Overview

Emma Crewe is an anthropologist working on politics, governance and identity in civil society organisations and parliament in the UK, South Asia and East Africa based at SOAS, University of London. Her research into international development NGOs began in 1987 and into parliament goes back to the House of Lords in 1998-2002 and the House of Commons 2011-2013.

She is currently co-ordinating a research coalition engaged in research on parliament's role in poverty reduction in Bangladesh and Ethiopia with the Hansard Society. She has joined the faculty teaching on an innovative course (Doctorate in Management by Research) as a Visiting Professor at the University of Hertfordshire and has been Chair of the INGO Health Poverty Action since 2015. She is also researching gender equality within an international NGO with the Danish Institute for International Studies.

In April 2015 her book House of Commons: an Anthropology of MPs at Work was published by Bloomsbury and a pamphlet Commons and Lords: a Short Anthropology of Parliament came out as a Haus Curiosity, one of a series commissioned by Peter Hennessy. The House of Commons was shortlisted for the Thinking Aloud / British Sociological Association ethnography prize and she talked about it on Radio 4's Thinking Aloud in November 2016.

Emma began working with Practical Action as a social scientist in 1987 and spent five years advising NGOs and governments in East Africa and South Asia on household energy projects. This experience was half the basis of a book, Whose Development? An Ethnography of Aid, co-authored with Elizabeth Harrison who brought the other half of the material from FAO.

She then taught anthropology and development studies at Sussex University including courses on social institutions; culture and madness; environment and ecology; gender and development and applying anthropology. From 1995-98 she advised grant-makers on their policy and developed the policies and procedures of the first Big Lottery Fund international programme.

She followed this with a four year research project in the UK House of Lords. She observed the reform that excluded most of the hereditary peers, interviewed over 100 peers and officials and wrote about social relationships, culture, and reform in the House of Lords in Lords of Parliament: Culture, Rituals and Manners. With Penny Boreham she made a two part series on the culture of the Lords for the BBC.

In a return to the world of development, Emma was a researcher and then Director of the Centre for Research in Innovation and Science Policy in Hyderabad from 2004-5. Between 2005-2011 she then ran ChildHope, a small international organisation that supports national NGOs in African, Asian and South America to promote social justice for girls, boys and youth.

She taught about the anthropology of development at SOAS and wrote a text book on the subject with Richard Axelby. She was a Leverhulme Research Fellow studying the Westminster Parliament (2011-13), exploring identity, culture and representation in the House of Commons. In 2014 she began research into gender equality within the international NGO Oxfam and into what happens when the parliaments of Bangladesh and Ethiopia engage with the public and aim to reduce poverty.