Liam Riley

Adjunct Faculty    

Liam Riley

Liam Riley

Adjunct Faculty

(226) 772-3080

[email protected]

BSIA Office: BSIA 238


Dr Liam Riley works on several inter-related projects investigating food security and food systems in Africa’s rapidly growing cities. He holds a PhD in Geography from Western University (2013) and has held a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2014-2016) and Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship (2016-2019) at the BSIA at Wilfrid Laurier University where he is currently an Adjunct Faculty member. His work is rooted in fieldwork in Malawi, Cameroon, South Africa, and Botswana that uses a host of qualitative and quantitative research methods to investigate (1) gendered household food strategies in urban Africa and (2) the political economic dimensions of urban food security as a development challenge.

He is currently engaged with the following research projects, all of which have a dual purpose of expanding the academic understanding of urban food insecurity and rapidly changing urban food systems while producing open-source information that can be used by leaders, development practitioners, students and researchers in the Global South:

  1. Principal Investigator of “Mapping African Urban Foodscapes: Youth Experiences in Malawi’s Informal Settlements” (SSHRC-Insight Grant funded). This project uses participatory GIS to gain insight into how young adults in urban informal settlements in Malawi experience their food environments.
  2. Co-Investigator of “Consuming Urban Poverty 2: Secondary Urbanization, Food Security, and Local Governance in Africa” (SSHRC-Insight Grant funded). This project uses mixed research methods and collaboration with local stakeholders in Cameroon, Namibia and Malawi to understand urban food security and food systems in secondary cities in Africa (where much of the urban population growth is taking place).
  3. Collaborator and Gender Specialist for “The Hungry Cities Partnership,” which studies informality, inclusive growth and food security in cities of the Global South. He has produced several HCP discussion papers using empirical data from partner cities and serves as Co-Editor of the series of reports on the research findings.


  • SSHRC Impact Award (Talent Competition): Finalist (2017)
  • Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship (2016-2018)
  • SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2014-2016)
  • African Geographical Review Paper of the Year Award, Association of American Geographers (2015)
  • Africa Institute Student Mobility Fund Award, Western University (2012)
  • Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS – Doctoral, SSHRC (2008-2011)
  • International Development Research Centre Doctoral Research Award (2009-2010)
  • CGS – Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement, SSHRC (2009)
  • CGS – Master’s, SSHRC (2007-2008)
  • The E.G. Pleva Prize for Excellence as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, Western University (2007)

Select Publications

  • Riley, L. 2019. “Malawian Urbanism and Urban Poverty: Geographies of Food Access in Blantyre.” Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability.
  • Crush, J. and L. Riley 2019. “Rural Bias and the Absence of Urban Food Security Policy in Africa.” Urban Food Systems Governance and Poverty in African Cities. Edited by J. Battersby and V. Watson. Earthscan/Routledge.
  • Riley, L. and E. Chilanga 2018. “‘Things Are Not Working Now’: Poverty, Food Insecurity and Perceptions of Corruption in Urban Malawi.” Journal of Contemporary African Studies 36 (4): 484-498.
  • Riley, L. and M. Caesar 2018. “Urban Household Food Security in China and Mozambique: A Gender-Based Comparative Approach.” Development in Practice 28 (8): 1012-1021.
  • Riley, L., E. Chilanga, L. Zuze and A, Joynt 2018. Food Security in Africa’s Secondary Cities No 1: Mzuzu, Malawi. Urban Food Security Series No. 27. Cape Town: AFSUN.
  • Riley, L. and B. Dodson. 2017 “Intersectional Identities: Food, Space and Gender in Urban Malawi.” Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity 30 (4): 53-61.
  • Riley, L. and B. Dodson. 2016. “‘Gender Hates Men’: Untangling Gender and Development Discourses in Food Security Fieldwork in Urban Malawi”. Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography 23 (7): 1047-1060.
  • Riley, L. and C. Hara. 2016. “Africa’s Vulnerable Children and the Millennium Development Goals: Experiences and Interventions in Malawi”. Geographies of Global Issues: Change and Threat. Edited by N. Ansell, N. Klocker and T. Skelton. Springer.
  • Riley, L. and A. Hovorka. 2015. “Gendering Urban Food Systems Across Multiple Scales”. Cities and Agriculture: Developing Resilient Urban Food Systems. Edited by H. De Zeeuw and P. Drechsel. London: Routledge/Earthscan.
  • Riley, L. 2014. “Operation Dongosolo and the Geographies of Urban Poverty in Malawi”. Journal of Southern African Studies. 40 (3): 443-458.
  • Riley, L. and B. Dodson. 2014. “Gendered Mobilities and Food Access in Blantyre, Malawi”. Urban Forum. 25 (2): 227-279.
  • Riley, L. and A. Legwegoh. 2014. “Comparative Urban Food Geographies in Blantyre and Gaborone”. African Geographical Review. 33 (1): 52-66.
  • Riley, L. 2013. “Orphan Geographies in Malawi”. Children’s Geographies. 11 (4): 409-421.


  • PhD in Geography from Western University (2013)
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