Emma Crewe’s doctoral research explored the politics of aid. She saw through the eyes of a social scientist working in East Africa and South Asia with the UK charity Practical Action. She wrote this up in Whose Development? An Ethnography of Aid with Elizabeth Harrison, whose focus was on FAO projects in Southern Africa.
She lectured in development at Sussex University (1993-96), covering topics ranging from the environment to gender and the application of anthropology. She also lectured in SOAS (2008-11) on the MA in Anthropology of Development and supervised postgraduate dissertations.
With Richard Axelby she wrote a book about anthropological perspectives on aid and development (Cambridge University Press, 2013). Their aims are to make anthropology easier for non-anthropologists and development harder for its practitioners. Pretending that aid is easy just makes its protagonists less equipped to respond to the complexity of its world.
Between 2014-2017 she joined a coalition of researchers led by the Danish Institute for International studies who were comparing how different agencies work on gender equality and the empowerment of women. As part of this, Emma embarked on a mini-ethnographic study of an international NGO based in the UK, researching its work in the UK, South Asia and East Africa.
Her current research interests are the governance of aid and the relationships between parliament and parliamentarians, the state and civil society in the UK, the US, South Asia and Eastern Africa.