Overview

Emma Crewe is an anthropologist based at SOAS (University of London) working on politics, governance and identity in organisations, especially parliaments around the world. In April 2015 her book House of Commons: an Anthropology of MPs at Work was published by BloomsburyShe is currently co-ordinating a research coalition to support national scholars and artists in Myanmar and Ethiopia to undertake research on the relationship between politicians and society at SOAS with Enlightened Research Foundation Mynamar, Forum for Social Studies (Addis Ababa), Leeds University, JNU (New Delhi), 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 a trustee of the INGO Health Poverty Action and Find Your Feet since 2015. In October 2019 she embarks on a new project guiding a coalition of anthropologists to study parliaments in six countries.

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. Between 2014-2017 she researched gender equality within the international NGO Oxfam and co-ordinating a coalition of researchers looking into what happens when the parliaments of Bangladesh and Ethiopia engage with the public and aim to reduce poverty.