Welcome to the home of Northumbria University’s Social and Cultural Geographies Research Group. Research in this area embraces a range of interests across human geography at Northumbria University, whilst incorporating links with cognate social science subjects and encompassing relationships with organisations outside of academia.

Staff associated with this group are primarily interested in the co-production of space, identities, difference and inequalities through a range of geographical contexts across the UK, Europe and beyond. The group is concerned with both the development and application of critical geographical theory in this area, but also committed to spatial justice and the public utility of research through grounded methodologies, practical application and multiple forms of dissemination. Funding has been received from a range of sources including the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the European Union, the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand, third sector organisations and local government.

Current areas of research includes: creative industries; geographies of crime; geopolitics; labour geographies; media convergence; migration and everyday b/ordering; platform capitalism; sex work; visual methodologies; consumption and waste; energy geographies; urban transformations; political ecology.

Membership of the group stretches across all four Faculties of the University.

Current 2021-2022 Seminar Series

Social and Cultural Geographies Research Group 2022 Annual Lecture

‘Unhoming: On the politics of property and uprooting’

Dr. Romola Sanyal, London School of Economics, Thursday 16th June, 14:00-15:45 (online/in-person).

Full series in chronological order:

Parasitic Bordering: Public Institutions and Immigration Regimes, Prof. Kathryn Cassidy, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, Northumbria University (Wed 6th October 2021).

Territorial stigmatization and urban growth discourse on Chicago’s Southeast Side, Dr. Tilman Schwarze, School of Social & Political Sciences, University of Glasgow. Joined event SCGRG + Northumbria Urban Research Salon (Wed 27th October 2021).

The Permanence of Temporary Urbanism, Dr. Mara Ferreri, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, Northumbria University), with Dr Lauren Andres, Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, and Prof. David Pinder, University of Roskilde, Denmark (Weds 3rd November 2021).

The staying power of segregation: race, class and community struggle, Dr. Andrea Gibbons, Salford University (Weds 24th November 2021).

Thinking social difference in contemporary socio-spatial theory, Eden Kinkaid, University of Arizona (Thurs 20th January 2022).

Delineating (Dis)Order in Nepal’s Subnational Space: An Ethnography of Constitutional Cartography, Dr. Amy L. Johnson, Northumbria University (Weds 16th February 2022).

The labour of hope: meritocracy and neoliberal disconnection in post-revolutionary Egypt, Dr. Harry Pettit, Leverhulme Research Fellow, Northumbria University, (Wed 9th March 2022).

Disordering the world as we know it: refusals within and against European border regimes, Dr. Isabel Maier, Leverhulme Research Fellow, Northumbria University (Wed 11th May 2022).

Material politics of regulation: the chemical bureaucracy regimes, Dr Angeliki Balayannis, Geography, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, (Weds 1st June 2022).


2020-2021 Seminar Series

SCGRG Annual Lecture 2021, June 16th 2021 (15:00-16:45):

The Intimacy of Intersectionality: Navigating Geographies of Erasure, Dr. Azeezat Johnson, Queen Mary University of London. Discussant: Dr. Patricia Noxolo, University of Birmingham.

Full seminar series:

Conflict and Kinship: Homelessness, Safety and Belonging in Toronto’s Gay Village, Dr. Rae Rosenberg, University of Edinburgh, February 25th 2021.

Trump and Spectacle: Book launch and author-meets-critics panel. Talk: Trump and Spectacle: An Embodied Assemblage Approach (Bristol University Press), Dr. Jacob C. Miller (Dept of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Northumbria University). Panel: Dr. Jason Luger, Northumbria University; Dr. Natalie Koch, Syracuse University; Moderator: Kahina Meziant, Northumbria University, Friday March 12th 2021.

Comparative Urbanism, Pandemic Worlds, Dr. Julie Ren, University of Zurich, March 24th 2021.

