An introduction to the Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics from the Director, Dr Nichola Khan.
Global challenges – climate change, human migration, resource access or depletion, and the many social inequalities – require interdisciplinary research and productive, efficient knowledge exchange. In this way, we can work together to interrogate and address the complex interconnections between their spatial, environmental and cultural dimensions. The Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics (SECP) was created to give researchers from across the disciplines opportunities to combine their expertise and to develop relationships with global partners in order to face these challenges.
The research work we undertake addresses urgent ecological and social challenges through a unique focus upon their interconnected dimensions. Collaborative research combines theories and methods from geography, the social sciences, the physical sciences, the arts, media and communication studies, and humanities, to offer interdisciplinary perspectives on large and small-scale global challenges. With this commitment to collaborative research, we co-create research projects with a range of non-academic partners from policy, communities, arts, education, and the public and private sectors, seeking to transform people’s lives at the local, national and global level.
Our researchers at the Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics (SECP) explore ways the spaces, environments and cultures are governed, represented and experienced within local, national, international and everyday contexts. We span the politics of environment, race, nationality, gender, culture, ethnicity, North-South and East-West divides – including how they are spatially shaped and imagined, ideologically inspired or limited, and diversely lived and experienced.
The research centre’s themes respond to the changing world around us and the best opportunities our research has for impact, making a difference and motivating real-world change. Details of these can be seen on our What we do pages. To give some examples here, we have long-standing depth across: research into Environmental politics and climate change including extractivism, climate justice, climate activism and engagement, minority land rights, conservation, feminist political ecology, histories and genealogies of conceptual debates and dominant framings; research into Migration and mobilities including undocumented migrants, asylum seekers and legal provision, borders and bordering, housing, diasporic identities and communities; and research into Decolonial practices and anti-racist politics including legacies of empire, neo-imperialisms and activisms, settler colonialisms, indigenous communities, colonial and intergenerational trauma, post-Brexit literature, race in sport and popular culture.
With the goal of contributing to the creation of more sustainable, inclusive and socially just societies, the centre places collaborative and participatory research as central to the production of transformative knowledge and practice in achieving more ethical and sustainable communities. We seek to challenge and subvert power relations through insights into their spatial, cultural and political dynamics, and provide alternative modes of living and being. As such, we take an ethical commitment to tackling issues of governance, science and technology, and politics. Through innovative outputs like podcasts, ‘zines and multi-modal research articles, many of our members have worked collaboratively with each other for the first time as a direct result of the Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics. These include funded doctoral studentships, research outputs, funding applications and external events.
We look forward to meeting partners, associates, collaborators and students who can join with or benefit from our research work.
Dr Nichola Khan