Academic Profile

Liam Saddington is an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Liam completed his DPhil in Geography and the Environment at the School in 2021, with his thesis "Rising Seas and Sinking Island: The Geopolitics of Climate Change in Tuvalu and Kiribati".

Liam first entered the department to read for a BA in Geography in 2013, before completing his MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance in 2017. In 2018 and 2019, Liam was a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of the South Pacific.

Current Research

Liam is a political and environmental geographer whose research focuses on the geopolitics of climate change concerning small island states and rising sea levels. His work explores how the relationship between territory and statehood is being reimagined in low-lying atolls in light of rising sea levels. It examines how space and time shape understandings of climate change and the implications for critical geopolitics, adaptation, and diplomacy.

Liam is interested in how different forms of knowledge are mobilised in controversies over the futures of atoll states. Specifically, he is interested in how vertical geopolitics and geographies of the ocean intersect in the construction of atoll states as "sinking islands" and resistance to this term. His research focuses on the small island states of Tuvalu and Kiribati in the South Pacific.

Liam’s ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship is entitled “Prefiguring the Future: Climate Adaptation and Youth Diplomacy in Tuvalu”. Building on his doctoral research, this project has two focuses. Firstly, on the role that land reclamation plays in climate change adaptation in low-lying atoll states and its broader geopolitics. Secondly, the role of youth and youthful bodies within Tuvaluan climate diplomacy.

Since 2016, Liam has worked with Fiona McConnell on developing ‘Model UNPO’ teaching resources for primary and secondary schools. Supported by a University of Oxford’s Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund Award, they are currently adapting the materials for work with diasporic communities. As part of this project, Liam has been part of the preparatory team organising a weeklong session at the Council of Europe entitled “Unrepresented Diplomats: A Study Session for European Minority Youth on Shrinking Civic Space, Political Participation and Freedom of Association.”


Undergraduate: Liam also holds a Career Development Lecturer at Jesus College. He teaches across a range of human and environmental geography papers and supervises undergraduate dissertations. In Hilary 2021, Liam was the Lecturer for the Geopolitics in the Margins option

Postgraduate: Liam lectures on the “Environmental Justice” and “Research Methods and Practice” modules of the Nature, Society and Environmental Governance MSc. He also supervises postgraduate MSc students.

Selected Publications

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Book Reviews

Conference Papers

  • March 2022: “Reclaiming a resilient future: Climate Change, Land Reclamation and Development in Kiribati”, AAG Annual Conference
  • September 2021: “Sea Level Rise and the Temporalities of Islands in the Anthropocene: The Sinking/Growing/Artificial Islands of Tuvalu”, RGS-IBG Annual Conference
  • June 2021: “Sea Level Rise and the Temporalities of Islands in the Anthropocene: The Sinking/Growing/Artificial Islands of Tuvalu”, ISISA 2021: Sharing Lessons, Sharing Stories, International Small Island Studies Association
  • April 2021: “The Geopolitics of Adaptation: The Temporalities and Spatialities of Climate Change in Tuvalu”, Climate Justice Session, RGS-IBG Midterm Postgraduate Forum
  • June 2020: “Large oceanic or small island state? Seychelles’ Island Imaginaries and the Blue Economy”, Global Island Studies Webinar, International Small Islands Studies Association
  • May 2019: “Migrating with Dignity or Resilient Kiribati? Contested Narratives of Adaptation in Kiribati” Postgraduate and Early Career Research Development Workshop on Critical Climate Change Research, Centre for Climate Justice, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow
  • November 2018: “Migration in the Pacific World. Climate Change: Migrating with Dignity?”, Pacific Worlds in Global History, Nuffield College, University of Oxford
  • June 2018: “Small Island Imaginaries, Climate Change and Geopolitics: An Examination of Seychelles and Kiribati”, International Conference on Sustainable Alternatives to Poverty Reduction and Ecological Justice, University of the South Pacific, Fiji.