Geography

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MPhil/PhD, or option of joint PhD with HKU/Humboldt/NUS

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Part Time, Full Time

Staff interests associated with the research programme and its research groups

The Cities Group is one of the largest research groupings of urban researchers in the United Kingdom with 11 academic staff members and 25 PhD students and research associates. The international profile of the Cities Group is evident with staff members of the group having held research and teaching positions in universities in Europe, North America, East Asia, Africa, and Australia. This profile is enhanced by a number of PhD projects that include single-city studies in Berlin, Hong Kong, London, Dar es Salaam, Shanghai and Taipei, as well as multi-centred investigations in Belgium, Canada, USA, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan and China.

Research by the Cities Group is focused on different aspects of social, economic, political and cultural change in cities. The group's research is intra-national and inter-national in scope including comparative analyses of major world cities, primarily in Europe, North America, Pacific-Asia and parts of Africa and Latin America. The research of the Cities Group seeks to understand the behaviour and interactions of governance structures, institutions, social groups, and individuals, as expressed in terms of socio-economic formations and physical transformations, across the range of spatial scales from the neighbourhood to the city region. Important elements of this research include: a focus on urbanism and social justice; fear, risk and security in cities; social exclusion; urban sustainability; the social construction and representation of urban issues; migration, housing and social change; urban economic change and social well-being; the cultural geography of economic power; gender and the city; urban public spaces; and the politics of city programmes for the poor.

The scope of research leads to a diversity of epistemological and methodological approaches adopted by members of the Cities Group, with current projects using archival and social survey analysis, ethnography, large-scale statistical data sets, and interpretative studies of film, landscape and written material.

The work of the group is not constrained by a single theoretical perspective on cities, but is characterised by a commitment to the pursuit of high standards of intellectual enquiry into, and multidisciplinary understanding of, urban processes and change. In particular, the group's research is united in its affirmation of space and geography as an integral component in contemporary urban change, while seeking to develop insights that are relevant for an understanding of urban public policy and the politics of sustainable cities.
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I am a radical geographer who works within the broadly defined area of urban political ecology. Rather than seeing the city as the antithesis of nature, my research seeks to make sense of the urban as one of many produced environments. Most of my concrete research has looked at people’s ability to access water, as well as the acts and the sense-making involved in provisioning a household with water. My doctoral research focused on the South African city of Durban but I’m equally interested in cities in both the global North and South. Probably the easiest way of introducing my research is through several of the projects I have worked on recently.

Everyday-Environmentalism by Alex LoftusEveryday Environmentalism: Creating an Urban Political Ecology brings together my main theoretical interests with concrete studies of water politics in Durban and critical spatial practices in London. It develops a sympathetic critique of contemporary environmental movements by pondering what it might mean to develop an environmental politics based upon quotidian acts of making metropolitan natures. The key thinkers put to work in the book are Neil Smith, Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, Georg Lukacs and Henri Lefebvre.

Gramsci edited by Alex LoftusGramsci: Space, Nature, Politics, this co-edited book with Mike Ekers, Gillian Hart and Stefan Kipfer, brings together a range of different authors all concerned with rethinking Antonio Gramsci’s philosophy of praxis within the present conjuncture and in relation to space, nature and the question of the political. The collection contributes to the renewed interest in Gramsci’s writings and, as with other recent studies, questions some earlier, more instrumental, readings of the Sardinian’s work, paying closer attention to questions of linguistics and the distinctiveness of Gramsci’s marxism.

Right-to-Water edited by Alex LoftusThe Right to Water: Politics, Governance and Social Struggles, co-edited with Farhana Sultana, brings together a series of essays on the political potentials within – as well as the frustrations experienced by – recent movements advocating for the right to water. Within the movement for the right to water, and also within academic debate, many have begun to question whether the UN’s recent recognition of the right to water will be enough to effect genuine change in people’s ability to access water. Rather than simply rejecting the right to water as reformist, obfuscatory, limiting or misleading, the book seeks to make sense of the political possibilities within a growing movement for fairer access to water. The different authors position a range of theoretical debates and concrete struggles within a broader context, recognising both geographical specificity and the potentials for making a broader movement.

