My PhD research looks at the queer affects, practices and relations found in rural areas, and is based in both the School of Humanities and the School of Environment and Technology at the University of Brighton.
Academic understandings of sexuality often privilege urban centres as places where queer sex flourishes, which builds the assumption that sex must be visible and performed in order to be understood. My research challenges this metronormative link between ‘urbanity’ and ‘sex’. Instead, I explore ‘grey’, less-visible areas between sexual and non-sexual, somewhere and nowhere, and assert the queerness of non-metropolitan, ‘green’ areas.
My research interests can be categorised into 3 areas, all of which I approach using queer theory:
Asexualities and Nonsexualities
What can asexual people, communities and experiences teach us about sex, sexuality, desire and gender? Asexual people do not experience sexual attraction to others. Their livelihoods, perspectives and politics can therefore help us to critique systems of social and sexual control, like compulsory heterosexuality for example. I am interested in exploring the relations that people who do not experience sexual attraction have to 'sex' as a social function of power.
I'm also interested in understanding 'nonsexual' ways of being, and uncovering their radical politics. Unlike asexuality, all people engage with nonsexual ways of relating and feeling. What happens when we understand friendship, romance or even loneliness as nonsexualities?
Rural Queer Studies
The countryside is often seen as a place that lacks queerness, or at least opportunities through which to live queerly. Even so, many queer people continue to live in rural areas. In fact, non-metropolitan space plays host to some very deviant and dissident sexualities and experiences, whose queerness remains underappreciated.
I'm currently researching how one can respond to this tendency, and am doing so by studying queer relations, affects and identities in one rural area in SW England. I question the dominance of 'lack' and 'absence' in defining rural queer space, and am working towards new ways on conceptualising 'rural queer'.
Feminist, Queer, Spatial and Critical Theory
My interest in theory is wide-ranging but is most powerfully informed by queer theory. My research attempts to queer concepts and learn from the margins, but it is also informed by intersectional and abolitionist feminist thinking, as well as poststructural and postmodern understandings of space, place and philosophy. As such my research has previously engaged with: Butler, Foucault, Haraway, Massey, Halperin, Sedgwick, Halberstam, Ahmed, Lorde, Deleuze and Guattari.