2019-2020 Seminar series 

Wednesday, March 17, 2:00-3:00, Ellison A 009 “Vital Mobilities: Delivering Healthcare in a Changing Climate”, Dr. Stephanie Sodero, Postdoctoral Research in Vital Mobilities, University of Edinburgh

Abstract: Medical supply chains are geographically expansive, both reliant on carbon-intensive transport (e.g. ships, planes) and vulnerable to climate change impacts (e.g. hurricanes, floods). In this talk, I share my research on blood supply chains from the point of donation to the point of care in both Canada and the UK, with a focus on the impact of severe weather events. I then describe my most recent work on adaptations to saline IV solution shortages on mainland U.S. caused by the impact of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. I theorize ‘vital mobilities’ and how this concept is of use in the face of infrastructure disruption and carbon constraint. My research approach is grounded in the mobilities paradigm, which highlights the role of movement in society.

Wednesday, March 25, 3:00-4:00, Ellison A 009, Dr. Lazaros Karaliotas, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow. Title and Abstract TBA

Wednesday, May 6, 2:00-3:00, Ellison A 009, Dr. Sarah Coulthard, Department of Social Sciences, Northumbria University

Abstract: Multidimensional concepts of wellbeing are increasingly recognised to be useful in understanding the complex and diverse ways by which people interact with the natural environment. This seminar presents the main findings from WellFish- an ESRC funded project – which applied a 3D or ‘social’ concept of wellbeing to unpack human-environment relationships in small-scale fishing communities in Sri Lanka and India. In both countries, a social wellbeing approach revealed the centrality of social relationships to the achievement, or denial, of wellbeing. We discuss how ‘good marital relations’ were particularly important for women, and the influential role of relationships with loan sharks and middle men in shaping how people fish. These insights demand a broadening of focus from the dominant narrative of ‘economic man’ as driving human behaviour, to a more socialised understanding of people – living together – in their environment. Whilst this is nothing new to sociologists, relational aspects of wellbeing remain overlooked by natural resource management.  The seminar concludes with reflections on what wellbeing might contribute to debates on sustainable behaviour more broadly.

The contingent politics of compassionate urbanism, Dr. Derek Ruez, Tampere University, Space and Political Agency Research Group, Thursday, February 27th 2020, 3:00-4:00.

Opening up compassionate urbanism as an object of critical scrutiny, this talk examines the politics of recent moves toward compassion in urban governance discourse—raising questions along the way about the meaning of both politics and compassion as they are conceptualized and contested across scholarly, policy, and activist discourse. The presentation draws on research conducted in collaboration with Trushna Parekh in the city of Louisville, where a ‘compassionate city’ imaginary has been taken on both by politicians and by economic, migrant and racial justice activists. We argue that this turn toward compassion should be evaluated and understood neither in terms of the good intentions of compassion proponents nor exclusively through analyses that reduce compassion to a singular logic to be critiqued, but, instead, in terms of its contingent politics. This focus on contingent politics, then, becomes a starting point for considering both the depoliticizing nature of some approaches to compassion, as well as the potential for thinking compassion otherwise in dialogue with feminist, queer, and abolitionist thought.

A political geography of walking: a walk on the Jordan Trail, Dr. Olivia Mason, Newcastle University, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology.

Abstract: This paper explores a political geography of walking in two ways. First, expanding on a recent growth of work in critical and feminist geopolitics on territory and the body. Through exploring the process of walking on foot I argue territory can be reimagined and deterritorialised and bodies can create but also contest territory. To do this I bring into conversation cultural work on space, place, landscape with political work on terrain/territory/land. Second, a politics of walking is needed to capture more nuanced accounts of movement. Little research on walking has explored long-distance walking trails nor histories and contemporary practices of walking outside of Europe and North America. I draw on my research of walking in Jordan and engaging with a long-distance walking trail, The Jordan Trail, to offer an alternative history of walking. A history of walking connected with storied accounts of place: Bedouin nomadic movements, religious pilgrimages, colonial travel diaries, and Ottoman, Roman, and Nabatean trade routes (Mason, 2019). This engages with critical work in mobility studies on the need to capture accounts of movement that take into account non-western and indigenous time horizons (Sheller, 2018)

Governing landslide risk in post-earthquake Nepal: Reflections on policy, politics and the meaning of place, Dr. Katie Oven, Northumbria University, Geography and Environmental Sciences, December 11th 2019, Wednesday, 14:00-15:00, ELA 009.