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He is regarded as a leading British expert on housing wealth and inheritance and a leading researcher in the fields of social polarization, gentrification and housing. He has authored or co-authored a number of books including Cities, Housing and Profits (1989), Shrinking the State: the political underpinnings of privatization (1998) Winners and Losers: home ownership in modern Britain (1999), Unequal City: London in the global arena (2003) and with Tim Butler Ethnicity, Class and Aspiration: remaking London's New East End (2011).
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+44 (0)20 7848 2611
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My research interests span urban, cultural and social geography and fall broadly into three main themes: the first – urban queer culture – originates from my PhD, which examined London’s rapidly reconfiguring queer geography in the broader context of entrepreneurial urban governance and new forms of sexual citizenship. A specific focus of this research concerns the valorisation of certain forms of sexual identity in the neoliberal city and the parallel eviction of cultures less prone to commodification. The second strand of my research consists of collaborative work in the field of geographies of religion and has focused in particular on the transnational debates over homosexuality in the worldwide Anglican Communion. Finally, the third and most recent of my research interests concerns questions of cultural representation and political economy. This area of interest, which will form a major part of my research agenda in the next few years, has a specific focus on the interplay between urban change and aesthetic innovations in cinema.
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+44 (0)20 7848 2625
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The main focus of my research over the past five years has been the mining of telecommunications and transportation data sets to provide insight into human socio-economic behaviour at the regional and national scales. The breadth and depth of these data sets has enabled me to pursue a wide range of interests including: firm internationalisation and location choice, social network analysis, disruption effects in public transit and airline systems, and constraints on access to opportunity in London.

Looking forward, I hope to begin bringing in some historical perspective: working to produce a book that looks back at nearly 120 years of location theory; exploring the historical growth of Britain's telecommunications system; and examining the connection between telecommunications/ICT usage and London's innovative small firms. The other area of interest is in quantification: improving our understanding and prediction of how disruptions produced by weather, crowding, or security issues produce knock-on effects on nearby stations through the integration of usage data and better modelling of route choice by transit users; and looking for ways to measure the relationships embodied in the social networks of businesses.

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+44 (0)20 7848 1372
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Dr De Genova is an interdisciplinary urban geographer with more than two decades of ethnographic, historical, and sociolegal research experience related to transnational migration, race, class, and citizenship in the United States, as well as the larger colonial/imperial interrelationship between the United States and Latin America, and with intellectual interests in the production of space, global political economy, state formation, securitisation, nationalism, nativism, postcoloniality, and critical social theory, more broadly.

In recent years, furthermore, Dr De Genova has also become increasingly interested in the politics of migration, race, and securitisation in the UK and the wider European context. Indeed, he recently initiated a multi-disciplinary research network on ‘The “European” Question: Postcolonial Perspectives on Migration, Nation, and Race’ with migration and border studies scholars from across Europe.
Dr De Genova is currently writing a new book, The Migrant Metropolis, concerned with contemporary transformations in urban life as crucial intersections of global economy, sovereign (state) power, regimes of mobility control, and the freedom of movement, especially as this latter figure may be explored in relation to the autonomy of migrant transnationalism and community formation. The study would begin from the diverse insights of the ethnographic and historical studies of migration and borders as a strategy for grounding a conceptual discussion of power (as may be excavated from a critical reconsideration of the works of Marx, Foucault, Benjamin, Arendt, and Agamben, among others), in order to then elaborate upon the critiques of everyday life, the society of the spectacle, and the production of contradictory and differential space (principally at stake in the works of Lefebvre and Debord). Concerned with a series of problems of social and political theory, this book nonetheless seeks to elaborate the stakes of a genuinely global critical human geography. It marshals insights from the empirical study of migration, border crossing, transnational urbanism, and struggles over immigration law and securitisation, in the effort to re-think national and transnational space through the critical lens of the incipient and differential spaces that may be called the migrant metropolis. From this ethnographically informed standpoint of critique, this book will situate the freedom of movement as a central question for social and spatial theory as well as a wide range of interdisciplinary geographical and political enquiry concerned with globalisation, more generally.
In addition, Dr De Genova is presently preparing a proposal for major research funding for a new multi-sited ethnographic team project on “The Migrant Metropolis in Europe,” to study “low-skill,” “non-European” migration to as many as nine European cities, specifically: London, Paris, Moscow, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rome, Athens, and Istanbul. As a rigorously comparative study directed at addressing the same themes by means of the same methods in distinct but variously analogous urban settings, accompanied by a comprehensive study of European border enforcement and the disparate nation-state regimes of immigration and citizenship law, this project aspires to make significant contributions of urgent contemporary relevance to both scholarship and wider public debate.

