Dr Katie McQuaid


Katie joined the School of Geography in 2014. She is an anthropologist with expertise on climate change, gender and sexuality, intergenerationality, and human rights in informal urban settings. Her work creatively combines ethnographic and applied arts-based methodologies as tools for research, knowledge exchange and transformation in Uganda, Myanmar, India and Malawi.

She was awarded a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship in May 2019 for her project 'Gender, Generation and Climate Change (GENERATE): Creative Approaches to Building Inclusive and Climate Resilient Cities in Uganda and Myanmar'. She will lead an arts-based and longitudinal investigation of the 'gender-age-urban' interface of climate change, delivering new evidence on how gender, sexuality and age shape (and inhibit) urban populations' resilience to climate change in two countries at high risk: Uganda and Myanmar. Her team will combine arts and social science methodologies to directly apply this evidence to identify practicable pathways to more equitable outcomes from urban climate action, and evaluate the ongoing role research-led arts can play in strengthening policymakers' ability to address gender and age inequalities in the climate change field. Working in partnership across multiple scales, her team will co-develop mechanisms that incorporate marginalised groups' priorities, interests and participation within urban and climate policymaking.

Katie has also collaborated with the School of English on a series of projects. Most recently she worked on the project 'Promoting sexual and reproductive health education among adolescents through creative and youth-led practice in India, Malawi and Uganda' funded by the AHRC/MRC (2017-2019). In 2017 she worked on an AHRC-funded project entitled 'Performing Living Knowledge: Developing a replicable model for arts-based empowerment of marginalised urban communities in Uganda and Malawi'. She recently jointly led an ESRC/Leeds Social Sciences Institute Impact Accelerator Award on girls' education in Jinja, Uganda (2017-18). This project combined social science and applied arts methodologies to engage with and mobilise school girls' voices to advocate for, and critically inform debates about, their educational and livelihood outcomes through the development of a Social Platform.

From 2014-16 she worked on the Uganda strand of an interdisciplinary AHRC-funded project entitled ‘INTERSECTION: Intergenerational Justice, Consumption and Sustainability in Cross-National Perspective’ in collaboration with the University of Sheffield. INTERSECTION also conducted comparative research in China and the UK, as part of the AHRC’s Care for the Future Programme. She conducted over a year’s ethnographic fieldwork (2015-16) drawing on a range of qualitative, social science and arts-based methods to explore intergenerational relations, climate change and sustainability.

Katie studied Social Anthropology (MA Hons) at the University of Edinburgh, before completing an MA in the Anthropology of Conflict, Violence and Conciliation (2008) and MSc in Cross-Cultural and Comparative Research Methods (2010) at the University of Sussex. Upon achieving an ESRC award Katie conducted two years’ ethnographic fieldwork in Uganda (2011-2012) for her PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex. Her thesis, entitled ‘Another War: Stories of Violence, Humanitarianism and Human Rights amongst Congolese Refugees in Uganda’ was passed in November 2014.

Selected Publications

  • Wignall, R., K. McQuaid, J. Esson and K. Gough (2019) 'We built this city': Mobilities, urban livelihoods and social infrastructure in the lives of elderly Ghanaians. Geoforum.
  • McQuaid, K., R.M. Vanderbeck, G. Valentine, K. Diprose and C. Liu (2018) 'An elephant cannot fail to carry its own ivory': Transgenerational ambivalence, infrastructure, and sibling support practices in urban Uganda. Emotion, Space and Society.
  • McQuaid, K., R.M. Vanderbeck, G. Valentine, C. Liu, L. Chen, M. Zhang, K. Diprose (2018) Urban climate change, livelihood vulnerability and narratives of generational responsibility in Jinja, Uganda. Africa 88(1): 1-27.
  • McQuaid, K. (2018) Defenders beyond borders: An ethnographic exploration of Congolese human rights defenders in Ugandas humanitarian refugee regime. Human Rights Defender Hub Working Paper Series 3. York: Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York.
  • McQuaid, K. (2017) There is violence across, in all arenas: Listening to stories of violence amongst sexual minority refugees in Uganda. International Journal for Human Rights.
  • McQuaid, K. and J. Plastow (2017) Ethnography, applied theatre and Stiwanism: Creative methods in search of praxis amongst men and women in Jinja, Uganda. Journal of International Development 29(7): 961-980.
  • McQuaid, K., R.M. Vanderbeck, J. Plastow, G. Valentine, C. Liu, L. Chen, M. Zhang and K. Diprose (2017) Intergenerational Community-Based Research and Creative Practice: Promoting Environmental Sustainability in Jinja, Uganda. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships 15(4).
  • McQuaid, K. and J. Plastow (2017) From Research to Activism: Making Theatre and Anthropology in Walukuba, Uganda. Critical Stages: The International Association of Theatre Critics Journal 15.
  • McQuaid, K. (2016) We raise up the voice of the voiceless: Voice, rights and resistance amongst Congolese Human Rights Defenders in Uganda. Refuge 32(1): 50-59.
  • McQuaid, K. (2014) Violent Continuities: Telling stories of one sexual minority life in the African Great Lakes region. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 21(5): 570-585.


  • UKRI Future Leaders Fellow

Research interests

Katie's current research creatively combines social science and applied arts-based methods to explore urban climate change, intergenerationality, and gender and sexuality in Uganda, Myanmar, India and Malawi.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Student education

In the 2018/19 academic year Katie taught on Research Methods: Ideas and Practice in Human Geography, and Environment, Conflict and Policy.

Research groups and institutes

  • Social Justice, Cities, Citizenship