Landslides are a pervasive hazard in rural Nepal where the impacts are manifest in very tangible ways: as a chronic threat to both lives and livelihoods; and via damage to or destruction of houses, farmland, roads and trails. While rural residents are very much aware of the causes and triggering mechanisms of landslides, and have developed their own ways of reducing the risks they face, gaps in local knowledge exist. This is particularly the case when the hazard context itself evolves, for example, following a high magnitude earthquake which brings new behaviours to otherwise familiar landscapes. The 2015 Gorkha earthquake, which triggered over 22,000 landslides, the equivalent of decades of ‘normal’ landsliding, is a case in point. Some land has gone, some is uninhabitable and in some places the risks are unknown and perhaps unknowable. Householders are rebuilding and are seeking definitive answers to their questions and concerns, but science remains some distance from being able to provide an answer, and government lacks technical capacity to respond. This uncertainty is compounded further by local politics and attachment to place which cannot be ignored. Drawing on research undertaken as part of a DFID/NERC Science for Humanitarian Emergencies and Resilience (SHEAR) project, I will reflect on the challenge of landslide risk management in the context of post-disaster reconstruction from the perspective of three interlinked themes: policy, politics and the meaning of place. In doing so, I seek to highlight the value of bringing seemingly incompatible datasets, generated from different epistemological positions, into dialogue for more effective risk management.

Feminist Geographies of Climate Change: From Climate Negotiations to Women in Mexico, Dr. Miriam Gay-Antaki, University of Edinburgh, School of Geosciences, November 8th 2019, Friday, 13:00-14:00 ELA 108.

Abstract: What can feminist geographies tell us about the connections between the vulnerability of some women to climate change impacts and the exclusions of people and viewpoints that occur in climate science, policy and action? I use feminist geography to ground environmental governance around gender and climate change by calling attention to the micropolitical and everyday practices encountered in the IPCC, the COPs and the households and communities in rural Mexico that are the recipients of gendered climate projects. I problematize tendencies in climate and development work that homogenize gender and promote simplistic solutions that fail to achieve gender equality or reduce the negative impacts of climate change. I propose that feminist geographies of climate change can challenge the global conversation of gender and climate change and better inform climate related problems and solutions.

The long legacy of short-life housing co-ops, Dr. Mara Ferreri, Northumbria University, Geography and Environmental Sciences, October 30th 2019, Wednesday, 13:00-14:00, ELA 009.

Abstract: The wave of organised mass squatting that started in London in the late 1960s had a profound impact on the city’s built environment, housing practices and imaginaries. Groups excluded from existing housing provision or seeking unconventional forms of collective dwelling occupied publicly-owned empty properties and set up networked, politicised and precarious housing commons. Social infrastructures of mutual support, local alliances and knowledge-sharing made this housing commoning possible; with time, some were formalised into ‘short-life housing co-operatives’, providing affordable community-led housing for thousands of individuals. During the 1990s, the temporary legal and social assemblages that sustained them succumbed to market pressures and changes in local policies. While most disappeared, however, others transformed into long-term social rented and self-managed cooperative housing. Drawing on archival research and in-depth interviews, in this presentation I revisit the little-known case of squats that became short-life co-ops in London to examine the specific political and institutional conditions that made them possible, their development over time, and their material and symbolic legacy as a housing commons.

Knowledge-based Bioeconomy: Research Perspectives for Economic Geography?, Dr. Daniel Schiller, Chair of Economic and Social Geography, Institute of Geography and Geology, University of Greifswald, Germany, (Sept 27, 13:00-14:00, location Sandyford 417).