The genesis of this variety of intellectual preoccupations and research interests may be readily discerned in Dr De Genova’s previous work, including numerous academic journal articles and book chapters, and most importantly:
Working the Boundaries: Race, Space, and "Illegality" in Mexican Chicago (author; Duke University Press, 2005)

Latino Crossings: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and the Politics of Race and Citizenship (co-authored with Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas; Routledge, 2003)

Racial Transformations: Latinos and Asians Remaking the United States (editor; Duke University Press, 2006)

The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement (co-edited with Nathalie Peutz; Duke University Press, 2010)

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+44 (0)20 7848 2243
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Over the last decade the Earth and Environmental Dynamics (EED) Research Group has forged a high-profile, multi-disciplinary approach to geographical science, the intellectual thrust of which links in situ monitoring, remote sensing and simulation modelling to extend our understanding of Earth's hydrological, terrestrial and atmospheric environments and in particular the fluxes of energy, water, carbon, biological and non-biological materials that flow between them.

Research is conducted at multiple spatial scales, from detailed process-based investigations to large-scale regional, continental and even global studies. The group's research is inherently international in scope and impact, and is supported by substantial research funding from a wide range of UK, EU and international sources. The group has two laboratories staffed by dedicated technicians; an Experimental Hydrology and Geomorphology lab primarily used for conducting simulation experiments, and a more analytical laboratory for the characterisation of Earth surface materials and properties. There is also a set of high quality, field-deployable instrumentation such as spectrometers, differential GPS, total stations, weather stations, eddy flux towers, and sensors/data-loggers for examining a wide range of environmental variables and their changes over time and space.

Fieldwork forms an important component of the group's research programme. Recent examples include study of Ecuador's tropical montane rainforests; wildfires and carbon release in Canada; heat emissions from central America's volcanoes; Zambian irrigation schemes; the Tagliamento River in NE Italy, urban climates in Burkina Faso, Poland and North America, and climate and population change in the Sahara.

The group strives to make substantial demonstrable use of their high-impact geographical research in support of decision-making, both in term of assisting policy development and via the provision of 'decision support' tools to those in environmental management. The aim is to strengthen the development and operation of sustainable environmental practices.
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James’ research examines interactions across space and time between the structure and function of physical and social components of landscapes. This research makes innovative use of quantitative modelling and simulation tools, such as agent-based models (ABMs), to mediate between theory and data for the investigation of geographic phenomena. Substantively, much of James’ previous work has examined ecological processes and human-environment interactions to inform the sustainable management of multi-resource landscapes. For example, in the Mediterranean Basin his research advances understanding for management of post-industrial landscapes, in part by improving understanding about pre-industrial landscape change. More recently James has become interested in some of the epistemological questions surrounding computational modelling tools and has begun exploring how they can be employed to further understanding across Geography more broadly.
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+44 (0)20 7848 2604
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Nick Clifford's research interests lie in the fields of river processes and management; in sustainable use of natural systems (especially water); and in geographical and environmental methods, techniques and philosophy. Priorities include: developing simulation modelling and field protocols for improved habitat design in managed rivers; promoting improved water resource evaluation and participant resource evaluation for water resources; and fostering multi-disciplinary fluvial science see the River Science network.

