Dr Ruth Craggs
Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Historical Geography
Tel: +44 (0)20 7848 7980
Department of Geography
King's College London
Office: Bush House North East Wing, Room 6.07
Commonwealth Oral History Project: www.commonwealthoralhistories.org
Ruth joined the department as Lecturer in Human Geography in July 2013. Previously, Ruth had completed Undergraduate and Masters degrees, and her AHRC funded PhD, at the University of Nottingham in the School of Geography. Her doctoral research focused on popular engagements with the ‘modern’ Commonwealth in post-war Britain.
Since then, Ruth has been considering engagements with the Commonwealth in other parts of the world, most notably Southern Africa and South East Asia. Specifically, she has been exploring performances of post-colonial Commonwealth Geopolitics (funded by a British Academy Small Grant and an Association of South East Asian Studies in the UK Visiting Fellowship). Other research has focused on modern architecture – both how it was understood when it was built – and how it is now valued.
Her new research focuses on the impact of decolonisation on post-war British urban planning. She has published in a wide range of geography and history books and journals and given seminars and contributed to symposia at various institutions in France, Portugal, Singapore, Sweden, the UK and the USA.
- Postcolonial geopolitics
- Decolonisation and the ‘modern’ Commonwealth
- The historical and contemporary politics of development
- Race and migration
- Modern architecture and planning
- Volunteering, heritage and enthusiasm
- Colonial and postcolonial Zambia and Zimbabwe
Ruth is a member of the Cities, and the Environment, Politics and Development groups at King's College London.
Ruth’s research focuses on the geographies of decolonisation and the postcolonial, and she explores these issues through a number of different lenses.
First, Ruth’s work has considered the institutions of the ‘modern’ Commonwealth, focusing on everything from enthusiastic engagements and intergovernmental politics. From popular engagements with the Commonwealth in post-war Britain through expeditions, festivals and exhibitions, which forms the basis of a number of journal articles and an online exhibition, to a more recent focus on the geopolitics of Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings in Southern Africa and South East Asia (funded by the British Academy and an Association of South East Asian Studies in the UK Visiting Fellowship) she has mapped out the ideas, performances and experiences of becoming postcolonial. This work has allowed her to contribute to conceptualisations of North-South relations during and after decolonisation, and to explore the interaction of questions of conviviality, hospitality, internationalism and race in this era. She is Co-Investigator on a major new AHRC funded project which is based at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, An Oral History of the Modern Commonwealth, 1965-2010.
Second, Ruth’s research interested in broader cultures and geographies of decolonisation. Her new work (with Hannah Neate, University of Central Lancashire) explores the connections between decolonization and British Urbanism. Specifically, the project examines the involvement of colonial experts of various kinds – administrators, planners, architects, anthropologists - in the construction and management on British New Towns.
She also organised a two-day interdisciplinary symposium entitled ‘Cultures of Decolonisation’ at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in 2012 (with Dr Claire Wintle, University of Brighton) on this theme. An edited volume emerging from this conference is forthcoming in January 2016.
Extending this interest in the post-war built environment, Ruth is also interested in the conservation of modern architecture, and in the role of volunteers and enthusiasts in this process. She has explored these issues in a research project about Architectural Enthusiasm in collaboration with Hilary Geoghegan (UCL) and Hannah Neate (University of Central Lancashire), which is funded by the British Academy. She co-leads an AHRC funded research network on this topic, entitled Modern Futures.
Ruth is a Research Associate, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Studies, University of London, a member of the Conference Advisory Panel for the International Conference of Historical Geography, London 2014 and Membership Secretary of the Historical Geography Research Group, RGS-IBG. She is also on the Editorial Board of The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs and The London Journal.
2012 AHRC large grant, Co-Investigator with Professor Philip Murphy (P-I) and Dr Sue Onslow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies (successful) An Oral History of the Modern Commonwealth, 1965-2010 (£395000).
2012 AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award (successful, June 2012): The Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation and the Histories of Expertise for Development, in partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat (c. £65000).
2011 Association of South East Asian Studies in the United Kingdom/European consortium for Asian Field Study Visiting Fellowship (successful, November 2011): The Singapore Declaration (1971): Commonwealth geopolitics in historical and contemporary South East Asia (£3500).
2011 British Academy Small Grant (successful, February 2011): The dance of postcolonial relations: the Lusaka Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 1979 and Commonwealth geopolitics (£3470).
2011 Royal Geographical Society Small Grant (successful but declined, April
2011): The dance of postcolonial relations: the Lusaka Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 1979 and Commonwealth geopolitics (£2970).
2011 British Academy Small Grant (successful, June 2011, named participant, project convened by Dr Hilary Geoghegan and Dr Hannah Neate): Conserving the Twentieth Century: architectural enthusiasm and The Twentieth Century Society (£7446).
2009 Foreign and Commonwealth Office grant (£20,000 received in collaboration with the representatives from Round Table, the Royal Commonwealth Society and the Commonwealth Secretariat to support Commonwealth Scholarships).
2005-2008 AHRC Doctoral Studentship.
2004-2005 AHRB Research Preparation Masters studentship.
Ruth is interested in supervising postgraduate research at doctoral level and for MA / M.Phil degrees, and pleased to discuss research topics and funding avenues with prospective students.
She is especially interested in the following areas (interpreted broadly):
- Geographies of Empire and Decolonisation
- Histories of Development
- Post-colonial Geopolitics
- Architecture and Heritage
- Race, migration and multiculturalism in Britain or Africa
I supervise three students on topics related to decolonization and heritage, two here in the Department, and one jointly with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Studies.
