Research in Human Geography at Keele is clustered around two broad themes:
1. Social Geography
Research focuses on issues concerned with population and social demography, international migration and super-diversity, rural and urban planning, GIS and its application, social justice and development, health geographies and inequalities and family mobility.
2. Cultural Geography
Research focuses on cultural economies and creative geographies (including curating development and community art and plastic waste), literary geographies, cross-cultural world literature and representations of space and place, post-colonial lifeworlds, animal geographies (animal welfare and pet theft) and nature-society relations.
Human Geography research at Keele is wide-ranging but particularly focused around Social and Cultural Geography. Details of research being undertaken by staff at Keele of relevance to each theme is provided briefly below.
A key area of research focuses around family mobility, social justice - including the importance of citizenship and volunteering and entrepreneurship - and emotional and health geographies. In this respect, current research is innovative and highly relevant to the world in which we live in today, including an exploration of the dystopian and utopian qualities of ‘busyness’ and issues around alcohol consumption, diabetes, smoking, vaping and health inequalities.
A second key area of research relates to international migration - including motivations and impacts, as well as people's place-based experiences of globalisation and development in a range of different contexts, including super-diverse communities. Research also considers the importance of transnational networks, changes in local livelihoods and the possibilities for locally sustainable, alternative economic development, and environmental degradation linked to migration.
Research at Keele also explores the governance, planning and regeneration of rural communities in the UK and beyond. In particular, recent work has explored the impact of new migration on rural communities, community-based approaches to rural regeneration and the challenges of mobility in rural-urban fringe environments. Staff are also actively using and applying GIS technology in a number of different contexts, including Historical Cartography, Geographies of Food and Eating and other relevant areas, such as exploring nationalism, geolinguistics and social media, land use change, electoral geographies and mapping housing supply and demand.
With reference to cultural geography research at Keele, an important area of investigation relates to postcolonialism, including issues of power, narrative, identity construction, class chasms, social and cultural change, and interdisciplinarity. The research on postcolonialism in Keele has expanded through the theorising of re-orientalism theory and discourse to include studies on commercial international surrogacy, precarity, hospitality studies, and romance. Staff at Keele have also expertise in two more distinct areas of postcolonial studies: i) a gendered approach on the social and spatial entrapment of women, the struggles of single women in growing middle-class urban spaces, the significant ongoing changes in the creation of (South Asian) women’s images and identities, as well as cultural changes within diasporic South Asian communities; ii) in textual representations of 21st century India and South Asia, particularly problematic and contested urban representations.
A second key area of research relates to the relationships between humans, animals, public knowledge and identity, and with a particular focus on historical otter hunting, contemporary otter conservation, animal welfare and pet theft.
Finally, a third and important area of research is focused around ‘creative geographies’. In this respect, researchers at Keele are using highly innovative and exciting methods of engagement focused around curating development and the use of community art and plastic waste.
- Family practices and mobilities; higher education and social justice; ‘busyness’ and family health in relation to substance (mis)use (Professor Clare Holdsworth).
- Migration, development and sustainability (Dr Deirdre McKay).
- Historical Cartography and GIS; Geographies of Food and Eating; Pedagogy of Geography; Human Geography; geolinguistics and GIS (Dr Alex Nobajas).
- New migration and superdiversity; urban and rural governance; community planning (Professor Simon Pemberton).
- Diabetes, smoking, vaping and health inequalities, including the social, cultural, embodied and spatial norms associated with e-cigarette use (Dr. Mark Lucherini).
Research students in Human Geography have dedicated office space in the William Smith Building. The building houses a vibrant community of postgraduate scholars and research staff. Research training and courses to enhance the employability skills of our research students are provided by the Learning and Professional Development Centre.
Our students are encouraged to participate in these as well as to attend and to present their work in several well established seminar series across the School and the Keele Institute for Sustainable Futures and the Keele Institute for Social Inclusion. The seminars run throughout the year and include both internal and external speakers. Our students also contribute to seminars in other parts of the University and take part in wider Keele graduate symposia and events. They engage with staff research that has attracted support from the ESRC, EPSRC, AHRC, Leverhulme Trust, British Academy and the ERC.
There is an active culture of grant-seeking and research engagement in human geography; members of the group have recently received research funding from the EU, ESRC, Leverhulme Trust; RGS-IBG; Higher Education Academy; British Academy, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement. There are opportunities for students to gain professional experience both through teaching and through contributing to externally funded research projects.
Research staff and students
Our supervisors work closely with research students to support their PhD research. Members of the Human Geography group present their work at international and national conferences and publish widely in the international literature, sitting on international editorial boards.
Supervisors draw on their extensive professional networks to mentor students. Research students are encouraged to use their own research to get involved in professional meetings and join research networks and to develop the profile and CV necessary for a successful career.
Our recent and forthcoming publications include monographs on: population geography, rural regeneration, post-colonial lifewords and archipelagos of care as well as numerous journal articles.
We are currently supervising research students working in a diverse range of areas including the international impacts of migration on rural areas, mobility challenges in the rural-urban fringe, migration and settlement responses to climate change in Africa, young people’s wellbeing and autotelic practices, intergenerational mobility, modelling agri-tourism, creative spaces and plastic waste and the meanings of cosmopolitan identities.