His present research foci are:

  • improving design and assessment criteria for river rehabilitation and conservation works
  • the emerging field of eco-hydraulics and eco-hydraulic modelling
  • effects of signal crayfish on sediment transport and physical habitat in the River Windrush, Oxfordshire, UK (with Dr Gemma Harvey, and Dr Alex Henshaw of Queen Mary, University of London) and Dr Tom Moorhouse (WILDCRU, University of Oxford)
  • the interface of water science, society and policy, directed towards the exploration of novel means of environmental knowledge creation and knowledge transfer.
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+44 (0)20 7848 1734
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Alongside the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, the combustion of biomass in open vegetation fires is one of the key pathways by which humans directly affect Earth's atmosphere. The gases and particulates released in biomass burning plumes have substantial short- and long-term chemical, radiative and climatic impacts, and proper assessment of their effects generally requires spatio-temporally resolved data on the makeup and magnitude of emissions sources.
My research attempts to improve our knowledge of the precise makeup and magnitude of biomass burning emissions. The initial focus of my research was on establishing the accuracy of an open-path infrared spectroscopic methodology for determining trace gas concentrations. After confirming the reliability of the method (in Smith et al., 2011), measurements made at fires during field excursions to Alberta (Canada), Northern Territory (Australia) and Northumberland/Dorset (UK) have been used estimate emission factors for a variety of trace gases. Current wildfire research includes modelling total gaseous emissions from UK moorlands, establishing a method for estimating emission factors from solar occultation spectra, and linking aerosol optical depth of smoke plumes with gaseous emissions. Other research interests include establishing new methods for measuring cloud cover and cloud types, and using these to model atmospheric transmissivity.

Recently I have embarked on a NERC-funded knowledge exchange project with the UK Fire and Rescue Service. Building on existing links with Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS), the project aims to enhance the “wildfire training” programme offered by NRFS. The KE project has begun to develop the use of fire modelling tools in the UK wildfire training programme to enhance officers’ understanding of vegetation fire behaviour. The project also exploits airborne infrared imaging from low-cost unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – allowing recording and replaying of ‘training fires’, supporting future training of FRS personnel, but also providing valuable research-quality fire intensity and rate-of-spread data. The Wildfire Research Knowledge Exchange Portal is full of useful data.

For more details on Tom’s research and publications, visit the KCL wildfire group’s website, Tom’s twitter feed, or feel free to email thomas.smith at kcl.ac.uk

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+44 (20) 7848 2525
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Members of this research group are social scientists interested in research on the environment, politics and the process of development (North and South). Current geographical interests include north, central and south America, west and southern Africa, south, south-east and east Asia, as well as Europe. We have a strong international focus, reflected both in the journals members regularly contribute to and edit, and the range of funded research projects in which they participate.

Members are interested in the following issues and themes: social theory and the environment; development and political ecology; debates surrounding the construction of 'nature'; environmental values and governance; environmental policy and management; 'pro-poor' policies in developing countries; human security and the environment; boundaries and geopolitical frontiers; agri-food policy and rural Europe.
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In his research Andrew attempts to map the connections between places of production and spaces consumption, with a specific focus on the linkages between poverty in Africa and affluence in the global North. His aim is to understand geographies of underdevelopment and challenge inequality. One of the understudied geographies of the world economy is the large-scale export of second-hand clothing form the global North to Africa, which Andrew explored in his PhD thesis titled: Riches from Rags or Persistent Poverty? Inequality in the Transnational Second-hand Clothing Trade in Mozambique.

The consumption and re-use of clothing traces a transnational gradient of inequality between the rich and poor. His thesis examined the (re)production of second-hand clothing commodities in Britain, the international economic geographies of the used-clothing trade and the labour activities of African market traders. Patterns of trade were investigated through a theoretical approach which draws upon Ben Fine’s ‘system of provision’ analysis from heterodox economics and connects this to existing commodity studies approaches in geography. Within global second-hand clothing networks there are differential power relations between charities, companies and individuals. The socially and historically embedded roles of British charities and firms in the collection, processing and export of second-hand clothing were introduced and connected to the main empirical exploration of the downstream social and economic impacts of second-hand clothing imports in Africa. Linkages are made across the new and used clothing sectors and in the relationships between the decline of clothing industries across Africa, economic liberalisation and the growth of used-clothing imports. This short video summarises his second-hand clothing research. Papers from his PhD thesis have been presented at the Association of American Geographers, the Centre of African Studies at the University of Cambridge and the Royal Geographic Society. Three articles have subsequently been accepted for publication in Development and Change, Geoforum and Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture. which are all extensions of the work he undertook for his PhD.