News from elsewhere: Journalism, social justice, development and the decolonisation of knowledge (2013- )
Stakeholder's attitudes towards World Heritage Designation (2012- )
Matthew Battey (with Professor Philip Murphy). Matthew’s PhD ‘Placing knowledge in a decolonizing world: the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation and histories of expertise for development’ is based at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, and is funded by an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award.
Impact, innovation and outreach
As director of the Tourism, Environment and Development (TED) programme my role is to oversea the academic content, ethos and professional trajectory of our students and alumni.
- 7SSG5002 Practising Social Research: A required Tourism, Environment and Development module, we meet as a group in seminars to follow-up on and discuss content delivered through lectures on research methods and management. Much is student led, and we explore the application of techniques learnt in tourism and development contexts.
- 7SSG5108 Tourism and Development: I convene this compulsory module for the Tourism, Environment and Development masters programme, and an option for other masters courses. In this module, through lectures, seminars and field trips, we explore key development dilemmas and the ways in which tourism has been understood as contributing their alleviation (or otherwise!). Taking a critical perspective, we evaluate the role of mass tourism in development, and then move on to explore the contribution of alternative forms of tourism, such as pro-poor tourism, community-based tourism, and volunteer tourism. The module includes guest lectures from experts in the field, and a walking our of London.
- 7SSG5178 Tourism, Conservation and the Environment: I convene this compulsory module for the Tourism, Environment and Development masters programme, and an option for other masters courses. Co-taught with Mirela Barbu, this module invokes exploring the conservation of built heritage and the environment from theoretical and practical perspectives. Through field visits, guest lectures from conservation professionals, lectures and student led seminars, we explore how and what we conserve, and with what consequences.
4SSG1008 Geography Tutorials: Critical Thinking and Techniques: I teach Geography tutorials which introduce students to the practical and intellectual skills required in a geography degree.
- 5SSG20147 Fieldwork (India) in Human and Development Geography: I contribute to this field class which is one of the highlights of the academic year. We start with a series of lectures on the development history and context of Kerala and then work in small groups to develop mini-research projects selected by students. These projects are then implemented in the field class.
- 5SSG2017 Historical Geographies of Urbanism: Co-taught by myself, David Green and George Adamson, this course develops an understanding of the comparative dimensions of urbanisation from the eighteenth to the late twentieth century to enable students to explore the relationships between urbanisation and the broader currents of economic, social, political and cultural change. My sessions focus on housing, architecture, and the built landscape, in both a British and a (post)colonial context. Case studies include India, the UK, and Nigeria, explored through both lectures, and more interactive activities including film showings and discussion, TV and audio materials, and a walking tour.
- 6SSG3076 Geopolitics, Power and Place: I convene this new module which is also offered as part of the Geopolitics, Territory and Security masters programme. The module explores contemporary and historical geopolitics and encourages students to think critically about the actors, power relations, and practices of international politics. Drawing on my own research about the Commonwealth and decolonisation, we explore the shifting terrain of postcolonial geopolitics, alongside other topics such as migration, the geopolitics of environmental issues, and of natural disasters.
I am committed to making my research publically accessible and engaging wider publics. I curated an exhibition based on my PhD research at Cambridge University Library and this is available online here: ‘Commonwealth cultures in a decolonizing world’
The Commonwealth Oral History Project that I am working on as Co-Investigator (2013-2015, with) will produce a unique digital research resource on the history of the Commonwealth since 1965 which aims to engage the public in the Commonwealth, as well as providing an essential research tool for scholars.
Conference Sessions and Seminars organised
July 2012 - Institute of British Geographers and Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference, Edinburgh. Co-convener of the session: “Decolonisation, professionals, and the geographies of expertise” (with Dr Casper Andersen, University of Oxford)
July 2012 - Institute of British Geographers and Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference, Edinburgh. Co-convener of the session: “Geographies of enthusiasm: exploration and fieldwork” (with Dr Hilary Geoghegan, University of Exeter, and Dr Hannah Neate, University of Central Lancashire)
May 2012 - Cultures of Decolonisation, c.1945-1970, a two day interdisciplinary conference, Senate House, London (organised with Dr Claire Wintle, University of Brighton)
January-March 2011 - London Group of Historical Geographers Seminar series, Institute of Historical Research: “Hospitable Cities” Series convener
August 2008 - Institute of British Geographers and Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference, London. Co-convener of the session “Locating Knowledge: Alternative networks, spaces and histories” sponsored by the Historical Geography Research Group
May 2013 - Centre for British Studies, Paris Diderot: “Commonwealth Conference geopolitics and the performance of decolonisation”
February 2013 - Advancing Postcolonial Geography Symposium, National University of Singapore: “Postcolonial Geography, the Commonwealth and the Spaces of Decolonisation”
February 2013 - Society, Space and Culture Research Seminar, Queens University, Belfast: “The Spaces of Decolonisation”
November 2012 - Decolonisation workshop, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London: “The Lusaka Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and the Dance of Postcolonial Relations”
February 2011 - Postgraduate Postcolonial Conference, keynote speaker, University of York
June 2010 - Democracy in the Commonwealth, School of Oriental and African Studies, London. ‘Democracy research’; Rapporteur for The Round Table journal
May 2009 - London Group of Historical Geographers Seminar series, Institute of Historical Research: “Commonwealth London: Hospitality and belonging in the city”
May 2008 - Royal Commonwealth Society, London: “The Royal Commonwealth Society and the modern Commonwealth”
February 2008 - Cultural and Historical Geography Research Group Seminar Series, School of Geography, University of Nottingham “Commonwealth Visions: Cultures of travel and the Comex expeditions”
November 2005 - Standing Conference on Library Materials on Africa Lunchtime Seminar Series, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London “The Library of the Royal Commonwealth Society”