Welcome to the University of Liverpool’s Geography Blog


Welcome to the blog for Geography at the University of Liverpool. Follow this blog for regular updates on our work including our research activities, comments on news stories and updates on what our staff, postgraduate and undergraduate students and alumni are doing. We hope this will help give an insight into the dynamic world of geography at the University of Liverpool and that the blog will become a space for conversation about what we do. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment or email us.

Introducing Dr Lucy Jackson, new lecturer in human geography

‘Mad about maps and all things associated with social difference’

Post by Dr Lucy Jackson

Lucy Jackson

About me: I’ve just started as a lecturer in Human Geography in the department of geography and planning, having moved from a post-doc position at the University of Sheffield. I’d describe myself as a critical social geographer with specialist interest in feminist geopolitics (more about my research interests below). I’m currently enjoying getting to know Liverpool a little better and am feeling super welcomed by all of my colleagues in the department (thank you!) I love maps (obviously!) and was recently introduced to the undergrads (by Paul Williamson) as the new ‘resident Singapore expert’ (I will try to live up to that title). I also have a travelling Welsh Dragon, called Norbert, who attends all of my overseas research trips (look out for him below). If you are interested in any of my research then feel free to drop me an email/ find me for a chat (Lucy.jackson@liverpool.ac.uk).

Lucy and Norbert the travelling Welsh Dragon

Lucy and Norbert the travelling Welsh Dragon

Biography: I completed my doctoral research in the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth in 2012 having also studied for my BA (2006) and MA (2008) at the same institution. My doctoral research, titled ‘Alternative sites of citizenship: emotions, performance and belonging for female migrants’, focused upon ideas of citizenship as a relational practice recognising it’s ever more social and cultural nature.

After leaving Aberystwyth, I moved to the University of Sheffield to work on the ERC funded LIVEDIFFERENCE project, led by P.I Professor Gill Valentine. This project involved five inter-linked projects to explore the extent and nature of everyday encounters with ‘difference’. Each of these projects involved collecting original data in the UK and Poland. My research with LIVEDIFFERENCE was conducted within Project C ‘Contested Spaces: Group Identities and Competing Rights in the City’. Here, I specifically focused on the spaces of conflict and interaction between pro-life and pro-choice groups, and between faith and secular groups in the UK.

After this, I continued working with Professor Valentine on an AHRC project on Intergenerational Justice. This project involved work in Uganda, the UK and China to look at issues around resource use, consumption, and attitudes towards the environment across different generations, involving research with families, communities, and NGOs in each context.

Through this research I’ve developed a broad interest in the field of critical social geographies, though the research I conduct connects across the social sciences. Through my research I aim to re-address questions of ‘the social’, not just in terms of social justice, but in terms of socio-spatial politics and the performative politics of everyday life within different societies. Working with theories around everyday practice such as de-certeau and Lebevre I look to bring political philosophy into human geography. I’ve recently come back from a research trip in Singapore looking at ‘claiming citizenship in a constrained public sphere’ with Dr Dan Hammett at Sheffield. This research was part funded by the Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID), with a blogpost to arrive shortly on their website.

I Love Singapore Hello Kitty

I Love Singapore Hello Kitty

Specifically, my research interests centre on these core principles (links to recent articles you might find interesting associated with each theme).

Feminist geopolitics, gender and everyday practice

G Valentine, L Jackson, L Mayblin (2014). Ways of Seeing: Sexism the Forgotten Prejudice? Gender, Place & Culture 21 (4), 401-414. DOI:10.1080/0966369X.2014.913007

Winiarska, A, Jackson, L, Mayblin, L and Valentine, G (2015). ‘They kick you because they are not able to kick the ball’: normative conceptions of sex difference and the politics of exclusion in mixed-sex football. Available online: DOI:10.1080/17430437.2015.1067778

Reproductive politics

Jackson, L and Valentine, G (2014). Emotion and politics in a mediated public sphere: Questioning democracy, responsibility and ethics in a computer mediated world. Geoforum, 52, 193-202. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2014.01.008


*Just out* Jackson, L (2015). Intimate citizenship? Rethinking the politics and experience of citizenship as emotional in Wales and Singapore. Gender, Place & Culture, available online: DOI:10.1080/0966369X.2015.1073695


Jackson, L (2015). Experiencing exclusion and reacting to stereotypes? Navigating borders of the migrant body. Area, available online: DOI: 10.1111/area.12146

