Dr Catherine Craven (she/her)

Department of Sociological Studies

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

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Full contact details

Dr Catherine Craven
Department of Sociological Studies
The Wave
2 Whitham Road
S10 2AH

Catherine Craven is an International Political Sociologist interested in the relations between traditionally marginalised and dominant actors, spaces, and structures in global politics. Her research examines diaspora and migrant mobilisations and their entanglements with state and non-state governance, past and present. 

She joined the Department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in October 2023, to embark on a new research project titled Diasporic Connections and the Making of “Global Britain”. 

Catherine was awarded a PhD in Politics and International Studies from SOAS University of London in 2022, where her thesis examined the politics of diaspora engagement in global governance, through a multi-sited ethnography of Tamil diaspora mobilisation in the UK, Canada, and Switzerland. She also holds an MSc in Global Politics from the London School of Economics, and a BA in Anthropology from Sussex University. 

Previously, Catherine worked as a Research Fellow on the MIGZEN project at the University of Birmingham, and as a Research Assistant at SOAS University of London on the MAGYC-EU Horizon 2020 project, investigating the shifting politics of migration governance in post-Brexit Britain and Europe, respectively. She has taught courses on Global History and International Migration and Citizenship at SOAS and Birmingham, and has held Research Fellowships at the Free University of Berlin, George Washington University, and York University, Canada.

Her research has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Royal Geographical Society, and the International Council for Canadian Studies, while her writing has appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Global Security Studies, Global Networks, and Migration Studies, as well as The Conversation, the Sociological Review Magazine and 9DashLine.

Research interests

Catherine is interested in investigating and understanding power relationships between traditionally dominant and marginalised actors, spaces, and structures in Global Politics. Her research is informed by critical relational approaches, and empirically focussed on the study of diaspora mobilisation and engagement, as well as migration governance by state and non-state actors. She combines diverse qualitative methods in her research, allowing her to access and make sense of entanglements across scales, spaces, and temporalities.

Catherine’s Leverhulme project Diasporic connections and the making of “Global Britain” will examine the politics of British state and nation building in the era of “Global Britain”, showing how it is shaped by “Imperial Britain” and its legacies. It will do so by centring relations between the British state and three specific diasporic formations that are presently negotiating their position in the Global Britain project: Tamils, Hongkongers, and Chagossians; three communities that have emerged through Britain’s imperial history and broader postcolonial politics. The study will combine analysis of contemporary global political connections and entanglements between diaspora mobilisations and the British state, with re-readings of historical accounts to reveal previously hidden connections. In doing so, the project intends to make “Global Britain” meaningful as a way of reading how the UK deals with the political consequences of its past.

Previously, Catherine’s PhD research explored the politics of diaspora engagement, a mechanism that is becoming more and more prolific in the governance repertoire of states and non-state actors. Building on, but departing from research that conceptualises diaspora engagement either as an extension of state power or the linear roll-out of global capitalism, her thesis employed a relational approach to illuminate how diaspora engagement plays out in practice. Through developing an “ethnography of entanglements”, which centred Tamil diaspora mobilisation in multiple global governance spaces in the UK, Canada and Switzerland, it demonstrated that diaspora engagement is always embedded in fields of practice, in turn shaping opportunities for local resistance and compliance. It was nominated for the Best Thesis award of the British International Studies Association, and articles based on it have been published in Global Networks (2021) and the Journal of Global Security Studies (2022).

She has been involved in several collaborative research projects, which explore the politics and impacts of various political crises on migration and diaspora governance.

As a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the MIGZEN project, Catherine conducted research to understand the impact of Brexit on migration and migrants, both conceptually and empirically. This involved designing and implementing a large scale survey and People’s Panel with EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU, as well as conducting semi-structured interviews with recently arrived migrants from the Ukraine and Hongkong. In May 2023, the MIGZEN project launched a podcast in collaboration with Who Do We Think We Are, which explores migration politics in Global Britain. 

As a Research Assistant on the EU Horizon 2020 MAGYC project, Catherine contributed to data collection and analysis on the role and power of Kurdish diaspora organisations and communities in the EU asylum and integration landscape, after 2015. 


Journal articles

Research group

Migration Research Group


Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, Diasporic Connections and the Making of “Global Britain”, 2023-2026, Leverhulme Trust, GBP 96,000.00.

ESRC Studentship, 2015-2018, Economic and Social Research Council, GBP 15,000.00

Teaching interests

I am currently on a research-only contract, but may be available to co-supervise students working on topics related to diaspora mobilisation and diaspora-state relations.