Dr Katie McQuaid


Katie is an anthropologist with expertise on gender and sexuality, intergenerationality, climate change, sexual and reproductive health, and human rights in urban Africa. Her work creatively combines ethnographic and applied arts-based methodologies as tools for research, knowledge exchange and transformation in Uganda, India and Malawi. Her wider ethnographic work focuses upon violence, humanitarianism and human rights among refugees from the Democratic Repulic of Congo in Uganda, exploring the practices of forcibly displaced Congolese human rights defenders and the complex persecution and marginalisation of refugees on the basis of their sexual orienation and gender identity and expression.

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. She has been employed as a Research Fellow in the School of Geography since September 2014.

She recently jointly led an ESRC/Leeds Social Sciences Institute Accelerator Award on girls' education in Jinja, Uganda (2017-18). This project combined social science and applied arts methodologies to engage with and mobilise schoolgirls' voices to advocate for, and critically inform debates about, their educational and livelihood outcomes through the development of a Social Platform.

Since February 2017 she has also worked with the School of English on a series of projects. She currently works on two projects:

  • Promoting sexual and reproductive health education among adolescents through creative and youth-led practice in India, Malawi and Uganda (AHRC/MRC).
  • Engendering equality: working holistically in a Ugandan slum to challenge gendered inequalities, sexual ignorance and abusive sexual behaviours (British Academy).

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'. This project aimed to substantially upscale and embed the impact activities and embodied legacies of INTERSECTION's work in Uganda and implement this approach in Malawi.

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 ten months' fieldwork in Uganda in 2015 (January-November) and six weeks in 2016 (March-April) drawing on a range of qualitative, narrative and arts-based methods including community theatre and PhotoVoice to explore intergenerational ‘stories’ and dialogues.

Selected Publications

  • 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.

Research interests

Katie's current research creatively combines social science and applied arts-based methods to explore intergenerationality, gender and sexuality, sexual and reproductive health, and urban climate change in Uganda, 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 I will teach on Research Methods: Ideas and Practice in Human Geography, and Environment, Conflict and Policy.

Research groups and institutes

  • Social Justice, Cities, Citizenship