Home, belonging, emotions

Jackson, L (2014). The multiple voices of belonging: migrant identities and community practice in South Wales. Environment and Planning A, 46, pages 1666–1681. doi:10.1068/a46248

Methodological innovations

Harris, C, Jackson, L, Mayblin, L, Piekut, A and Valentine, G (2014). ‘Big Brother welcomes you’: exploring innovative methods for research with children and young people outside of the home and school environments. Qualitative Research, available online: 10.1177/1468794114548947

Edinburgh Field Class 2015

Post by Dr Paul Williamson

Congratulations to this year’s Edinburgh field class photograph competition winners. Here are the winning entries for the category ‘Views of Edinburgh’:

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And here are the winning entries in the category ‘Students in action’:

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The field class took place in late-April and saw 43 Year 2 BA Geographers and 3 staff heading north, enjoying the warmest and sunniest Edinburgh-based week on record as they to put into practice a variety of research skills acquired over the last year and a half of study.

These included interviewing Members of the Scottish Parliament; surveying any member of the public unable to run away fast enough; interviews with local activists; and participant observation of the local nightlife.

Comparing the 'sense of place' of locals and students

Comparing the ‘sense of place’ of locals and students

This year students researched topics as diverse as perceptions of the newly launched tram network, factors explaining Scottish political allegiance, tourist perceptions of Edinburgh and a comparison of the Liverpool and Edinburgh students’ sense of place.

Tourist perceptions of Edinburgh

Tourist perceptions of Edinburgh

The final part of the field class focussed on data analysis, ranging from traditional graphs and tables of survey results through to the deconstruction of interview responses.

Survey results

Survey results

The Edinburgh Field Class is just part of our wider three-year field class programme, which includes trips to Mid Wales, the Lake District, Spain, California and Singapore. All of these trips are designed an ethos of ‘learning by doing’. Or, in Edinburgh’s Case, ‘learning by doing whilst getting a suntan’. Happy Days!

Performing Ethnography at Hunt & Darton Café

By Catherine Wilkinson

On Wednesday 25th March, I took up my Researcher in Residence placement at Hunt & Darton Café in Manchester. Hunt & Darton Café is an award-winning pop-up café which unites art with the everyday. Despite being an installation, presented by artists Jenny Hunt and Holly Darton, the café is fully-functioning with a range of food and drink. Through performance, Hunt and Darton showcase the ‘behind the scenes’ of the business; for instance, displaying their profits for the day on a blackboard for customers to see. It was my task to explore methods of documenting and archiving the live art and performance. During my ethnography of the café, I participated as a customer yet made audio recordings; took photographs; and made field diary entries. Because it was the 25th of the month (March), Hunt & Darton café naturally celebrated Christmas Day. In attempting to capture my observations from the day, in a way which does justice to the performativity of the café, I present to you a poem.




As I approached Hunt & Darton Café I could tell I was in for a treat,
Before I knew it I was greeted with “Happy Christmas, take a seat!”
There was a Christmas tree in the window, mulled wine, and mince pies,
I thought “It’s March, not December”, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Perhaps more strangely, I saw two ladies in broccoli dresses,
It was Hunt and Darton – they even had broccoli branches in their tresses.
The artists approached me, asking “would you like coffee or tea?”
“I’d love a cuppa thank you, with milk, but no sugar for me”.
As I sipped on my brew I marvelled at the crockery,
Then they commenced the quiz and I soon was made a mockery.
“How many sides does a snowflake have?” they asked.
“I know this, I thought…12” – “No, it’s six” – my knowledge was surpassed.
Question number 5 and my score was still zero,
Then a stranger sat down next to me – John – he fast became my hero.
John was getting questions correct left, right, and centre,
I mean – he even knew the name of the mince pie inventor!
The quiz was terminated momentarily as Hunt and Darton took their break,
John got up to leave “back to work for me” he said “I’ve got money to make”,
The quiz was resumed and without John’s presence I felt defeated,
I have to confess that (with use of good old Google) on at least one occasion I cheated.
It was somewhat a relief when the quiz came to an end,
My performance had been poor, there was nothing to commend.
“20 minutes until unhappy hour” Hunt and Darton declared,
“Unhappy hour, what’s this?” I admit it – I was scared.
I was told “the mood gets very sombre and you’re not allowed to laugh”,
At first I thought “forget this, get me out this caff”.
But as the clock struck 6.30pm I soon realised it was nothing malicious,
Hunt and Darton simply wanted to know “what has been your worst Christmas?”
As they walked around the café evoking stories of great sadness,
I couldn’t help but think “what on earth is all this madness”.
It was soon time for me to leave in my getaway car,
But truthfully I loved every second, no matter how strange, how bizarre.




