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.

The cluster links research on relationships between geographical knowledges and regimes of power, geographies of the South, and postcolonial, feminist, decolonial and anti-racist work. 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.

You can explore Danny Dorling's work on spacial inequalities here.

Upcoming Events

Political Worlds Webinar

Labour, Efficiency, Critique: Writing the plantation into the present-future

28 October 2022 at 15:00 London | Zoom webinar

Dr Stefan Ouma, Chair of Economic Geography, University of Bayreuth, Germany

Discussant: Dr Alex Moulton, Department of Sociology & Geography, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, US.

Booking url:

This talk is based upon collaborative work with Dr Saumya Premchander. We call upon critical labour scholars, including labour geographers, to feature what sociologist Palmer that the push for efficiency, as made possible by digital technology, needs to be analysed in terms of its historical lineage as well as in terms of its geographical scope. Centreing efficiency in critical labour studies, necessitates three scholarly moves. These are particularly relevant for labour geography, a field that has so far tended to circumvent questions of coloniality/labour, digital Taylorism, and the politics of (re-)writing economic geographies, in by-passing the literatures that deal with them.

The plantation, an analytical category and ontic reality that stretches across several yet often unconnected bodies of literature - literary studies, Black Geographies, Caribbean studies, and the Black Radical Tradition, as well as in Global History - is central to our effort.

Writing the plantation into the technological present-future can be the starting point for a larger and historico- geographically informed critique, in economic geography and beyond, of efficiency - a mode of thinking-cum-praxis based on input-output calculations, objectifying practices, violent value extraction and the removal of undesired 'social frictions' for the sake of capital accumulation.

Reading Group

Indigenous Epistemologies Reading Group

The Indigenous Epistemologies Reading Group brings together researchers and students from across the University departments interested in engaging with indigenous perspectives and epistemologies in their work and research. This reading group is a weekly gathering in which we critically explore the mechanisms and methods of knowledge production that we engage in our own research through the lens of indigenous methods of world-knowing and world-making. We share and discuss indigenous scholarship, its intersection with the "Western" academy, national politics, and corporate interests. We explore questions of sovereignty, epistemic oppression, relational worldviews and performative knowledge-making.

Interested in joining the reading group? Please contact:

Past Events

Screening of Film on Decolonising Research Methodologies, "Keeping the Fire"

12:45 - 13:55 GMT, 26 May 2022

Department of Education, University of Oxford Co-sponsored with Political Worlds Research Cluster, SoGE, Oxford

We are pleased to announce the release of a 30-minute film based on a postgraduate course they collaboratively taught in Trinity Term 2021. The film is titled, "Keeping the Fire: Oxford-UNISA Decolonising Research Methodologies".

The trailer for the film is available on SoGE's YouTube Channel.

Description of film:
  • The film follows the experience of educators and students over a 7-week period, when they came together during a postgraduate online course, Decolonising Research Methodologies. The experimental course was co-taught by Dr Amber Murrey (Geography, Oxford), Dr Steve Puttick (Education, Oxford) and Dr Nokuthula Hlabangane (Anthropology, UNISA).
  • Educators sought to foster an interactive and collaborative digital space to build, challenge, and practice ways of knowing offered by the rich scholarship on decolonising research methods in the social sciences. Recognising the significance of trust within collectives thinking against coloniality and colonial violence, guided and immersive sessions helped the group work towards the creation of a different kind of digital classroom. Educators emphasised the importance of the cultivation of collective commitments, including our shared responsibility to 'keep the fire', as encouraged by Mmatshilo Motsei, during the healing circle she facilitated during the course. Community leaders and scholar-activists facilitated interactive, embodied, and decolonising pedagogies. Oxford Geography Professors Patricia Daley and Sneha Krishnan lead discussions on the violence of discovery in Western science and understanding the coloniality of methods.
  • The course was funded by an Oxford's Teaching Development & Enhancement Project Award.

This is a hybrid event.

In-person attendance: Seminar B (Department of Education, 15 Norham Gardens), Department of Education, University of Oxford Co-sponsored with Political Worlds Research Cluster, SoGE, Oxford.

