Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr Akwugo Emejulu

(Former employee or visitor)

Willingness to take PhD students: Yes


  • PhD (University of Strathclyde)
  • MPhil (distinction) (University of Glasgow), Urban Policy and Practice
  • PgCert (distinction) (University of Edinburgh), Digital Education
  • BA (Hons) (American University), Political Science


Before entering academia, I worked in a variety of grassroots roles--as a community organiser, a trade union organiser and a participatory action researcher--in both the United States and the United Kingdom. 

As a political sociologist, I have research interests in two areas: investigating racial and gender social and economic inequalities in a comparative perspective and exploring the grassroots organising of women of colour for social welfare and social citizenship. 

I am a co-director of the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland, the co-director of the Gender Justice Lab at the Global Justice Academy, an editorial board member of Scottish Affairs, an Advisory Board member of Social Politics and a board member of the Association for Community Organization and Social Administration (ACOSA).


Current Research Interests

  • Sociology of women of colour's grassroots organising and activism
  • Sociology of racial, gender and ethnic inequalities
  • Constructions of race, gender and ethnicity in social welfare and anti-poverty social policy


Research Supervision

I am interested in supervising PhD students on the topics listed above and those areas related to grassroots activism, community development and organising, and race, class, gender and ethnicity more generally. I am also particularly interested in working with students who wish to use intersectional, critcal race, feminist or post-structuralist methodologies in their research.

I am currently supervising the following PhD students in the Schools of Education and Social and Political Science:

Shirley-Pat Chamberlain (Politics), 'A Comparative case study of the role of civil society organizations in indigenous social citizenship reconstruction in Canadian civil society' 

Christiana Fizet (Education), ‘Developing race consciousness and social justice pedagogies in initial teacher education in Canada’ 

Jo Forster (Education), 'Exit, Loyalty and Voice revisited: Understanding adult education, austerity and poverty in northeast England' 

Christine Makuve (Education), 'Immigration, race and identity: The responses to education of Zimbabwean heritage children in the UK'

Hoda Mobasseri (Education), 'Muslim feminism and Muslim women's negotiations of public and private spaces'

Andie Reynolds (external student, Northumbria University), ‘Negotiating self in an arena of ‘othering’: Community development, localism and the 2010 Coalition government’ 

Sara Stewart-Lindores (Sociology), 'Intersectionality: Gender, class and ethno-Christian identities and the intergenerational transmission of sectarianism in Scotland'


Collaborative Activity

Minority Women's Activism in Tough Times

£9,397 British Academy

£6,000 Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland, University of Edinburgh

In this cross-national comparative research project, my co-principal investigator, Leah Bassel (University of Leicester), and I explore the effects of the economic crisis and austerity measures on minority women’s activism in anti-poverty and migrants' rights third sector organisations in the UK and France. In particular, we investigate how the crisis influences the ability of minority and migrant women to use their intersectional identities and experiences of multiple discrimination as a resource for political activism and mobilisation. Our project website is: www.minoritywomenandausterity.com

Download our briefing paper, ‘Between Scylla and Charybdis: Enterprise and Austerity as a Double Hazard for Non-Governmental Organisations in France and the UK’, for the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland here. Read our article for Discover Society outlining some of our most recent findings here. Our research was featured in the British Academy's Research Programme Annual Report for 2014/15. Read our impact case study here.

Leah Bassel and I hosted a Knowledge Exchange event entitled: ‘Whose Crisis Counts? Minority Women, Austerity and Solidarity in France and the UK’ on 11th June 2013 at the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland, University of Edinburgh, which brought together 35 participants from the third sector, local and national government and academia. On 5th February 2014, Leah and I co-organised another Knowledge Exchange event with Indira Kartallozi and Maja Korac (University of East London) entitled: '21st Century London Outcasts: Austerity and its Impact on Refugee Families Living in London'. On 26th June 2014, Leah and I were invited by Oxfam's Routes to Solidarity project to run a third Knowledge Exchange workshop as part of their one-day seminar in Leeds entitled, 'Campaigning for Black Women's Rights: Migrant and Minority Women's Activism'. 


The Politics of Survival: Minority Women, Activism and Austerity in France and Britain

Forthcoming 2017, Policy Press (co-authored with Leah Bassel)

The 2008 economic crisis and subsequent austerity measures represent a contradictory moment for minority women in France and Britain. On the one hand, the ‘crisis’ is not necessarily a new experience for these women. In pre-crisis France and Britain, minority women were already in precarious social and economic circumstances. On the other hand, however, crisis and austerity do represent an important change in the circumstances of minority women. Due to the asymmetrical impacts of austerity, minority women are disproportionately disadvantaged by cuts to public spending thus sharpening and deepening their existing inequalities.

