Lecturer in Sociology and Co-Director of CURB, the Centre for Urban Research, University of York

My current work spans four different areas.

First, I am interested in the intersection of architecture, embodiment and health, and I am working currently on a funded project in collaboration with Maggie’s, an organisation known for commissioning architecturally innovative buildings in which support and advice is offered to those diagnosed with cancer, their families and friends. This ongoing project utilises a mixture of methodological approaches, combining staff interviews and focus groups with centre visitors and volunteers across their Centres, with plans and funding in place to extend the project in 2014 to include international sites.

Second, I have been writing recently on the topic of new urban ruins. I am editor of a forthcoming special issue of IJURR which gathers together photo-essays from an international and interdisciplinary range of social geographers, urban sociologists, cultural historians, architectural journalists and photographers. Their pieces cover a variety of locations, including the demolition of residential districts of central Shanghai, the architectural relics of post-Soviet states in Eastern Europe, and the construction of semi-vacant ‘ghost estates’ in Ireland.

Third, I have been developing my long-standing research interests in the social significance of exurban sites on the edges of major cities. I am working with David Hill, a moral philosopher at the University of Liverpool, to analyse these new spaces through debates usually associated with the traditional urban form - specifically the idea of the ‘good city’. In essence, we argue for an ethical interpretation of exurban environments and an understanding of civility as a form of ethical sociality that is embedded in quotidian social practices, and the ordinary places in which they are enacted.

Fourth, I remain interested in the role that literature and literary theory might play in helping us to understand the social, and our sense of place. As first outlined in my article ‘A Poetic Urbanism’ and in work I am currently developing, I advance the argument that lyrical approaches can be helpful in recalibrating our understanding of contemporary processes of urbanization, as well as historical patterns of globalization.

Experience

  • –present
    Lecturer in Sociology, University of York