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School of Geography

Paul Chatterton Prof Paul Chatterton

Contact details

Room 10.104 Manton
School of Geography
University of Leeds
University Road
Leeds LS2 9JT   UK


+44 (0) 113 34 36636

Student hours:
Tues 11am - 12pm

Research overview

My work is based on my central inter-related interests of cities and future-oriented social change, and an approach based on highly engaged participatory methods and scholar-activism. My work is heavily collaborative and socially oriented in nature and is focused on four interconnected areas.

a)     Critical approaches to urban development, regeneration and governance

Stemming from my original work for my Ph.D. in 1998, I have developed conceptual and applied research in the area of critical urban development, regeneration and governance spanning fifteen years. This work has focused on understanding the socio-spatial dimensions of the processes of urban change, especially through detailed studies of urban and youth-based social movements.

b)     Autonomous geographies and post-capitalist politics

Over the last ten years, I have developed international reputation and impact is in the study of political activism and social movements, with a focus on exploring the constituent elements of life beyond capitalism. I have helped advance understandings and opened up a new area for study in what I call ‘autonomous geographies’, spaces where there is a desire to constitute non-capitalist, collective forms of politics, identity and citizenship. My research has challenged simple geographical understandings of activism as either place-bound or rootless and has established how political contention is established through interstitial (in between) everyday places and identities.

c)      Post-carbon cities, low impact living and transformational urban futures

The third and most recent area of work focuses on opening up new areas of future-orientated debates around the idea of post-carbon cities - an enquiry about the nature of cities beyond the age of oil dependency and novel and disruptive forms of sustainability and low impact living, drawing upon concepts of the commons, experimentation and climate justice.

d)     Participatory geographies and scholar-activism

Finally, I have helped pioneer methodological work in participatory geographies and scholar-activism which underpin all the above three areas. My research activity has always had a strong collaborative element, and I have developed a reputation as an inter-disciplinary scholar-activist with an international impact in work grounded in participatory, action-oriented methods. My work employs normative (looking at how the world ought, or should be) and critical political-economy approaches (exploring the political-institutional and economic mechanisms through which urban social change occurs). The intellectual rationale for this work is that geographic knowledge should have benefits for those affected by social, economic and environmental issues; that groups outside the academy have meaningful contributions to make to the coproduction of agendas, project design, analysis, interpretation and writing research outputs; and to develop more sustained forms of engagement and dissemination to policy communities outside the academy.

PhD Supervision

I welcome PhD application in the following areas: 

  • Urban sustainability with a focus on eco-housing, cohousing and ecovillages
  • Popular and radical education
  • Grassroots activism and campaigning
  • Social Movements in the UK and beyond with a particular interest in autonomy and anarchism
  • Alternatives to neoliberal urban regeneration discourses and practices
  • Ethical consumerism, fair trade, co-operativism.

Research students

  1. Alison Hargreaves. 2014-present. Sustainable futures? A study of cohousing and community. Leeds University Anniversary Research scholarship.
  2. Rachel Huxley. 2014-present. The policy, practice and dilemmas of sustainable cities. ESRC scholarship.
  3. Agnieszka Labonarska. 2013-present. Urban Commons and Food Justice. ESRC scholarship
  4. Mattheus Grandi Visiting Ph.D. student 2013. Grassroots urban movements in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian government scholarship.
  5. Neizhe Basak Ergin. Visiting Ph.D. student 2012. Social Movements in/for Istanbul. Turkish government scholarship.
  6. Stella Darby. 2012-present. Community empowerment and social policy: Case study research at the urban grassroots. ESRC scholarship.
  7. Dylan Young. 2012-present. Carbon, communities and contestation. The case of upland peak management in the UK. NERC/ESRC joint scholarship.
  8. Marie-Avril Berthet Meylan (part time) 2012 - present. Nightlife as a creative time-space. Negotiating the transition towards the night time economy in Geneva, Switzerland. Self-funded.
  9. Federico Venturini 2012-present. Cities and Grassroots Urban Initiatives: a Social Ecology Approach. Self-funded Ph.D.
  10. Victoria Habermehl. 2011-present. In against and beyond: Mercado Bonpland as embodiment of the antagonism of the creation of alternatives in the everyday.
  11. Bert Russell. 2008-2012. Politicising the Climate: Knowledge, Power and Resistance in the Movements for Climate Justice. ESRC scholarship.
  12. Andre Pusey. 2008-2014. The really Open University: creating commons, cracks and new values in and against academic capitalism. Akroyd, Brotherton and Brown Scholarship.
  13. Nalini Mohabir. 2008-2012. The Last Return Indenture/Ship from Guyana to India: Diaspora, Decolonization and Douglarized Spaces. Canadian Research Council scholarship.
  14. Farai Maghuhna. 2003-2008. Remittance Strategies of Zimbabweans in Leeds and Luton. ESRC scholarship.


Reclaiming the Good City [PDF FILE]