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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Dr Noam Leshem

Associate Professor in the Department of Geography
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41911
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 41801
Room number: 230

Contact Dr Noam Leshem (email at

Much of my research and writing is concerned with the intersection of spatial politics and cultural history. My work is motivated by a search for moments of possibility and potential, for practices and imaginations that call into question taken for granted power structures. Before joining the Department of Geography in September 2013, I held academic posts at Royal Holloway and Birkbeck, both at the University of London.

During my PhD research I undertook at the London Consortium, I explored the transformation of depopulated Arab space in Tel Aviv’s periphery. This work is the basis of an upcoming monograph titled “Taking Place: Arab place, Jewish space and Israel's forgotten urban histories”. This work seeks a new approach to the history and politics of Israeli space, place and landscape. Breaking from conventional focus on explicit sites of violence and devastation, it turns critical attention to ‘ordinary’ spaces and places where the Arab past continues to unsettle the social and political realities of the Jewish-Israeli present. Through the stories of often-overlooked places and the people who inhabit them, the book develops a critical notion of Spatial History – a nuanced multidisciplinary approach to the study of space, memory and power.

Some initial of the work’s motivations and concerns a paper published in Environment and Planning D in 2013, and a shorter book chapter in the edited volume Urban Constellations. Additional publication on the politics of memory in Israel and Palestinian spatial activism further expand this project.

I currently lead a large research programme titled Re-Inhabiting No-Man’s Land. On the centenery of WWI, this project rethinks no-man’s lands as a concept and as concrete space, explores their intellectual genealogies and critical significance for questions of governance and political agency. My investigation of no-man’s lands trawls less-obvious archives, from 2nd century Jewish political theology to audio records of migrant workers held for ransom in the Sinai Peninsula.

As part of this, I am currently carrying out pilot research funded by the Council for British Research in the Levant, which explores both historical and contemporary no-man’s land in Cyprus and Israel-Palestine. Some of this work is documented at the project’s webpage

Research Groups

Research Interests

  • Cultural and Political History
  • Histories, genealogies and practices of no-man's lands
  • Political activism and emancipatory practices
  • Political theology and religious spatial politics

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2018: Editorial Board Member, Political Geography:
  • 2015: Board Member, Royal Geographical Society Political Geography Research Group:

Selected Publications

Journal Article

Authored book

Chapter in book

Book review

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • Leshem, Noam Leshem, Noam Beyond the Wall: Writing Conflict and History in Jerusalem. 2012. 2012.

Show all publications

Selected Grants

  • 2014: Re-inhabiting No-Man's Land (£3640.00 from CBRL)