Dr Ben Gowland

Departmental Lecturer in Human Geography

Academic Profile

Prior to starting as a Departmental Lecturer at SoGE in April 2023, Ben (he/him) worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the Leverhulme Trust funded project 'Trade unions and spaces of democratisation in Britain, the Caribbean and Greece'. He did this whilst based in the School of Geographical & Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow. He is also associated with Brasenose College.

Ben completed his PhD in Human Geography at the University of Glasgow in the Summer of 2021, his thesis was titled: The decolonial spatial politics of West Indian black power: praxis, theory and transnational exchange. His thesis examined the spatial politics of the West Indian Black Power movement analysing how a Black Power politics represented a more radical post-colonial project to that of mainstream West Indian nationalisms and neo-colonial imperialisms articulated in the region. Ben's research drew out the transnational relations and circuits of solidarity and knowledge exchange that constituted the Black Power movement in the West Indies and its connections to anti-colonial and anti-imperialist movements of the '68 moment'. Lastly, a key focus of the thesis was an examination of the transnational geographies of repression deployed against Black Power groups and actors with the (neo)colonial British state a central actor here.

Ben holds a BSc and MRes in Geography and Human Geography from the University of Glasgow.

Current Research

Ben is a Human Geographer specialising in Political Geography. His current research interests are generally focused on studies of alternative political settlements/visions largely articulated 'from below' during the Cold War period and with a general focus on the Global South during this time.

As demonstrated in his PhD thesis and role as a research assistant Ben has an interest in the multiple and contested geographies of decolonisation and post-colonial state formation during the mid-twentieth century. In particular, Ben is interested in visions of the post-colonial state or nationhood that sought to contests the hegemonic geopolitical 'camps' of the Cold War and which articulated alternative spatial-political visions of international relations and global economics. His work here has a consistent focus on geographies of anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism and anti-racism. These political commitments understood through broader histories and geographies of Black Internationalism and opposition to imperialist global projects of white supremacy enacted by Euro-American powers. Ben's work here is indebted to the struggles and thought of Black and non-White scholars and political figures and in his studies and teaching he is committed to foregrounding the political and theoretical contributions and importance of such figures.

Ben's recent work as a Postdoctoral Research Associate has engaged with geographies of labour and trade unionism again with a focus on the Caribbean during the mid-twentieth century. Ben is interested in explicitly politicised studies of Labour Geography and through his recent research has foregrounded the link between trade unions and the politics of democracy. Alongside his former colleagues Dr David Featherstone (University of Glasgow) and Dr Lazaros Karaliotas (University of Glasgow) Ben has engaged with the spatial practices through which trade unions sought to expand and entrench democratic politics and challenge practices of authoritarianism. A key focus of Ben's research interest on this topic is the geographies of labour internationalism. Both in studying how trade unions from across the world enact geographies of solidarity to entrench and protect worker's rights and to examine how trade unions and labour politics can operate as a means for forming broader social and political alliances for transformative change from below. Ben is currently writing a co-authored monograph with Dr Featherstone and Dr Karaliotas, Space, Democratic Politics and Agency: Trade Unions and Democratisation from Below in Britain, the Caribbean and Greece, 1960-1982, which develops these themes.

Ben's Political Geographical research has a focus on the period of the Cold War and he is interested more broadly in the historical geographies and geopolitics of that time period. Here he has a particular focus on popular social and political movements in the Global South whose histories and accounts are often missing from dominant conceptions of the period and conflict. In particular he is taken with a reading of the conflict, as drawn out by Adom Getachew (2019) in Worldmaking after Empire, which sees the period as one of competing worldmaking visions beyond just the two camps of Capitalist West and Communist East. His studies of Black Power and trade unions in the Caribbean can be understood in this context. Ben is currently interested in researching the role of the British State and Foreign Office in seeking to repress and shutdown more radical worldmaking visions enacted during this period in the decolonising British Empire.

Selected Publications

Gowland, B., Featherstone, D. and Karaliotas, L. (2023) Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 114(1), pp. 21–38.
1495067 - Labor, democracy, and the postcolonial state: spac...
Gowland, B. (2023) Socialist History, 2022(62), pp. 63–84.
Gowland, B. (2023) Geography Compass, 17(3).
1495065 - Thinking problem-space in studies of revolt and ar...
Gowland, B. (2022) Antipode, 55(1), pp. 113–133.
1495066 - The Abeng?s call: the articulation of place and th...
Gowland, B. (2022) Race & Class, 64(2), pp. 20–37.
1495061 - Britain and the repression of Black Power in the 1...
Gowland, B. (2021) Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 46(4), pp. 866–881.
1495063 - Narratives of resistance and decolonial futures in...
Gowland, B. (2020) RACE & CLASS, 61(4), pp. 105–107.
Dr Ben Gowland