Political Worlds

Place, Power, Politics

Closeup of protesters at Ginowan protests by Nathan Keirn/Wikimedia CC2.0

Photo by Ian Klinke

The Political Worlds research cluster asks how politics and power are constituted in and across space and place. We seek to develop novel and critical understandings of the relationship(s) between geographical knowledges and regimes of discipline and violence.

Cluster members pursue theoretically informed research that tackles these questions through a range of scales, from the body to the global, and from the household to the nation-state. We draw on ethnographic fieldwork, visual methods, interviews, archival research and more in a range of different locations and routes. Our researchers work in Cameroon, Germany, India, Tanzania, the UK and elsewhere. While diverse, our work converges around four sets of questions.

1. Life, death and wellbeing in 20th and 21st century geographiesCritical engagements with being and nonbeing in place, over time. Current research projects challenge liberal approaches to peace and post-conflict in East Africa, offer new insights for understanding youth wellbeing in colonial India, and challenge dominant narratives of extraction in Central Africa.
2. Violence, nonviolence and discipliningHow does (non)violence emerge in, over and through space and time? How do we make sense of the changing relationships between people, territory and displacement in a techno-capitalist, colonial, gendered and militarist present? Current research projects examine norms of governance at geopolitical margins, and relationships between global capitalism and international humanitarianism in East Africa.
3. Politics, power and geopoliticsHow is territorial sovereignty enacted and resisted? How do political worlds come to matter through bodily performance, language, technology and the built environment? How do subaltern geopolitics and politics at the margin challenge Eurocentric frames and offer alternatives? Current work in the cluster looks at histories of squatting in Europe and North America, geographies of dissent in Central Africa, the visual mediation of urban spaces, and material landscapes of the Cold War.
4. Geographical knowledgesWhat are the political and social patterns and practices through which geographical knowledge is produced, created, consumed and circulated? What ‘counts’ as geographical knowledge and who gets to speak for Geography? What are the politics of studying particular world regions? How are politically charged knowledge claims made in a digital world? How do we contribute to the project to decolonise geographical knowledges? Ongoing work in the cluster asks ethical questions about building digital archives using materials from colonial contexts, how non-Western epistemologies might be used to challenge the coloniality of knowledge production in Geography, and political discourse emerges from geopolitical margins.


South Asia from Afar: Conversations on Research in the Region

Online Seminar Series

This series seeks to draw attention to the complex power dynamics at play in studying the South Asian region in this moment, when the COVID-19 Pandemic and ongoing struggles against increasingly right-wing states in the region have all complicated the terms on which research can be done. The title 'South Asia from Afar' references the panic that overtook the many institutions for South Asian Studies research in Europe, the UK and North America where a significant part of the research on this region is done, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However the Pandemic has also made distances within South Asia larger as scholars increasingly rely on remote modes of research instead of in-person fieldwork in this moment. Address this convergence of many crisis points, we ask our speakers to consider how research on the region might be reimagined. The series is co-organised by Sneha Krishnan and Nayanika Mathur.

Co-sponsored by the Contemporary South Asian Studies Programme.

Digitising Critical Pedagogies Amidst COVID-19

An Online Roundtable Discussion

6 May 2020, 15:00-16:30 BST

The global pandemic of COVID-19 has exposed vulnerabilities in our in-person teaching models and pressed us to quickly move content online. Yet, thoughtful efforts must be made to ensure that rapid digitisations do not reify long-standing educational and knowledge inequalities. In this webinar, we consider how scholars are engaging with critical pedagogies, including anti-racist and anti-imperialist approaches, in the time of COVID-19. Panellists joining the discussion:

  • Derek Ford (Education, DePauw)
  • Holly Oberle (Political Science, Wenzhou-Kean University)
  • Farhana Sultana (Geography, Syracuse)
  • Sayan Dey (English, Royal University of Bhutan)
  • Lesley Nelson-Addy (Education, Oxford)

The event is co-organised by Dr Amber Murrey, Associate Professor of Human Geography at Oxford ( and Dr Steven Puttick, Associate Professor of Education at Oxford ( To register, please contact Amber.

  • Geographies of Resistance

    One-day workshop in Trinity term 2020 (TBA). Details forthcoming.

Political Worlds is co-coordinated by Dr Sneha Krishnan and Dr Amber Murrey. For questions and enquiries, please contact the postgraduate secretary Britain Hopkins at

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Athena SWAN Bronze Award
HR Excellence in Research