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Dr Debbie Humphry

Profile summary

Professional biography

Debbie Humphry has worked as a researcher for twenty years, for the academic and voluntary sectors. Currently she is working at the Open University on the CHiLL project (Children's Lives in Changing Places), funded by the Nuffield Foundation, exploring young people's experiences of living in less advantaged places. This project is part of the international Growing UP in Cities 111 study.

Research interests

Debbie's research interests focus on the everyday experiences of home, neighbourhood and community activism, understood within broader socio-economic and political contexts, with a focus on social justice. She works closely with research participants, using a range of innovative participatory methods, bringing her experience as a photographer and community worker to her research. Previous research projects include: exploring the histories of community-led planning for Spaces of Hope/  (AHRC-funded); disabled people's activism and austerity capitalism (UK); pioneer residents' unequal experiences of home and soical mixing on the Olympic Park, London; class anlaysis of parents' social mobilities centred at a London primary school (ESRC-funded).

Teaching interests

Debbie has taught human geography at the University of Sussex, Kingston University, City University of London, Birkbeck University of London and UCL. Her topics include; home, housing, gentrification and displacement; austerity and its impacts; power and activism; employment and social mobility; qualitative, visual and participatory methods; theory and society.

Impact and engagement

Debbie is Scenes, Sounds Action Section editor for City: analysis of urban change, theory, action; board member of Action on Empty Homes and member of Homes for All and Community Plan for Holloway campaign groups. She has published widely in academic and media contexts including for the journal City: analysis of urban change, theory, action; Housing, Theory & Society Journal, The Guardian, The Independent and the New Economic Foundation. She has exhibited her social/documentary photography in the National Portrait Galley and the Royal Festival Hall.

External collaborations

Debbie had done research with and for various campaign organisations, including:

Evaluation of Community Plan for Holloway with Art of Regeneration.

Community Voices for Community Plan for Holloway, exploring residents' needs on the former Holloway prison redevelopment.

Evaluation of participatory lock restoration project for the Canal and Rivers Trust.

Young People's views on knife crime with Kentish Town Futures.

Activism in the context of austerity capitalism with DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts).

Growing UP in Cities research project, involving 18 countries and 24 study sites.

Board member of Action on Empty Homes.

Section editor of City: analysis of urban change, theory, action (Scenes, Sounds, Action).



Externally funded projects

Children’s lives in changing places
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01 Sep 202231 May 2024Nuffield Foundation

The most globally expansive research into young people’s contemporary urban life, Growing Up In Cities III (GUIC III) involves 18 countries where researchers in 24 study sites examine adolescent perceptions of urban space in order to better understand the impact the local environment has on their young lives. The intent of GUIC III is to empower children, providing them with a voice that advocates for their health and wellbeing, in contemporary urban contexts in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, El Salvador, India, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the USA. Aim: To understand how young people (aged between 10 and 15 years) use and derive meaning from their local environment; to develop insight into how the urban environment affects their lives, through observation and based on young people’s own words; and to apply this knowledge in support of meaningful change in the design and management of urban places. To address the aim and objectives, this project revolves around three general phases established in the 1990s GUIC II study (Chawla, 2002): a. A Research Phase: where qualitative and quantitative data is gathered on and with children, and the urban settings in which they live. b. An Action Phase: Findings/results are communicated and applied to an activity, initiative or project where outcomes lead to improvements in their lives. c. A Dissemination Phase: Young people’s views and voices are communicated to a range of decision makers in the local area where the study is being conducted and to a range of audiences worldwide to facilitate awareness and action, with the intention of improving their wellbeing and quality of life


‘I’ve always felt these spaces were ours’: disability activism and austerity capitalism: Reflections on City’s interview with DPAC. (2023)
Humphry, Debbie
City: analysis of urban change, theory, action, 27(1-2) (pp. 162-189)

[Editorial] Ja! Damit Berlin unser Zuhause bleibt! That Berlin will remain our home! حتى تظل برلين بيتنا Berlin evimiz kalsın diye! чтобы берлин оставался нашим домом Aby Berlin pozostał naszym domem! (2021-12-22)
Richter, Anna and Humphry, Debbie
City, 25(5-6) (pp. 561-569)

From residualisation to individualization? Social tenants’ experiences in post-Olympics East Village (2020-09)
Humphry, Debbie
Housing, Theory and Society, 37(4) (pp. 458-480)

Introduction to, and Interview with, Disabled People Against Cuts (2020-04)
Humphry, Debbie; Clifford, Ellen; Greene, Andy; Peters, Paula and Walker, Keith
City, 24(1-2) (pp. 376-399)

Campaigning in the time of coronavirus (2020)
Humphry, Debbie
City, 24(3-4) (pp. 423-430)

Primary school pupils' emotional experiences of synchronous audio-led online communication during online one-to-one tuition (2019-07)
Humphry, Debbie and Hampden-Thompson, Gillian
Computers & Education, 135 (pp. 100-112)

‘The Best New Place to Live’? Visual Research with Residents in East Village and E20 (2017-08-09)
Humphry, Debbie
In: Cohen, Phil and Watt, Paul eds. London 2012 and the Post-Olympics City A Hollow Legacy? (pp. 179-204)
ISBN : 978-1137489463 | Publisher : Palgrave MacMillan | Published : London

Inside Outside: a Visual Investigation of Belonging in a North London Neighbourhood (2013)
Humphry, Debbie
In: Kusenbach, Margarethe and Paulsen, Krista E. eds. Home: International Perspectives on Culture, Identity and Belonging. (pp. 249-268)
ISBN : 3631620098 | Publisher : Peter Lang International Academic Publishers | Published : Frankfurt am Maim

The commodification of intermediate housing, subsidies for the wealthy and community led alternatives. (2021-09-03)
Humphry, Debbie and Bernstock, Penny
In : IIBG/RGS The Royal Geographic Society Annual International Conference (31 Aug - 3 Sep 2021, London)

Community Voices for Holloway: What People want on the Holloway Prison Redevelopment (2021-03-22)
Humphry, Debbie; Mayo, Marjorie; Barbawoo, Much; Panjwani, Sarah Mussa and Seoighe, Rachel
Community Plan for Holloway, London.

Speaking out of Place: End of Project Report (2016)
Crockett, Nicole; Cohen, Phil and Humphry, Debbie
The Building Exploratory and LivingMaps Network, London.