Ruth Bookbinder

Ruth Bookbinder


I completed a BA in History at the University of Bristol in 2013 and an MSc in African Studies at the University of Oxford in 2014. Before starting the PhD, I worked as an Africa analyst at a UK-based risk advisory firm for three years. My time in the private sector furthered my interest in business-state relationships, the factors that shape these relationships and their outcomes.

I have continued to work as a contractor for political risk firms during the PhD, focusing on political, economic and regulatory risks for companies operating in emerging economies. I am also an editor for the Undergraduate Journal of Politics and International Relations.

Research interests

My PhD project examines the ways that rent-seeking has shaped relations between capital, the state, and ruling party in post-apartheid South Africa. In particular, the project addresses corruption narratives in tender procurement and how party factionalism influences rent-seeking practices and their outcomes, using coal purchasing agreements at Eskom, the national electricity company, as a case study. The project is situated within debates regarding the nature of the transition from apartheid and the role that political patronage networks play in allocating state resources. As well as wider debates over business-state relations in emerging economies and the extent to which they can serve developmental purposes.


  • BA History
  • MSc African Studies