Dr Mary Upton

Visiting Research Associate


Mary is a visiting Research Associate, with previous employment as an Associate Lecturer at the Open University. She holds a BSc in Sociology with Research Training from the University of Bath, an MPhil in Politics from the University of Bristol, an MRes in International Development from the University of Bath and a PhD in Development Policy and Practice from the Open University. Her MPhil research on South African political history focused on the political role of writers and performers in their resistance against apartheid. Her interest in civil society activity was developed during her MRes research on perceptions of, and participation in, HIV and AIDS related development. That interest in civil society continues to inform her work in developing understanding of the complex ways that HIV and AIDS reflect global inequalities. Her PhD thesis explored biotechnology innovation in its capacity to provide valued health resources for vulnerable and marginalised people. It revealed the interrelationships of power within and between global, national and local health governance arenas, and the impact on the daily lives of people engaged in South African HIV vaccine clinical trial sites in metropolitan Cape Town and Soweto.

Mary is developing her research interests in the role of civil society actors in global health governance. This work draws from her PhD thesis which identified the impact of HIV and AIDS stigma on vulnerable and marginalised peoples’ access to valued health resources in South Africa. Support from the Open University Centre for Innovation, Knowledge and Development (IKD) has provided the opportunity to develop current research into transnational advocacy networks; specifically faith-based organisations and their role in HIV and AIDS governance. This research explores the values underpinning development politics and their influence on conceptions of social justice driving development policy and practice.