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School of Geography

Citizenship & Belonging

Mission: To understand the contemporary realities of social exclusion, reshape key international debates on citizenship and belonging, and explore the possibilities for more inclusive futures.

Our research spans five inter-related themes:

1. Social identities and difference

We have a commitment to understanding the construction and contestation of contemporary social identities, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class, age, religion, disability, national identity, and citizenship status. Our work has made important contributions to the conceptualisation of the intersection of multiple identities, and how people develop capacities to ‘live with difference’ in an era of rapid population, economic, and cultural change. We have a tradition of work that has made key contributions to understanding the geographical dimensions of childhood, youth, intergenerationality, and the life course.

2. Transnational society, diaspora and citizenship

Our research seeks to understand the experience of mobility for diverse migrant and immigrant populations, and the complexities of contemporary transnational communities. We have a substantial body of expertise on issues related to refugee and asylum seeker experiences, as well as on migration from Central and Eastern Europe. Our work has also had a major influence on developing an agenda for understanding the concept of ‘precarity’ in relation to the experiences of vulnerable migrant populations. A recent emphasis has been on understanding the transformation of transnational religious groups in the wake of debates over human sexuality and gender relations.

3. Citizenship, multiculturalism, and cosmopolitanism

Our research offers important contributions to highly politicised debates regarding national identity, belonging, community cohesion, and the living of “parallel lives”. We have recently explored the implications of neo-assimilationist policies of citizenship and belonging in Britain as they pertain to immigrant populations, and we have contributed theorisations of ‘everyday cosmopolitanisms’ and ‘cosmopolitan neighbourliness’.

4. Human rights, equalities, and legal geographies

We are interested in the construction and contestation of legal frameworks to promote equality and protect human rights, as well as the formation of legal subjectivities. This includes research on forced and unfree labour; the regulation of hate crime and hate speech; the impact of workplace policies on LGBT populations; and experiences of ‘illegality’ amongst urban squatters and other marginalised groups.

5. Innovative methodologies for understanding citizenship and belonging

We have made significant contributions to developing innovative methodologies in pursuit of the areas we identify above. This has included visual methods for understanding experiences of the city; narrative and life mapping methods for understanding life transitions; participatory video drama methods; and methods for capturing the ‘more than representational’ aspects of belonging.