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SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Miss Catherine Craven

BA (Sussex) MSc (LSE)
  • Research


Catherine Craven
Department of Politics and International Studies

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Miss Catherine Craven
Email address:
Office No:
Academic Support Hours:
Thursdays, 10.00 - 11.00am
Thesis title:
Locating Politics in the Global: A Practice-Based Analysis of Tamil Diaspora Engagement
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors


Since June 2017 Research Associate, SFB 700 “Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood”, Freie Universität Berlin

Since Oct 2016 Editor for the SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research

Feb-June 2017 Visiting Graduate Researcher, Centre for Asian Research, York University, ON

Nov 2015- 2016 Research Assistant to Fiona B. Adamson, SOAS University of London, “Conflict Beyond Borders: Transnational identities, belonging and Security”

June 2016 Certificate of Completion, Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, Syracuse University

Jan-Jun 2016 Organiser of the MPhil Graduate Conference, Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS

Jan-Aug 2016 Market Intelligence Analyst, Middlesex University, London

2014-2015 Student Research Assistant, DFG Collaborative Research Centre 700 “Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood”, B2 Governance by External Actors, Freie Universität Berlin

2014-2015 Student Publications Assistant, DFG Research College (KFG) “The Transformative Power of Europe”, Freie Universität Berlin

Feb-Jun 2014 Research Assistant, Peace and Security Program, Global Public Policy Institute, Berlin

Feb-June 2012 Research and Events Intern, Goethe-Zentrum Hyderabad, India

Scholarships and Awards

2015-2018 SOAS Scholarship for the Bloomsbury DTC - Economic and Social Research Council (full-tuition remission)

2017 Geographical Club Award of the Royal Geographical Society

2017 Graduate Student Scholarship of the International Council for Canadian Studies

2016 Santander Mobility Award, SOAS University of London

PhD Research

The last decade has seen a steady proliferation of institutions set up by states to harness the economic, social and political potential of their emigrant populations. More recently, there has also been a huge surge in interest directed at diasporas from countries with large immigrant populations, such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as non-state actors such as the EU and the World Bank , international non-governmental organisations and the private sector. Strikingly, in these policy circles, such diaspora engagement is overwhelmingly framed as an operational strategy or management tool. However, far from apolitical best practice, diaspora strategies produce hierarchies among diaspora actors that are at best questionable and at worse oppressive and exclusionary, thus making them highly political and dependent upon unequal power relations. My project aims to shed light on these power relations and the political struggles they shape.

While, scholars have had trouble locating the politics of diaspora engagement (in terms of scales and levels of analysis), there has also been a tendency to reify the modern Western nation-state as the primary unit of analysis of diaspora engagement. My project aims to address these shortcomings by drawing on the intellectual traditions of critical realism and Bourdieusian practice theory. I suggest two things: that political struggles play out through the medium of practices; and that practices are hierarchically organized and given meaning inside specific global social fields, operationalized as governance assemblages. Finally, I use the specific case of the Tamil diaspora to trace diaspora engagement practices through the following global governance assemblages, namely security, transitional justice and development.

The project rests on a multi-method framework, employing largely qualitative social network analysis to construct the outline of these three assemblages, and a combination of interpretive methods (namely discourse analysis, ethnographic interviews and participant observation) to study the practices through which political struggles unfold within these assemblages.


2013, Reconsidering Dayton. e-International Relations (Online)
2013, Theoretical Synthesis in International Relations. e-International Relations (Online)
2011, How the Visual Arts can Further the Cause of Human Rights. e-International Relations (Online)


2017 ""Critical Realism, Assemblages and Practices beyond the State: A new
framework for analyzing global diaspora engagement?"", Beyond Positivism Conference, Critical Realism Network, Montreal

2017 ""Assemblages and Practices beyond the State: A new framework for analysing global diaspora engagement?"", Conference on Mapping the Global Dimensions of Policy 6, McMaster University

2016 ""Locating Politics in the Global: A Practice-based Analysis of Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora Engagement"", Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, Syracuse University

2016 ""Locating Power in the Global: A Practice-based Analysis of Tamil Diaspora Engagement"", MPhil Graduate Conference Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS

2015 Festival of the Spoken Word, Calcutta Debating Circle, Calcutta

2012 National Seminar Innovative Practices as Quality Benchmarks in Higher Education, St. Ann’s College for Women, Hyderabad


  • London Migration Research Group
  • Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies


  • Globalization
  • Global Governance
  • Networks
  • Diaspora
  • Transnationalism
  • Social Fields
  • Practice Theory
  • Ethnography
  • Post-Positivism