Dr Kamna Patel
Development Planning Unit
Faculty of the Built Environment
- Joined UCL
- 16th Jul 2012
My current research and field of practice concerns the relationships between race (understood as a racialised hierarchy of value) and development. This focus builds on three strands of research: (i) housing, land tenure and citizenship in the urban Global South, (ii) reflexive practice and postcolonial scholarship on the teaching and practice of ‘development’, and (iii) the application of a race lens to understanding and taking action for equity and justice.
The first of my research strands is essentially concerned with the role of property in awarding, seizing, denying or contesting citizenship rights, which are sometimes expressed with recourse to national legislation or a moral reference to the right to the city. Specifically, my research has critically examined state-led approaches to low income housing schemes and tenure security in cities in the Global South, the effects of these approaches on individual and community wellbeing and realisations of citizenship, and the role of religious and/or ethnic identities therein.
The second of my research themes, reflexive practice and postcolonial scholarship on the teaching and practice of ‘development’, is an essential part of my own scholar identity as a reflexive practitioner and teacher. Further to critical self-reflection on my career as a consultant and project manager within the development industry, I have developed a strong research interest in the processes and politics of ‘othering’ prevalent in mainstream development policy and practice, and the constructions of knowledge upon which development interventions are planned. I apply this critical insight to the teaching of development studies and research of development issues.
The third strand brings together ideas of race and its material impact with practices of equality, diversity and inclusion in different institutional spaces. This is an applied strand of research and thinking.
I led two core modules on the MSc Development Administration and Planning:
- Contemporary Approaches to Development Management (15 credits), a module that critically analyses common tools and approaches employed in the design, management, implementation and evaluation of development projects and programmes.
- Development in Practice (30 credits), this module examines how the concept of 'development' is realised and practiced through a series of research-led projects that explore how a development intervention is planned and implemented by NGOs in Kampala, Uganda. The module includes two weeks of field study in Kampala.
- Urban land tenure and housing tenure
- Slum upgrading (in situ and relocation)
- Ethnographic methodologies
- Critical study of the development industry focused on questions of race and development.
I am currently on secondment with the INGO Christian Aid as their Race and Diversity Lead and will return to UCL in mid-2023. During this time I am open to accepting enquires from prospective doctoral students.
Between July 2018 - 2021, I served at the inaugural Vice-Dean Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for The Bartlett faculty. In this role I developed a critical anti-racist feminist approach to augmenting change for greater equality in the university, leading us to an Athena SWAN silver award that foregrounded an intersectional approach to questions of gender equality.
I have an academic and professional background in development studies, social policy and social development. Prior to my doctoral studies, I worked as a consultant and project manager for a UK development consultancy firm, working predominantly on land reform and urban livelihood issues in projects across Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.
I served as Co-Programme Director of the MSc Development Administration and Planning (2013-2019).
My training includes:
Professional Certificate of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, UCL Institute of Education (2014)
PhD, 'Tenure and Vulnerability: The effects of changes to tenure security on the urban poor', ESRC funded, International Development Department, University of Birmingham (2012)
MA International Development: Social Policy and Social Development (Research Training), International Development and Policy Management, University of Manchester (2008)