Katy trained at Cambridge and the LSE. After spending much of her career at the University of Sussex she has recently returned to the LSE and is currently head of department.
Her work focusses on issues of globalisation, migration and economic change in Bangladesh and its transnational communities in the U.K. Her doctoral research, carried out in the 1980s, examined the transformations associated with overseas migration in a village in Sylhet, and resulted in her monograph Global Migrants, Local Lives: Travel and Transformation in Rural Bangladesh (OUP 1995).
Katy is also interested in the relationship between anthropology and development. Her book Anthropology, Development and the Post-modern Challenge (Pluto Press, 1996; with David Lewis) reflects both the theoretical and practical issues arising from this relationship. The second edition of this book, Anthropology and Development: Twenty First Century Challenges was published by Pluto Press in 2015.
Combined with her long term research in Bangladesh, Katy has conducted fieldwork amongst Bangladeshi communities in the U.K. Her monograph Age, Narrative and Migration: The Life Course and Life Histories amongst Bengali Elders in London (Berg, 2002) analyses the elders' narratives of migration, ageing and illness in the UK, and suggests that transnational migration can be usefully understood as a gendered and embodied experience. More recently, she has led a research project on transnational Bangladeshi children in London. This involved arts based methods as well as more conventional fieldwork, and culminated in an exhibition of children's art, held at the Museum of Childhood in Spring, 2009.
More recently, Katy has researched the role of multinationals and competing narratives of ‘development’ and ‘un-development’ in her original fieldwork site in Sylhet, where Chevron are operating a large gas plant. This work focuses in particular upon corporate programmes of community engagement, land loss and discordant ideologies of philanthropy and development. This research led to articles in the Journal of Peasant Studies, Modern Asian Studies and Economy and Society, as well a book, Discordant Development: global capitalism and the struggle for connection in Bangladesh.
Her interest in land, dispossession and ‘development’ also resulted in a special volume of the journal SAMAJ on Land, Development and Security in South Asia, which she co-edited with Eva Gerharz.
Katy is currently developing new research in Bangladesh on couples’ counselling, marriage mediation and divorce. She will be on research leave until January 2021.