Faculty Biography

William F. Fisher

William F. Fisher, Ph.D.

Associate Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies
Professor of International Development and Social Change
Department of International Development, Community, and Environment
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610-1477

Phone: (508) 421-3765
Email: wfisher@clarku.edu
Faculty profile about Professor Fisher


Ph.D., Columbia University

Current Research and Teaching

Anthropology, social movements and development, global civil society, NGOs, involuntary resettlement, ethnicity, political economy, and South Asia.

From 1992 to 2000 Professor Fisher taught in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, where he was Director of Graduate Studies in Anthropology and a Dillon Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. He also taught at Princeton University and Columbia, where he served as assistant director of Columbia's Center for South Asian Studies and directed the Economic and Political Development specialization at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs. His research centers on the social and environmental impact of large dams, forced displacement, transnational advocacy, competition over natural resources and non-governmental organizations. His research and work for such agencies as CARE, USAID, and the UNDP have taken him to several continents. Other research activities, mostly in South Asia, include ethnic associations, competition for natural resources, non-governmental associations, and the role of participation and community-based institutions in development planning and action.

William Fisher’s first sabbatical (2007) since coming to Clark provided him with the opportunity for new research and travel. This past year he gave lectures, presentations and media interviews in Nepal, Kenya, France, and San Jose. In January 2007, he participated in the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya and, while there, enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with IDCE alums. During the past year he has been the co-director of the Difficult Dialogues program at Clark University and is heading the Clark partnership of aids2031.

As co-convener of the aids2031 Social Drivers Working Group, Fisher has organized numerous research meetings in Worcester and Washington, D.C. He is the principal investigator of two grants from UNAIDS awarded to the Social Drivers Group totaling more than $650,000. Fisher is also the principle investigator for two additional grants from UNAIDS totaling more than $2.7 million that fund the aids2031 Project Management Unit (PMU). This unit is staffed with four full-time employees, several part-time staff, and graduate student assistants. Offices for the project are in both Worcester and New York, where the PMU coordinates the research and products of the nine diverse aids2031 working groups. For more information, please visit www.aids2031.org.

Fisher is also continuing his research on post-conflict Nepal and will be returning to Nepal for research in the summer of 2007 and in 2008. Recent work includes forthcoming chapters on “Civil Society and its Fragments” in a volume on Activism and Civil Society in South Asia, and on “Local Displacement, Global Activism: DIDR and Transnational Advocacy” in a volume on Development Induced Displacement. During his sabbatical year of 2008, Fisher is continuing his work on post-conflict Nepal. He will return there several times during the year to complete a set of interviews with key activists and political leaders.

Fisher is also working with Thomas Ponniah (Geography/Ph.D. ‘06) on a follow-up volume to their 2004 book on the World Social Forum, Another World is Possible.

Selected Publications

"Revolutionizing the AIDS Response." (with Geeta Rao Gupta, Ann Warner, and Jessica Ogden) Global Public Health, 2011.

"Social capital and AIDS-resilient communities: Strengthening the AIDS response." (With Barbara Thomas-Slayter) Global Public Health, 2011.

“Revolutionizing the Aids Response: Building Aids-Competent Communities." (With Geeta Rao Gupta.) Aids 2031 Social Drivers Working Group Synthesis Paper. 2010.

"Mobilizing Social Capital in a World with AIDS." (With Barbara Thomas Slayter.) Aids2031 Project. 2010.

"Civil Society and Its Fragments," In Activism and Civil Society in South Asia. Edited by David Gellner. Sage 2010.

“Local Displacement, Global Activism: DIDR and Transnational Advocacy,” Development Induced Displacement and Anthropology, SAR Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2009.

Another World is Possible: Popular Alternatives to Globalization at the World Forum, William F. Fisher and Thomas Ponniah (Ph.D. candidate in geography) eds. London and New York: Zed Books. 2003. Editions published in Japanese and French, 2004. Click here to learn more about this publication.

“The Politics of Difference and the Reach of Modernity: Reflections on the State and Civil Society in Central Nepal,” Resistance and the State: Nepalese Experiences, David Gellner, ed. Oxford Press. 2003.

Fluid Boundaries: Forming and Transforming Thakali Identity in Nepal. Columbia University Press 2001.

Toward Sustainable Development? Struggling Over India's Narmada River (ed.) M.E.Sharpe Publishers 1995.

“Grands barrages, flux mondiaux, et petites gens,” Critique Internationale, No. 13. October 2001.

“Diverting Water: Revisiting the Sardar Sarovar Project”, Water Resources Development , Vol. 17, No. 3. 2001.

"Sacred Rivers, Sacred Dams: Visions of Social Justice and Sustainable Development along the Narmada," Hinduism and Ecology . Chrisopher Chapple and Arvind Sharma (eds). Harvard University Press 2000.

"Going Under: Indigenous Peoples and the Struggle against Large Dams," Cultural Survival Quarterly. Fall 1999.

"Doing Good? The Politics and Anti-Politics of NGO Practices." Annual Review of Anthropology, Volume 26, 1997.