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Research Themes & Activites

Research Themes

Providing a forum that brings together diverse research interests to create new and innovative research trajectories in human geography, the work of C-E-L presently coalesces around three key themes:

  • Corporeality, subjectivities and identities
    Research under this theme is concerned with the body, bodies and embodiment, the manufacture and lived experience of subjectivities in a range of spaces, and the politics and potential of competing imaginaries of identity.
  • Representation, memories and visualisations
    Here the work of C-E-L focuses on how the cultural and economic come to be represented and could become represented across different registers, whether through theories of development, practices of heritage and memorialisation, or techniques of visualisation. This includes developing and pioneering a range of qualitative methods, including the use of new visual methodologies and ethnographies.
  • Cultural economy, markets and materialities
    Under this theme, C-E-L is addressing the prospects and problems of cultural economy explanations, especially as they deepen understandings of markets and their materialities, and open-up economic practices in places and spaces within and beyond markets.


The research themes of C-E-L are taken forward through annual programmes of activities. The annual programme for 2013-14 will feature a number of activities, beginning with a workshop on ‘Changing Infrastructure Economies’ (October 2013). During 2012-13, C-E-L’s activities included the following:

Workshop: Locating Performance and the Political

Proposed by postgraduate researchers, a half-day workshop was held on 9th January, 2013. Preceded by reading group meetings in October, November and December 2012, the workshop focused on the politics of performativity and performance. Ismail Erturk (Manchester) addressed artist activism in the global financial crisis, and seven postgraduate research students from Durham Geography presented their work.

Distinguished International Visitor: Professor Geraldine Pratt (UBC)

In March 2013, C-E-L and the Politics-State-Space research cluster co-sponsored a visit by Professor Geraldine Pratt (UBC), through the Department’s Distinguished International Visitor scheme. During her stay with the Department, Professor Pratt discussed her monograph, Families Apart: Migrant Mothers and the Conflicts of Labor and Love (2012, University of Minnesota Press) as part of an author-meets-critics panel. Following an introduction by organizer Chris Harker, five ‘critics’ (Lynn Staeheli, Rachel Pain, Paul Harrison, Lizzie Richardson, Lucy Smout Szablewska) offered short commentaries on specific themes in the book. An audio recording of the seminar and written versions of the commentaries were subsequently published on

Professor Pratt also participated in a methods workshop with postgraduate students, and C-E-L supported a further extension of this through Creative Methodologies at the Empty Shop, Claypath, Durham (organized by Ruth Raynor). Bringing together Departmental staff and postgraduates with representatives from a number of community-facing arts organisations, this event provided a forum to practice, discuss and reflect on the significance of innovative and participatory methods for better attending to the routines and associations of everyday life. Professor Pratt and her collaborator Dr Caleb Johnston (Edinburgh) provided a summary talk which commented, in particular, on the event’s effective use of informal space, as well as a range of stimulating, engaging and innovative activities to support networking and open discussion.

Workshop: The Intimate Geopolitics of Violent Insecurities

Organised by Rachel Pain and Lynn Staeheli, this one-day workshop was held on 7th March 2013 and was co-sponsored with the Politics-State-Space research cluster. It featured presentations by Lorraine Dowler (Penn State) and Jo Sharp (Glasgow), and shorter research notes delivered by Kye Askins (Northumbria), Geraldine Pratt (UBC) and five members of staff from Durham Geography.