A further research interest he has which is conceptually related to his work on second-hand clothing is the international trade in used cars. He has explored this trade pattern through a study of embedded networks of power and corruption in the import of used Japanese cars to Mozambique which he presented at the European Conference of African Studies and is published in the Geographical Journal.

He has also investigated Chinese investment in Africa. This topic was researched through a case study of a Chinese owned clothing factory in Zambia, which was published in the Journal of Southern African Studies. He presented these research findings at Oxford University, the Africa – Asia Centre for the Royal African Society and appeared as an expert on Chinese investment in Africa on CNBC’s Markets Africa programme.

Andrew is continuing to research links between production and consumption and this includes a new paper on the material culture which surrounds the production of distinctive textures of value in ‘ethical’ goods, such as Vivienne Westood’s ‘Made with Love in Nairobi’ handbags. He is also co-authoring an article with Yiwonda Banda, which explores changes in the Malawian Legal System from the pre-colonial period to the present day through case study analysis of murder trials. In addition he is preparing review chapters on ‘consumption’ and ‘fieldwork in Southern Africa’ for edited books.

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+44 (0)20 7848 2571
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My main research interests are in nature and the city, and especially in the way in which environmental issues are constructed and deployed politically and ideologically in a range of contexts. To this end, my current research focuses on:
  • Eco-city mega-projects and sustainable urbanism in emerging economies, especially in China and the Gulf.
  • The emergence of the green economy and of new sectors within the economy, such as the cleantech sector.
  • Critical approaches to urban sustainability and low-carbon economies.

I have also carried out historical work on nature and the city, with a particular focus on fascist Italy (1922-43) and on New Towns and other projects in Italy and its colonies in East Africa during the 1920s and 1930s.

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+44 (0)20 7848 2275
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Current Projects

Understanding Water Governance in Challenging Environments: How Institutions Adapt to Change

British Academy funded project
This project pursued in partnership with colleagues at the Universities of Bradford and Dar es Salaam aims to explore the evolution of institutions for resource governance in the Usangu plains, Tanzania.

Water Equity for Southern and Eastern Africa

I have joined with colleagues from universities in the Netherlands, Denmark, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Tanzania to establish this action- research network aiming to pursue comparative empirical work on water governance and its outcomes in different governance contexts.

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+44 (0)20 7848 1755
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Frans Berkhout has extensive research, research management and research training experience across a number of fields. His early research was concerned with the economic, political and security aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle and radioactive waste management. His more recent work has been concerned with science, technology, policy and sustainability, with a focus on climate change.

His main current research activity is in the PATHWAYS project (2013-2016, funded
under FP7 of the European Commission) which is investigating the dynamics of transitions in socio-technical systems, including energy, transport and agro-food systems in Europe.

Systems innovation: The theoretical, methodological and empirical study of change in large socio-technical systems, including energy, transport, agro-food and urban systems. The work is informed by the history, economics and sociology of technical change and is concerned with understanding and informing ‘transitions’ towards more sustainable systems of provision. My current focus of activity is within the EU-funded PATHWAYS project (with Bruno Turnheim and a new PhD student) which is aiming to bridge between modelling, transitions studies and action research approaches to understanding transition processes.

Climate change adaptation: Research on the incentives, constraints and limits to adaptation by organisations and other social actors. This work is informed by behavioural organisational theory and policy studies, understanding that the adaptive capacity of actors is institutionally-situated. The focus of my current work flows from my work in the IPCC on ‘limits to adaptation’ and the nascent application of a risk-based approach we developed to the problem of ‘loss and damage’ in the UNFCCC. I am interested in developing approaches to specifying limits to adaptation that may inform novel approaches to the governance of losses suffered as actors reach such limits.