Moving forward with the project, I have a few aims to keep me busy:

  • I will use the audio recordings, in the form of vox pops and soundbites, to produce an audio documentary which captures the atmosphere at the café.
  • I will create an ‘uncomic strip’, continuing the theme of ‘unhappy hour’, to document my ethnographic findings and the ‘characters’ I met.
  • I will be visiting Hunt & Darton café in Folkestone 9th-10 May to continue my ethnographic observations.

I look forward to working with creative methods to document the performativity of Hunt & Darton Café.

‘Community to me is’…Young People’s Musings on Community

Post by Catherine Wilkinson, ESRC NWDTC PhD student

KCC Live is a community youth-led radio station situated in Knowsley, just outside of Liverpool. The station targets listeners between the ages of 10-24 and has a cohort of volunteers aged 16 and upwards, assisting with roles such as presenting, programming and fundraising. The overarching aim of my doctoral research is to explore how KCC Live creates social capital among these young people in the current time of political, social and economic uncertainty. Within my project I draw on a range of creative qualitative methods, namely: participant observation; interviews and focus groups with young volunteers; interviews with key stakeholders; a listener survey and follow-up interviews; and listener diaries and follow-up interviews. Within my research I adopt a participatory approach.

As part of my research, I am particularly interested in understanding what ‘community’ means to the young people, and the different meanings they attach to the word. To this end, as part of my participatory methodology, the young people and I co-created an audio documentary. The documentary was participatory to the extent that: the young people highlighted key topics relating to community which they would like to discuss; the young people and I recorded discussions about community to be used as content; the young people provided me with advice as to how to edit the documentary; they chose the music and sound effects to be included; after a ‘first draft’ was complete, the young people were involved in snoops (listening sessions where critique and feedback is provided), which instructed me on how to improve the documentary.

In accordance with the desires of the young people, the documentary explores: what community means to them; the different community groups they are involved in; different scales of community, from geographic to virtual; the role of social media in the construction of community; whether they perceive community as positive or negative; the Scouse sense of community; and the community of KCC Live. The audio documentary is around 30 minutes in length and was played out on KCC Live during a show that I present. It is now available as a resource for young people to use as broadcasting content on the station whenever they desire. To listen to the documentary, please follow this link: https://soundcloud.com/catherinewilkinson

Beyond Greenspace in Merseyside

By Ben Wheeler, Becca Lovell and  Dr Karyn Morrissey

Originally posted on Beyond Greenspace

We recently had a great opportunity to spend a morning together with a wide range of people and organisations, mostly from the Merseyside area, at a workshop organised by the Heseltine Institute for Public Policy and Practice Fresh Thinking Series. At the event “Beyond Greenspace: How can nature create healthier and wealthier places” we collectively covered a lot of ground on the research, policy and practice angles in Liverpool city region and beyond.

We had the opportunity to discuss the Beyond Greenspace project, and related research at the European Centre, and then to consider issues such as the pioneering links between local NHS organisations and the fantastic Mersey Forest. There has clearly been a huge amount of innovative work in the area, such as the Natural Choices project and Mindfulness in Forests. It was encouraging to see excellent collaboration going on between organisations such as the Liverpool LNP (Nature Connected), the regional Academic Health Science Network and CLAHRC, and the Local Economic Partnership.

Much of the conversation flowed around to economics, with some passionate debate on how a region can protect its natural heritage and public green/blue space, improve public health and wellbeing, and generate jobs and economic opportunity within a highly restrictive financial climate (HLF’s ‘State of UK Parks‘ provides some useful information on some of the challenges facing UK greenspace managers).

Dr Karyn Morrissey of the University of Liverpool, Department of Geography and Planning was on hand to give an excellent perspective on the economics of natural resources. Karyn spoke about the economic valuation of our natural resources as a means of incorporating green and blue assets within the public and private agenda. Whilst, undoubtedly rudimentary (and perhaps crass), the manner in which economists monetise our environment is important to the maintenance of our greenspaces; “what gets measured gets managed”.