On-line attendance: To join through Teams, please contact Dr Steve Puttick at

For further information, please contact Dr Amber Murrey at

Political Worlds and Economy & Society Writing Retreat

12 May (9am to 5pm) at Mansfield College.

  • Academic staff and postgraduate students came together for a productive and enjoyable writing retreat at Mansfield College on 12 May. The day-long event included intensive writing sessions, time for networking/debriefing, and tools for structuring effective and efficient academic writing. The event was co-organised by the Political Worlds and Economy & Society Research Clusters.

War in Ukraine: A Political Geography Roundtable Discussion

6 May 2022, 15:00 - 16:30

This was a hybrid event; our in-person location was the Lecture Theatre of the Dyson Perrins / School of Geography and the Environment Building.

  • Rationalising the irrational? Grappling with the Russo-Ukrainian War, Phase One (20 February 2014 - 23 February 2022), Dr Vlad Mykhnenko

    Since the early 2014, many human geographers and social scientists at-large have been grappling with the causes and consequences of the Russian de facto annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and the subsequent war in the Ukrainian Donbas. What have we learnt over the past eight years, what we should try to remember, and what baggage we can now leave behind?

  • Reflections from a Political Geographer on Why 'We' Got it Wrong, Professor Judith Pallot

    Why did the academic community and political commentators miss the signs of the invasion of Ukraine? Professor Judith Pallot will reflect on the devastating impacts on Russian and East European Area Studies (including the discipline of geography in the region, and intellectual freedom, more generally) if the Russian aggression succeeds.

  • On the politics of historicising the war in Ukraine. Dr Ian Klinke

    Unlike what some political realists, the far-right, the pro-Assad left [or just some commentators??] and the Kremlin itself would like us to believe, the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine was not provoked by the West. But to what extent can the steady deterioration of three decades of NATO-Russia relations help us understand how we ended up where we are? I will reflect on this highly politicised question by shedding some light on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's geopolitical culture.

Criminal Repair and Postcolonial Sovereignty in the Jamaican Lotto Scam

Feb 18, 2022 02:39 PM London

Dr Jovan Scott Lewis, University of California, Berkeley

Histories of Geography in Africa: South African geographers and apartheid in the 1970s and 1980s

3pm, 14 May 2021

Dr Ruth Craggs, Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Historical Geography, King's College London

Racial capitalism and care under COVID

Friday, 5 March 2021

Dr Patricia Lopez, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Dartmouth College

Tourism Troubles: Feminist political ecologies of land and body in the making of residential tourism space in Panama

Friday, 19 February 2021

Dr Sharlene Mollett, Associate Professor, Human Geography and International Development Studies, University of Toronto

Discussant: Dr Negar Behzadi, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol

Further details:

(Anti)Blackness and Dual Power: Thinking from Durban, South Africa

Friday, January 22 2021

Dr Yousuf Al-Bulushi, Assistant Professor, Department of Global and International Studies, University of California, Irvine

Discussant: Dr Adam Elliott-Cooper, University of Greenwich

Covid-19 & mobilities in understanding the lived reality and framing of diasporic Blackness

All School Seminar, Friday, 21 January 2021

Dr Lioba Hirsch, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Decolonial Queering Aesthesis: Unsettling Spaces of Zionist Sensuality

Friday, 5 February 2020

Dr Walaa Alqaisiya, LSE Fellow of Gender, Conflict and Sexuality, Department for Gender Studies, London School of Economics

Discussant: Hashem Abushama, DPhil Candidate, School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford

Book Panel: 'Intimate Geopolitics: Love, Territory, and the Future on India's Northern Threshold' by Sara Smith (Rutgers University Press, 2020)

Book Panel, 7 September 2020

In Intimate Geopolitics: Love, Territory, and the Future on India's Northern Threshold' (Rutgers University Press, 2020), Sara Smith asks how love and marriage are bound up with global and regional geopolitical processes that make territory. Focusing on Ladakh, a region located on India's Northern frontier, the book asks how territory is made every day in marriage and birth ceremonies, in the kitchen, in the rearing of babies, and in everyday experiences of childhood, youth and religious life. Organised by Sneha Krishnan.

South Asia from Afar: Conversations on Research in the Region

Online Seminar Series, June - September 2020

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.

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

News and Research Highlights

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06/10/22 6 October 2022 -
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