Council as an elected member in 2010, and was appointed Vice President/Research in 2019. 

Rt hon Mr Mark Simmonds

Vice President for Finance & Development

Rt Hon Mark Simmonds was The Foreign & Commonwealth office Minister with responsibilities for Africa, the Caribbean, UK Overseas Territories, International Energy and Conflict Prevention. He served as a Member of the UK Parliament for 14 years.  He was also a Senior Advisor to The Prime Minister David Cameron. He focussed on driving and facilitating inward investment into Africa and the Commonwealth across a range of key economic sectors including Hydrocarbons, Financial Services, Healthcare, Infrastructure, Energy & Agriculture. He has a huge knowledge of the economic and political composition of African Governments, countries and regions.  He Chaired the UN Security Council on two occasions. He is Chairman of Africa Oil Week “The Davos of Africa’s Hydrocarbon Industry” the link between African Governments and the Private Sector.  He also Chairs the African Oil Week Advisory Board. He is additionally involved in clean technology for the agriculture, healthcare, transport, energy & extractive sectors. He now has several international roles.  Including Senior Advisor to International Investigation Firm, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Global Investment platform, Invest Africa, Senior Advisor to a Global Multi-Strategy Hedge Fund, and Senior Advisor to a large UK based Family Office.  Advisor to a Large US Private Equity Firm & Advisory Board Member of the Commonwealth Investment Council. He also has roles with not-for-profit organisations, including as Honorary Vice President of Flora & Fauna International.  He is a Trustee of the British Institute in East Africa and Board Member of Engender Health. He is a Member of her Majesty’s Privy Council. Mark is married with three children.

Professor Emma Hunter

Honorary Secretary

I am Professor of Global and African History at the University of Edinburgh. My research focuses on the intellectual, political and cultural history of eastern Africa. 

Mr Vinod Mandavia


Vinod Mandavia was IT Director for a Mobile Phones and Sim Card distribution company since 1999. He started his career in Accounts and progressed his way through to the post of IT Director. He spent last 8 years developing and managing a bespoke Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution for the Company before his retirement.

After retiring from the commercial world in June 2022 Vinod joined BIEA as Honorary Treasurer.

Current Directors and Trustees

Dr Ceri Ashley

Ceri is Head of the Endangered Material Knowledge Programme at the British Museum ( and Professor of Cultural Heritage at Nottingham Trent University. She did her PhD in archaeology at UCL examining the transition to farming in the Great Lakes region, and has led excavations in Kenya, Uganda, Botswana and South Africa. Ceri’s research focuses on material culture and social value, and how historical and political context shapes research.

Professor Ambreena Manji

Ambreena Manji is Professor of Land Law and Development at Cardiff. She was previously Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa (2010-2014). Her research is focused on Law and Society in Africa. It is strongly interdisciplinary and includes work on law in African literature. Her most recent book is The Struggle for Land and Justice in Kenya (James Currey/Boydell & Brewer 2020). Ambreena was president of the African Studies Association UK (2018-2020) and is currently a co-editor of African Affairs. She is a member of the Governing Council of the Arts and Humanities Council (AHRC). @AmbreenaManji.

Professor Wale Adebanwi

Wale Adebanwi is the Presidential Penn Compact Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, United States. Before joining UPenn, he was the Rhodes Professor of Race Relations at St Antony’s College, Oxford University, and the Director of the Oxford African Studies Centre. Before then he was a professor at the University of California-Davis, and lecturer at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Adebanwi received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and another Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge, UK. He is the author, editor and co-editor of several books including Yoruba Elites and Ethnic Politics in Nigeria, Everyday State and Democracy in Africa: Ethnographic Encounters, Elites and the Politics of Accountability in Africa, and The Political Economy of Everyday Life in Africa: Beyond the Margins. Adebanwi is an Honorary Research Associate at the African Studies Center, Oxford University, Member of the Advisory Board of the Johannesburg Institute of Advanced Studies, South Africa, and Member of the Steering Committee of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Oxford University.

Dr Sada Mire

Dr Sada Mire is a Swedish-Somali archaeologist, art historian and presenter. Dr Mire holds a PhD from UCL’s Institute of Archaeology, London. She is the only active Somali archaeologist, working in Somalia and Somaliland. Mire is currently completing three book projects. Her numerous publications include a dozen peer-reviewed articles in leading journals on some of her notable archaeological and theoratical contributions. She is a cultural theorist, who believes we need culture in times of war as articulated in her TEDxEuston talk Cultural Heritage a basic human need. Mire is one of 30 global writers and thinkers selected by the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts in 2017. In 2017, the NewScientist Magazine selected Dr Mire as one of its most Inspiring Women in Science of all time. Sada’s popular work has appeared in The Guardian and Africa Forum as well as presenting programs and news for the BBC, Channel Four and appeared in panels. She is also the presenter and writer of the Leiden University MOOC course ‘Heritage under Threat’ at Coursera. Dr Mire’s work can be found in major international media including field documentaries and features with CNN, National Geographic, Chanel Four, UK, Futura Channel, BBC News, BBC Radio 4, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, NewScientist, Discover Magazine, and Vanity Fair Magazine. Mire is Associate Professor in Heritage Studies (UCL East).

Dr Sharath Srinivasan

Sharath Srinivasan was founding Director and now Co-Director of the University of Cambridge’s Centre of Governance and Human Rights, as well as David and Elaine Potter Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies, and Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. He is an interdisciplinary and applied researcher currently working on issues at the intersection of digital technology and politics in Africa, alongside longstanding work on the politics of international interventions in wars in the Sudans. He lived and worked in Sudan in the early 2000s and has been researching on the region since then. He is a Fellow of the Rift Valley Institute and was previously Director of Studies for the Sudans Field Course. His book, When Peace Kills Politics: International Intervention and Unending Wars in the Sudans, was published in 2021(Hurst & Co, London; Oxford University Press, New York). He is also,co-editor (with Sarah Nouwen and Laura James) of the Proceedings of the British Academy volume, Making and Breaking Peace in Sudan and South Sudan: The Comprehensive Peace Agreement and Beyond (British Academy/Oxford University Press, 2020), and co-editor (with Stephanie Diepeveen and George Karekwaivanane) of Publics in Africa in a Digital Age (Routledge, 2021) which arose from a Journal of Eastern African Studies Special Issue. He is also the co-founder of non-profit research spinout, Africa’s Voices ( Originally from Australia, where he first studied law, he received his MPhil and DPhil in International Development from Oxford University.