Skip to main content

12 April 2021

Dr Ruth Craggs awarded Leverhulme Trust Research Grant for new research into diplomatic training

The study will examine diplomatic training as a function of postcolonial state-building in Africa, with a particular focus on Anglophone and Francophone Africa.

Ruth Craggs

In the 40 years between 1957 and 1997 diplomatic training became increasingly internationalised and professionalised, in part because a large group of African states had gained independence and were newly in need of diplomats.

In the period leading up to independence, and in the first years after, many new states lacked the perceived expertise to provide their own training, resulting in external training programmes (often international) run by bodies such as British and European universities, the UNDP, the Commonwealth and later, private entrepreneurial providers.

This project ­­– ­focused on an often-overlooked dimension of state-building – will draw on oral histories and archival research to diversify and historicise diplomacy studies. It will provide new insights into the transnational politics of decolonisation, internationalism and the emerging postcolonial state in Africa.

Expanding on the significance of the study Dr Ruth Craggs, Principal Investigator and Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at King’s, said:

Diplomatic training for postcolonial states is a topic at the crossroads of a number of different fields of study - including political geography, diplomacy studies, education studies and postcolonial and African history – yet none of these fields has considered it as a topic of serious consideration in its own right. This project will do just that, showing how postcolonial state-building was a transnational project, and how diplomatic training was a site of solidarity, but also one in which dominant diplomatic norms could be inculcated and contested.

Dr Ruth Craggs

Working together with Dr Craggs is Dr Fiona McConnell (Oxford University), as Co-Investigator, and Dr Jonathan Harris (Stranmillis University College), as Post-Doctoral Research Assistant. Speaking of the collaborative, multi-disciplinary team that contributed to the grant application, Dr Craggs said:

We developed the application with lots of input from KCL colleagues in geography and beyond, including helpful feedback from the Contested Development Research Group at an early stage, Phil Hubbard, the research grants team, and Pablo de Orellana, from War Studies. We are delighted with the award and are looking forward to getting started with the research in September, and to welcoming Jonathan to the department

Dr Ruth Craggs

The project, which involves extensive archival research in Europe, Cameroon and the USA as well as the collection of new oral histories, will be undertaken over a period of 20 months.

In this story

Ruth Craggs

Reader in Political and Historical Geography