Skip to main content
School of Geography

Dr Kerry Holden


Senior Lecturer in Human Geography

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 2779
Room Number: Geography Building, Room 102


Kerry’s research interests are in exploring knowledge cultures and practices transnationally. She focuses on examining the managerial, administrative and professional dimensions of science and technology, analysing the significance of political and moral economies that support how science travels and becomes politically viable. In pursuing her research, Kerry tracks between the geographies and anthropology of science and health, political science and history.

Kerry completed her PhD in Human Geography at King’s College London and undertook a postdoctoral research fellowship at Concordia University in Montreal examining the emergence of computer science communities in East Africa.


In my teaching, I aim to deepen the critical skills and theoretical knowledge of students, enabling them to question and to reflect on the world in which we live in imaginative and interesting ways. I have a strong believe that students should be encouraged to read regularly and to discuss key texts and ideas in seminars. I teach across the undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum in areas that are closely related to my research interests in social studies of science and technology, critical global health and social theory and methods.

  • GEG6134 Geography Technology and Society
  • GEG6141 New York: Nature in the City
  • GEG5103 Geographical Research in Practice
  • GEG5125, 6125 Boston Reworked: the Making of an American City (not running in 2019)
  • GEG7133/7140 Critical Global Health


Research Interests:

My research interests sit within geographical and anthropological approaches to science and technology and can be split into the following lines of inquiry:

The politics of global knowledge
My current research project, funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, explores the emergence of evidence regimes in political institutions in Africa. I focus specifically on the Ugandan Parliament, a continual target of donor-sponsored programmes designed to strengthen research capacity; which is often packaged as advancing the skills and resources to translate evidence into policymaking. Subsequent to working as a consultant on a programme managed initially by the UK Parliament, I designed and successfully applied for a research grant to examine more carefully how capacity is conceived and worked on in parliamentary contexts; how the political ideals and value systems that underpin interventions in research capacity circulate and find distinction; and how new epistemic orders emerge to influence political decision-making. Cutting across these questions are threads that attend to professionalism, institutional structures, ignorance and informality, and trust and survivalism.

Moral and political economies of science
A second area of interest addresses the moral and political economies of science that are increasingly articulated by the institutions, corporations and governments invested in promoting knowledge-economies. My interests lie in understanding how scientific institutions think; how moral economies form to service increasingly globalised and commercialised knowledge practices; and the regulatory and administrative scaffolding required to universalise science and technology and realise its relevance economically. This area of interest requires me to examine the history and stability of global knowledge networks, and the social and cultural communities that coalesce around scientific endeavours.

Digital infrastructuring in Africa
he emergence of data science and digital technologies has had enduring impacts on African societies. The growth in urban knowledge systems has been vitalised by changes in demographics and the spread of ICT infrastructures. My interest here is in these burgeoning technological communities that are imagining and attending to African problems in new ways.


  • Harsh, M., Bal, R., Wetmore, J., Zachary, G. P., & Holden, K. (2018). The Rise of Computing Research in East Africa: The Relationship Between Funding, Capacity and Research Community in a Nascent Field. Minerva56(1), 35-58.
  • Holden, K. and Jensen, N. (2016) From under the wheels of the juggernaut: global health networks, gold standards and the possibilities for social science critique, Science as Culture 26 (1): 124-132
  • Holden, K. and Van Klyton, A., (2016) Exploring the tensions and incongruities of Internet governance in Africa, Government Information Quarterly 33 (4): 736-745
  • Holden, K., (2015) Lamenting the golden age: love, labour and loss in the collective memory of scientists, Science as Culture 24 (1), pp. 24-45
  • Holden, K. and Demeritt, D. (2008) Democratising Science? The politics of promoting biomedicine in Singapore’s developmental state, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 26 (1), pp. 68-86


I welcome enquiries from potential PhD candidates whose interests connect with my own and cover topics such as:

Global knowledge practices, policymaking and politics
Global knowledge practices with a particular focus on Africa and including critical approaches to understanding global health, evidence informed policymaking and planning, digital cultures and data science, and humanitarian design.

Moral and political economies of science
The sociology of science and technology focussing on institutional structures, network formations, discursive strategies, managerialism, and professional identity and ethos.

Knowledge infrastructuring
I would be interested to hear from students exploring knowledge infrastructures that attend to questions emerging from living in an increasingly digitised world where the proliferation and production of knowledge and information is challenging epistemological norms and practices.

Public Engagement

I collaborate with a range of stakeholders that work in areas related to research capacity building in the South. These include the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP).

I’ve been involved in producing the following reports:

  • Draman, R., Titriku, A., Lampo, I., Hayter, E., and Holden, K. (2017) Evidence in African Parliaments, Oxford: INASP
  • Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (2014) Evaluation of the POST in Africa Programme, London: POST (contributing author)
  • POST (2010) POST Evaluation Report, London: Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

In Uganda, I’ve collaborated with the Ugandan Parliament Department of Research Services, Uganda National Academy of Sciences (UNAS), Uganda National Health Research Organisation. Alongside my colleague Dr Emmanueil Turinawe, I have presented our work to a variety of African based NGOs, consultancies and think tanks that include African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) and Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA).

These collaborations focus on improving how research and evidence are handled by political institutions and extend to consulting on training and skills development, peer review and knowledge management, and the formation of networks of intellectual exchange.

Back to top