Despite minority women’s routinised experiences of inequality, they are not passive objects at the mercy of economic restructurings and particular policy priorities. Minority women, often operating in hostile contexts among ostensible allies, are organising and mobilising in innovative ways to advance their intersectional social justice claims. Our new book examines minority women’s experiences of and activism within the austerity regimes of France and Britain. Through in depth case studies of the particular dynamics of austerity and activism in Scotland, England and France, we explore how the rebalancing of relations between the state, the market and civil society generate both opportunities and dilemmas for minority women activists, advancing a ‘politics of survival’ in these uncertain times.


Community Development as Micropolitics: Comparing Theories, Policies and Politics in America and Britain 

2015, Policy Press

Why is community development regularly invoked as a way of tackling social problems? Why do institutional actors routinely call upon community development to rebuild bonds and trust between different groups of people? What is at stake philosophically, politically and in policy terms when community development is championed as a strategy for social renewal? Through a comparative analysis of American and British community development since 1968, my new book aims to examine how key political and policy debates about social welfare, social justice and equality have been inscribed onto and embodied within the theory and practice of community development in these two countries.

You can listen to an interview with me about my book on the 'New Books in Political Science Podcast' here.


MSc in Social Justice and Community Action 

£200,206 Distance Education Initiative, University of Edinburgh

The MSc in Social Justice and Community Action is a joint initiative of the Moray House School of Education and the Global Justice Academy. I am the founding programme director.

This part-time and fully online masters programme is designed to equip students with the knowledge and practical skills to help them make positive social change. This programme offers students the opportunity to critically engage with foundational ideas and debates about equality, fairness, power, democracy and citizenship and consider a range of actions in communities, in policy and legislation processes and in organisations for the real world application of these ideas.

The MSc in Social Justice and Community Action includes four compulsory taught courses and a dissertation project:

  • Theories and politics of social justice (20 credits)
  • Community action and social justice (20 credits)
  • Policy analysis for social justice (20 credits)
  • Activist social research (20 credits)

Optional courses include:

  • Learning for democracy (20 credits)
  • Organisational management for social justice (20 credits)


Black Feminism, Womanism and the Politics of Women of Colour in Europe

£3,000 Global Justice Academy

How might we theorise and practice Black feminism and womanism in Europe today? This is a provocative question as women of colour and their politics are too often erased from or misrecognised in the European imagination. Women of colour in Europe have always maintained critical spaces of analysis and activism based on their race, class, gender, sexuality and other categories of difference. This one-day symposium seeks to bring together activists, practitioners and scholars from across Europe to build community, exchange experiences and ideas and collectively imagine a Black feminist and womanist Europe.


Who Saved the City? Exploring Urban Activisms in Times of Austerity in America and Europe

£4,000 Global Justice Academy 

Caleb Johnstone (Human Geography) Tahl Kaminer (Architecture) and I, via Global Justice Academy's Urban Justice Lab, are organising a seminar series about the origins, lived experiences and resistances to the 2008 economic crisis and subsequent austerity measures. You can find videos of our first seminar, 'Urban Crisis: Understanding the Effects of Economic Emergency' here.


Children's Rights, Social Justice and Social Identities in Scotland

£20,000 Scottish Universities Insight Institute

This seminar series brought together children and young people, children’s rights policymakers, practitioners and academics to develop new approaches to tackle children’s intersecting inequalities in Scotland and beyond. All our podcasts and videos, as well as presentation slides from each seminar, are available here.

Download our seminar series briefing paper, 'Children's Rights, Social Justice and Social Identities in Scotland: Intersections in Research, Policy and Practice', here.


Ethnicity, Recession and Austerity in Glasgow                                  

 £7,249 Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights  

Filip Sosenko (Heriot-Watt University), Gina Netto (Heriot-Watt University), Leah Bassel (University of Leicester) and I were commissed by the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) to lead a participatory research project exploring the experiences of poverty and changing incomes among minority ethnic groups in the context of the economic crisis and austerity in Glasgow.    

The full report, In It Together? Perceptions on Ethnicity, Recession and Austerity in Three Glasgow Communities, is available here.



Course Organiser for:

Theories and Politics of Social Justice 

Policy Analysis for Social Justice

Politics, Policy and Professional Identity 

ID: 263209