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Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Wolfson Fellow

Professor Rachel Pain

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41876
Professor in the Department of Geography
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 41801
Room number: 407

Contact Professor Rachel Pain (email at


Born in Northumberland and brought up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, I have lived in the North East for most of my life. I completed my first degree in geography at Lancaster University and PhD at the University of Edinburgh, then worked as a Lecturer in Geography at Northumbria University before moving to Durham in 2000. Here, I teach at undergraduate level, supervise PhD students, and serve as Director of Education for the Geography programmes, and Co-Director of the Centre for Social Justice and Community Action.

I'm a social geographer whose research is informed by feminist and participatory theory and practice. I work on a range of issues around fear, violence and community safety; emotions and geopolitics; and participatory practice, politics, theory and activism.

My research, teaching and public engagement activities are underpinned by a commitment to social justice. Recently I've worked on a number of participatory action research projects in the North East, with partners including refugee-led organisations, youth groups, Rivers Trusts and survivors of violence. 

As well as locating my own research and some training and teaching locally outside the University, I am involved in a number of initiatives to encourage two-way research collaborations, including the Centre for Social Justice and Community Action which develops and supports theory and practice around participatory action research at local, national and international levels.

I'm also interested in the challenges that the idea of work life balance presents for academic business and cultures, and in supporting fairer institutional policies and practices for fractional, flexible and non-traditional workers.

Rachel with participants at a PAR training event, May 2012.

Prizes and Awards

Philip Leverhulme Prize 2005.

Royal Geographical Society Gill Memorial Award 2008, for contributions to social geography and participatory research.

2009 Julian Minghi Outstanding Research Award of the Political Speciality Group of the Association of American Geographers. Awarded jointly with Susan J Smith for 'Fear: Critical Geopolitics and Everyday Life'.

2012 Durham University Excellence in Learning and Teaching Award

2014 Durham University Excellence in Research Impact Award

Report: Everyday Terrorism

Everyday Terrorism: How Fear Works in Domestic Abuse contains the findings of a research project conducted in 2012 in collaboration with Scottish Women's Aid.

Research Groups

Department of Geography

School of Applied Social Sciences

Research Projects

Department of Geography

  • Everyday Terrorism: How Fear Works in Domestic Abuse

Research Interests

  • Fear, violence and community safety
  • Emotions and geopolitics
  • Domestic violence and terrorism
  • The wellbeing and safekeeping of young refugees
  • Gender, youth, old age and intergenerational relations
  • Participatory practice, politics and theory

Teaching Areas

  • Participation, People and Place (Level 3 with community research placements)

  • Training in participatory action research (open to community and university: see

  • Fundamentals of Risk Research (MSc)
  • Geographical Imaginations (MA/PhD)
  • Geography, Gender and Change (Level 3)
  • Social and Cultural Geography (Level 2)

Selected Publications

Books: edited

Books: reviews

Books: sections

Journal papers: academic

Other publications: research

  • Pain, R., Whitman, G., Milledge, D. & Lune Rivers Trust (2012). Participatory Action Research Toolkit: an introduction to using PAR as an approach to learning, research and action. Durham University.
  • Durham Community Research Team. (2011). Community-based Participatory Research: Ethical Challenges Centre for Social Justice and Community Action, Durham University.
  • Pain, R. & Hopkins, P. (2009). Common ground: a space of emotional wellbeing? Report to East Area Asylum Seekers Support Group. Durham University.
  • Curtis, S., Daya, S., Khatib, Y., Pain, R., Rothon, C. & Stansfeld, S. (2009). Mapping links between young people, neighbourhoods, schools and families, with respect to adolescent mental health. Final review report to the Nuffield Foundation. Durham University.
  • Pain, R, Askins, K & Kitoko, G (2007). Connecting places, connected lives: an anti-bullying art project. Durham University.
  • Pain, R (2005). Intergenerational relations and practice in the development of sustainable communities: Report to Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Durham University.

Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Crime: Violence and fear

Selected Grants

  • 2013: Engaging with communities: Arts and performance-based collaborative training (£2434.00 from Arts and Humanities Research Council)
  • 2012: Connection, Participation and Empowerment in Community-Based Research: The Case of the Transition Movement (£22922.57 from Arts and Humanities Research Council)
  • 2011: Community-based Participatory Research: Ethics and Outcomes (£391.15 from Arts and Humanities Research Council)
  • 2011: Everday Terrorism: Domestic Violence and the Politics of Fear (£5878.00 from The British Academy)
  • 2010: Building adoptive strategies for environmental change for rural land managers (£153120.48 from ESRC)
  • 2010: Contact Zones: The Musuem as a space of encounter (£6000.00 from Tyne & Wear Museums)
  • 2009: Discovery Re-Visioning: Research, Analysis & Reporting for Stakeholder Group 1 (£28131.16 from Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums)
  • 2009: Marginalised Spiritualities Faith and Religion (£8301.00 from Arts & Humanities Research Board)
  • 2007: RELATIONAL RELIGIOUS IDENTITIES (£2452.00 from Arts and Humanities Research Council)
  • 2006: INTERNATIONAL GEOGRAPHICAL UNION (£800.00 from The British Academy)
  • 2006: PHILIP LEVERHULME PRIZE (£50000.00 from The Leverhulme Trust)
  • 2006: PLACING FEAR AND HOPE (£6696.00 from The British Academy)
  • 2004: LIFEMAPPING: YOUNG PEOPLE'S ROUTES (£8253.37 from Durham County Council)
  • 2001: CONSULTATION WITH HARD TO REACH YOUNG PEOPLE (£10953.00 from Co Durham Youth Offending Service)
  • 2001: HOMELESSNESS TEMPORARY ACCOMMODATION RESEARCH (£500.00 from Sustainable Cities Research Institute)
  • 2001: NEW MOTHERS' EXPERIENCES OF BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT (£18320.00 from NHS Regional Office - Northern & Yorkshire)
  • 2001: NEWCASTLE CITY COUNCIL CRIME AND DISORDER AUDIT (£750.00 from Sustainable Cities Research Institute)
  • 2001: PARC (£11023.00 from Sunderland Youth Offending Service)