UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


Dr Christopher Harker

Associate Professor

Programme Director of the PhD in Global Prosperity

Research Summary

My current research examines spatial practices of debt and finance in Palestine and the UK. I am interested in everyday practices of politics and agency and developing alternatives that allow people to both manage existing debt problems and create new forms of flourishing beyond debt. This means asking far reaching questions about how real quality of life can be financed? How we can pay for the societies we want and how we can create more inclusive forms of value? What options are available for the majority of people whose efforts to create meaningful lives are not supported by existing financial systems and relations? How do we move from failing forms of finance and growth economics that creates inequality and ecosystem destruction towards more inclusive and sustainable forms of prosperity?

My published work advances a spatial conceptualisation of debt. I draw on a decade long ethnographic engagement with the Palestinian city of Ramallah to analyse the role debt plays amidst a broader range of socio-cultural and economic practices to create new modes of living in the face of ongoing colonial occupation. My extensive ethnographic fieldwork offers a rich understanding of the varied debt relations within and beyond Ramallah, and forms of agency I characterise as endurance. I explore these ideas most extensively in my forthcoming monograph, Spacing Debt: Obligations, Endurance and Impasse in Ramallah, Palestine. My research also contributes to postcolonial scholarship concerned with making theory more inclusive.


Books Authored

Harker, C. 2020. Spacing Debt: Obligations, Violence and Endurance in Ramallah, Palestine. Durham: Duke University Press, forthcoming.

Books Edited

Harker, C.,Horschelmann, K. & Skelton, T. (eds). 2017. Conflict, Violence and Peace: Geographies of Children and Young People, Volume 11. Singapore: Springer.

Book Chapters

Harker, C. & Montgomerie, J. Forthcoming. Household Finance. In J. Knox-Hayes & D. Wójcik (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Financial Geography. London: Routledge.

Harker, C. 2019. Violence, Finance and Place: Financial crisis ordinariness in Ramallah, Palestine. In S. Kirwan (ed.) Problems of Debt: Explorations of Life, Love and Finance. Bristol: ARN Press. pp.34-49.

Harker, C.2017. Governing majorities in the Arab World: urban life beyond neoliberalism. In L. Khirfan (ed.) Order and Disorder: Urban Governance and the making of Middle Eastern Cities.Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press. pp.41-69. 

Harker, C.2017.Informal Sector. In D. Richardson, N. Castree, M. Goodchild, A. Kobayashi, W. Liu, & R. Marston (eds.) The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology.Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

Harker, C.2017. Researching spaces of violence through family. In C. Harker, K. Horschelmann, T. Skelton (eds) Handbook of Geographies of Children and Young People. Vol. 11 Conflict, Violence and Peace. Singapore: Springer. pp. 253-268.

Journal Publications

Harker, C. & Kirwan, S. 2019. Editorial: Geographies of Debt and Indebtedness. Geoforum 100: 236-238. Part of special issue ‘Geographies of Debt and Indebtedness’.

Harker, C., Sayyad, D., Shebeitah, R.  2019. The Gender of Debt and Space: Notes from Ramallah Al Bireh, Palestine. Geoforum 98: 277-285.

Harker C. 2017. Debt Space: topologies, ecologies and Ramallah, Palestine. Environment and Planning D: Society & Space 35 (4): 600–619.

Harker, C.2014. The ambiguities of cohabitation. Area 46 (4): 355-6. Part of themed section ‘Intimacy, Geopolitics, Violence’ (Eds. R. Pain & L Staeheli).

Harker, C. 2014. Debt and obligation in contemporary Ramallah. Jadaliyyan.p. Available at http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/19665/debt-and-obligation-in-contemporary-ramallah

Harker, C., Sayyad, D., Shebeitah, R.  2014. Ghosts of Jerusalem: Ramallah’s haunted landscapes. Jerusalem Quarterly 58: 7-12.

Harker, C.2014. The only way is up? Ordinary topologies of Ramallah. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38 (1): 318-335.

Harker, C.2012. Precariousness, precarity and family: notes from Palestine.Environment and Planning A 44 (4): 849-865. Part of themed section ‘Familial Relations: Spaces, Subjects and Politics’.

Harker, C.& Martin, L. 2012. Guest Editorial: Familial Relations: Spaces, Subjects and Politics.Environment and Planning A44(4): 768-775. Part of themed section ‘Familial Relations: Spaces, Subjects and Politics’.

Harker, C.2011. Geopolitics and family in Palestine.Geoforum 42 (3): 306–315. [Reprinted in J. Dittmer & J. Sharp (eds.) 2014. Geopolitics: An Introductory Reader. London: Routledge. pp. 312-318.]

Harker, C.2010. New geographies of Palestine and Palestinians. The Arab World Geographer13 (3-4): 199-216.

Harker, C.2010. On (not) forgetting families: family spaces and spacings in Birzeit, Palestine. Environment and Planning A 42 (11): 2624-2639.

Harker, C.2009. Spacing Palestine through the home. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers34 (3): 320-332.

Harker, C. 2009. Student Im/mobility in Birzeit, Palestine. Mobilities4 (1): 11-35. [Invited contribution to the special issue: ‘The Road Less Traveled? New Directions in Children’s Mobility’].

Harker, C.2007. A Close and Unbreachable Distance: Witnessing Everything and Nothing. ACME – An International E-Journal for Critical Geographers6 (1): 51-72.

Harker, C.2006. Guest Editorial: A “historic” day and a non-historic day in the history of Palestine. Environment and Planning D: Society & Space24 (3): 317-323.

Harker, C.2005. Playing and Affective Time-Spaces.Children’s Geographies3 (1): 47-62.

Journal Special Issues

Harker, C. & Kirwan, S. (eds.) In Process. ‘Geographies of Debt and Indebtedness’. Special issue of Geoforum, Expected end 2018.

Harker, C.(ed.) 2013. Book Review Symposium – Geraldine Pratt’s ‘Families Apart: Migrant Mothers and the Conflicts of Labor and Love’ AntipodeFoundation.org (http://antipodefoundation.org/2013/05/07/families-apart/).

Harker, C.& Martin, L. (eds.) 2012. ‘Familial Relations: Spaces, Subjects and Politics’. Theme section of Environment and Planning A44 (4): 768-904.