From 2007 to 2014 I worked as a research fellow at the Open University. Before that I taught at Yale University (cultural geography and gender studies) and the University of Greenwich (cultural geography). I previously worked as a journalist, editor and photographer and have experience of working in what used to be called the voluntary sector as an environmental design researcher.
Over the past twenty five years I have been one of a small number of scholar-activists pioneering the study of race and culture in contemporary Britain, beginning with the publication of my pamphlet on women and the National Front in 1978. I established an international reputation for research on race and gender in 1992 when my first academic book Beyond the Pale was published. My intervention in feminist theory and practice, in particular my focus on the discursive production of whiteness through a gendered reading of colonial history, was instrumental in shaping a new international field of study which has since become known as Critical Whiteness Studies. In 1998 I received a PhD for this body of work from the University of Cambridge (SPS).
My current research (2008-) takes my lifelong interest in racism, citizenship, belonging and national identity discourse into an exploration of militarisation and, in particular, the changing position of military institutions in UK society as a result of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have completed a study of racism and diversity in the British Army, exploring the interface between civil and military spheres within the last decade. This was an ethnographic project which took the recruitment of Commonwealth soldiers as an entry point, using interviews and observation as the basis for prizing military organisational culture open for greater public scrutiny.
I have pursued lifelong interests in questions of racism and gender, whiteness, British national identity, feminism and the far right continue to animate my writing and research, frequently in dialogue with colleagues outside the UK. My work falls broadly within four overlapping areas:
- Racism, historical memories of colonialism, multiculturalism, national identity
War and militarisation
- Gender relations and feminism in the Muslim-majority world
- Geographies of life-writing, landscape, place, social ecology, urban/rural divide, Englishness
My most recent book investigates the recruitment of Britain's Commonwealth soldiers and the British Army's attempts to deal with equality and diversity issues. (http:/militarymigrants.org) My current research is concerned with the changing place of military institutions in UK society, and the impact of war on everyday life. I am also involved in collaborations with colleagues in Sweden, France, Germany and Italy.