Global resource securities: Research on the emergence of ‘systemic risks’ associated with climate change related to key global resources (food, energy, commodities). This is a new research interest would aim to build links stretching from integrated assessment and climate modelling to security and governance studies. It responds to a recent concern in global change research with ‘tipping points’ and ‘thresholds’, and aims to understand how thresholds of insecurity may emerge in critical globally-connected sectors, partly influenced by the impacts of climate change.

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+44 (0)20 7848 1306
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George’s research is situated at the interface between palaeoclimatology, environmental history and climate change adaptation and policy. His research explores the use of historical records to inform contemporary climate and natural hazards responses, both scientifically through an extension of the historical meteorological record and through analyses of adaptive management to droughts and floods in the past. George’s work also examines narratives of climate through history, with a view to increasing understanding of the socio-political discourse of climate today; in particular, analysing nineteenth-century European colonial discourses on tropical climates.

George is a member of the steering committee of the AHRC-funded network “Collaborative research on the meteorological and botanical history of the Indian Ocean, 1600-1900”. He is currently working on a volume on societal responses to the El Niño Southern Oscillation through history, co-authored with Professor Richard Grove (Australian National University).

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+44 (0)20 7848 2802
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I am interested in the relationships between climate, history and culture. In particular, I seek to analyse and illuminate the numerous ways in which climate change is deployed in public and political discourse around the world. To accomplish this I draw upon theories and methods from science and technology studies, geographies of science, political philosophy and environmental history.

My research and teaching operate at the intersections of climate, science, history and culture. In particular, I study how scientific knowledge about climate change is made and represented and analyse and illuminate the numerous ways in which climate change is deployed in public and political discourse around the world. To accomplish this I draw upon theories and methods from science and technology studies, geographies of science, political philosophy and environmental history.

I am a member of the Advisory Board of the STEPS Centre at the University of Sussex and am an Advisor to the EU FP7 funded ECOPAS Network, the European Consortium for Pacific Studies. As well as mentoring my group of PhD students, the following two projects are active in 2014:

Writing Fellowship

I have been awarded a Carson Writing Fellowship for 2014 at the Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and Society at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Münich. This is a personal award and will allow me to spend 5 months from April-September 2014 as a Fellow of the Center. The Rachel Carson Center is part of a funding scheme launched by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) that was devised to internationalize the humanities in Germany. Carson Fellows are expected to work in residence on a major research project that pertains to one or more of the Center’s research themes.

Cultures of Prediction

I am an international collaborator on this project, Cultures of Prediction: knowledge, authority and the construction of climate change, led by Professor Matthias Heymann at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. It is funded by the Danish Research Council and examines the emergence of climate modelling as a culture of prediction in the formative period between ca. 1960 and 1985. Climate modelling has played a major role in forging a scientific consensus about climatic change. Scientific consensus, however, tends to hide the social relations, complex negotiations and tangible interests behind the consensus itself. The project runs until 2016 and as part of the project I will be convening an international workshop at King’s College in the winter of 2015.

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+44 (0)20 7848 2487
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Two common threads link my research interests. The first is the neoliberal restructuring of European welfare states and the second is the investigation of alternative paths of development taken by newly industrialized countries (e.g. BRICS and CIVETS) that explore different approaches to those of western states. Among these countries China represents one of the most interesting alternatives, and I explore this in some of my most recent work on global patterns of enterprise. These divergent pathways result in very different kinds of regional inequalities and political processes, both of which are central to an understanding of labour markets, welfare states and policy change in Europe and beyond.
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Tel: +44(0)20 7848 1624
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Stemming from my research interests in the politics of natural resources management, I examine three inter-related themes: institutions of water allocation; power and environmental discourse; scale and agency.

Institutions of water allocation: My PhD focused on conflict and cooperation between states over shared waters. The thesis made an original contribution in identifying how conflict and cooperation coexist and developed a conceptual framework, the Transboundary Waters Interaction NexuS (TWINS), to examine changes of conflict and cooperation intensity between basin states. The research found that relative material capability and discursive power of basin states influence the establishment and implementation of water management institutions.

