Kathryn Kraft has lived and worked in various Arab countries since 2001. She has a MA in Middle East studies from the American University of Beirut, and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Bristol, England. She has worked in a variety of fields including research, peace and reconciliation, emergency relief and social development. She now lectures in International Development at the University of East London.
Kathryn was born in the U.S. and raised in Brazil, and first moved to the Middle East shortly after completing her university studies, in 2001. After a year and a half of full-time Arabic studies in Syria, she pursued postgraduate studies at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. Her research focus was on Syrian women’s sense of identity and relationships. Based on that research, she has recently published a full-length novel (under a pseudonym) entitled Dreams in the Medina.
After completing her MA, Kathryn wrote her PhD at the University of Bristol, in Sociology. Her research focus was on community and identity in the Middle East, particularly in the context of religious conversion. Her PhD research was also recently published by Regnum Books, in a book entitled Searching for Heaven in the Real World.
Over the course of her research, Kathryn’s attention was increasingly drawn to the importance of caring for the poor, the sick, the hungry, and the most vulnerable people, as well as the value that education and community dialogue can have in societal transformation. So after completing her postgraduate studies, she began working in community development and humanitarian relief work for a variety of different organisations in various different roles. In addition to consulting for some local organisations based in the Middle East, she worked for Catholic Relief Services, World Vision and Save the Children in nearly a dozen different countries. Her experience ranged from project management in emergency disaster relief, to project design, to strengthening the capacity of local civil society to engage in peace and reconciliation work. Most recently she served as a monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning advisor in the Syria response.
In September 2013, Kathryn began working as a Lecturer in International Development at the University of East London. In this role, she looks forward to training a new generation of community development and relief workers, and pursuing her research into the power of storytelling as a tool for conflict transformation.