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Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Dr Sydney Calkin

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Geography
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 41801

Contact Dr Sydney Calkin (email at


My work falls under a few disciplinary headings including Feminist Political Economy, Gender and Development, and Feminist International Relations. In short, I am interested in feminist politics and I study this topic in a few different ways. I am currently working on two projects:

The first is a book called Human Capital in Gender and Development, forthcoming with Routledge in early 2018. This argues that human capital theory has been fundamental in shaping the field of Gender and Development today, particularly in constituting the ‘Gender Equality as Smart Economics’ agenda. The book introduces a feminist Foucauldian critique of human capital to demonstrate its conceptual and material effects on development governance. Empirically, the book focuses on the World Bank’s gender agenda and private sector partnerships in the field of Gender and Development, including the Nike Foundation and the Girl Effect. This book will be of interest to scholars, students and practitioners of feminist political economy and development studies.  

The second project, supported by a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (2017-2020) explores the changing geographies of abortion access. All across the world, states and localities impose severe restrictions on access to contraception and abortion, and inflict harsh punishments on women who attempt to exercise their reproductive rights. New medical technologies, technological advances, and political transformations have changed the ways that women access abortion across borders. Abortion access is increasingly de-coupled from the laws of the nation-state. However, in response to challenges to state authority over reproduction, states are adopting new tactics to surveil and control pregnancy in order to restrict abortion access. This project addresses the political geographical dimensions of these issues, related to political borders, border technologies, and trans-border activism. More broadly, I am interested in the topic of reproduction as it sits at the intersection of contradictory political and development agendas: pro- and anti-natalist policies that encourage or discourage births come into conflict when they are refracted through racialized and gendered inequalities, as well as North-South inequalities. 

Outside of these projects, I am interested in anti-racist pedagogies in higher education and efforts to de-colonize the curriculum. Previously, I have also published research on post-colonial approaches to tourism and volunteer ‘gap year’ tourism. My writing has recently appeared in New Formations, Third World Quarterly, and Progress in Development Studies.


In AY 2017-2018, I convene Level 4 Changing Geographies of Development and supervise undergraduate and PhD students. I do not have set office hours, but please feel free to email me to set up a meeting. 


Journal Article

Authored book

Chapter in book