Power and environmental discourse: I examine how environmental issues are discursively framed by various actors involved in natural resources management and governance. I employ securitization theory and interpretive policy analysis to analyse the role of discursive power. The empirical research focuses on issues such as water resources management, hydropower development and ‘green economy’ in developing country contexts.

Scale and agency: The politics of scale inform my research on water resources management. My empirical work examines cross-scalar implications of water resources governance and the role of deliberative actors. In addition, I am looking at the cross-sectoral linkages realised through multi-scalar water governance, such as energy and water.

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+44 (0)20 7848 2865
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Ruth’s research focuses on the geographies of decolonisation and the postcolonial, and she explores these issues through a number of different lenses.

First, Ruth’s work has considered the institutions of the ‘modern’ Commonwealth, focusing on everything from enthusiastic engagements and intergovernmental politics. From popular engagements with the Commonwealth in post-war Britain through expeditions, festivals and exhibitions, which forms the basis of a number of journal articles and an online exhibition, to a more recent focus on the geopolitics of Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings in Southern Africa and South East Asia (funded by the British Academy and an Association of South East Asian Studies in the UK Visiting Fellowship) she has mapped out the ideas, performances and experiences of becoming postcolonial. This work has allowed her to contribute to conceptualisations of North-South relations during and after decolonisation, and to explore the interaction of questions of conviviality, hospitality, internationalism and race in this era. She is Co-Investigator on a major new AHRC funded project which is based at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, An Oral History of the Modern Commonwealth, 1965-2010.

Second, Ruth’s research interested in broader cultures and geographies of decolonisation. Her new work (with Hannah Neate, University of Central Lancashire) explores the connections between decolonization and British Urbanism. Specifically, the project examines the involvement of colonial experts of various kinds – administrators, planners, architects, anthropologists - in the construction and management on British New Towns.

She also organised a two-day interdisciplinary symposium entitled ‘Cultures of Decolonisation’ at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in 2012 (with Dr Claire Wintle, University of Brighton) on this theme.

Extending this interest in the post-war built environment, Ruth is also interested in the conservation of modern architecture, and in the role of volunteers and enthusiasts in this process. She has explored these issues in a research project about Architectural Enthusiasm in collaboration with Hilary Geoghegan (UCL) and Hannah Neate (University of Central Lancashire), which is funded by the British Academy.

Ruth is a Research Associate, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Studies, University of London, a member of the Conference Advisory Panel for the International Conference of Historical Geography, London 2014 and Membership Secretary of the Historical Geography Research Group, RGS-IBG. She is also on the Editorial Board of The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs and The London Journal.

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+44 (0)20 7848 7980
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Bringing together scientific expertise on various environmental hazards, such as floods, volcanoes, and water contamination, with work elsewhere across the department and in the affiliated King's Centre for Risk Management on risk perception and communication and on the governance and social theory of risk, this multidisciplinary research group has made major contributions to the development of risk both as a field of academic study and body of policy-relevant know-how. Our research is focused around three interlinked themes:
  • Natural and Environmental Health Hazards.
  • Risk Regulation and Governance.
  • Risk Perception and Communication.

We are distinctive for our ability to synthesize and span divisions between the natural and social sciences and for applying that know-how beyond Europe and North America to developing countries as well.
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Aeolian geomorphology, complex systems; physics of saltation, turbulence in boundary layers, vegetation and aeolian sand transport, development of dune landscapes, self-organization models, aeolian streamers, spatio-temporal variability in transport.
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020 7848 2421
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Natural hazards (wildfires, earthquakes, floods, landslides), environmental hazards (heavy-metal contamination), time series analyses, and confronting models with data in the broad environmental sciences.
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020 7848 2466
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Health geography; consumption; critical geographies of public health; lifestyles; political economy of food; urban political ecology.
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+44 (0)20 7848 1735
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Critical water resources geography; social networks and environmental management; global approaches to terrorism; South Asia.
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020 7848 1667
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Politics of climate change; environmental history; philosophy of science; social theory; North America.
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020 7848 2622
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Historical geography; 19th-century labour protests; public welfare, wealth and the middle class; social exclusion of young people; London.
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020 7848 2721
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Dr Potts works in the broad research field of urbanisation and migration in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly southern Africa. She also works on land and environmental issues in the region in the context of political ecology. Her research on rural-urban migration in sub-Saharan Africa examines migration rates and motivations, rural-urban linkages, urban-rural movements, migrants' land rights and analytical approaches to urban migrancy and migrants within the Africanist literature. In terms of urbanization she is interested in the nature of urban growth, evaluating the ways in which changing economic patterns in most African countries have had profound effects on contemporary urbanization and rates of net in-migration. An important research interest focuses on how structural adjustment policies in most sub-Saharan African countries have affected the livelihoods of the urban poor, as their real incomes have fallen and informalization of the economy has progressed. These two strands of her research have been followed through since 1985 with an ongoing longitudinal research project on rural-urban migrants in Harare, Zimbabwe. She also has a longstanding interest in the nature and provision of low-income housing in African cities. She has recently published two co-edited volumes on development challenges in East and southern Africa, and on African urban economies and in 2010 will publish a new book on circular migration in sub-Saharan Africa which brings together her work both on general trends there in urbanization and internal migration and her longitudinal work on these issues in Zimbabwe. The linkage between land and migration has drawn her research also towards issues of land tenure and land reform in southern Africa, and the tensions between the approaches and policies towards environmental and agricultural issues designed by policy makers and economists, and the experience and perceptions of poor, rural people. Dr Potts also has a research interest in human fertility in Africa.
Tel:
020 7848 1572
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Risk regulation; regulatory transparency; accountability and public participation; regulatory reform; science and governance.
Tel:
+44 (0)20 7848 1123
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Modelling land surface and ecological impacts of environmental change especially land use change and climate change; desertification and land degradation in arid and semi arid environments; hydrological processes and impacts in Mediterranean and tropical environments with particular emphasis on vegetation hydrology interactions; tropical forest processes and dynamics especially with respect to tropical montane cloud forests; decision and policy support tools for modelling human impacts on the environment in dryland and tropical humid environments; environmentaol monitoring and remote sensing particularly from aerial photography and ground penetrating radar; Colombia, Ecuador, Philippines, Spain, Italy, Greece, North Africa.
Tel:
020 7848 2280
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Human impacts and adaptation to climate change, human vulnerability to natural hazards, international development, sustainable urbanisation, institutions and governance in risk management.
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020 7848 2462
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Earth observation; remote sensing; global biomass burning; atmospheric pollution; carbon cycle; infrared temperature measurement; environmental modelling; volcanology; geophysical hazards; spectroscopy.
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020 7848 2577
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Aquatic ecology; ecosystem function; river and estuary invertebrates; ecological responses to environmental change.
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+44 (0)20 7848 2641
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Remote sensing; GIS; semi-arid and arid zone geomorphology and geoarchaeology; land degradation and soil erosion; the Sahara Desert, India and Spain.
Tel:
020 7848 2798
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Risk communication and management; renewable energy policy; transboundary environmental issues; telecommunications; biosafety; food and pharmaceuticals.
Tel:
020 7848 1404
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Political ecology; forestry policy; NGOs and environmental politics; urban pollution; Asia.
Tel:
020 7848 2258
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Geography of international boundaries and territorial disputes; use of historical archives in political geography; Arabia and the Persian Gulf.
Tel:
020 7848 1345
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Labour mobility and housing within large organisations; allotments and community gardening; geographies of ageing and masculinity; Japan.
Tel:
020 7848 2628
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Riparian plant ecology and hydrogeomorphology; landscape ecology; plant physiological variability and its influence on ecological processes.
Tel:
020 7848 1233
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Urban regeneration and gentrification with special reference to London; the geography of education – specifically choice and achievement; the relationship between gentrification and education and/or ethnicity; change in East London; changes in class structure.
Tel:
020 7848 1693
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