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I welcome PhD students working on issues of forced migration, resistance and citizenship.

Personal profile


I am a Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow in Human Geography. Prior to this position I held an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2018-2019) and Political Geography Teaching Fellowship (2017-2018) in the Geography Department at Durham University.


I am a Political Geographer, working on asylum politics, resistance, citizenship and the politics of epistemology within the academy. My work to date has coalesced around three main themes: 


1. Geographies of resistance.

I am interested in how resistance is conceptualized within Geography. My work has explored how understandings of resistance within Geography are often characterised by a predetermination of form that particular actions or actors must assume to constitute resistance. Asking what we risk ignoring if we only focus on predetermined, recognisable resistant forms, my work seeks to revisit some of the fundamental assumptions (of intention, linearity and opposition) that underpin accounts of resistance. What are the logics that have come to govern how resistance is framed? What are the implications of decentering these logics for how Geographers engage with resistance? How/can Geographers engage with resistance in ‘its’ emergence?

My edited manuscript Critical Geographies of Resistance is due out with Edward Elgar Press in Spring 2023.


2. Geographies of forced migration.

I have a longstanding interest in how systems of asylum governance are lived, experienced and resisted. To this end, I work with third sector organisations in the UK who, in different ways, support forced migrants in detention centres, dispersal accommodation and those who recently have been granted leave to remain.

I am currently working on a British Academy Small Grant (2021-2023): Bridging The Gap: The Lived Experiences of Refugees Granted Leave to Remain.


3. Geographies of knowledge production.

My focus upon the geographies of knowledge production, has included pursuing questions around resistance, knowledge production and what constitutes ‘the political.' This has involved interdisciplinary work on Obfuscated democracy focussing upon the relationship between whistle-blowers, FOIA and knowledge production within the academy. I have also explored Affect and the politics of memory, and took part in collective research on affect and the politics of memory at the ten-year anniversary of the London bombings.

I am working on Countermapping Detention, a collaborative project responding to the US government’s decicion to reschedule archival records from detention centres. As part of this work, we submitted written evidence to National Archive and Records Administration (NARA), concerning the pending decision to stop archiving this data. 


Selected Publications


Journal Articles

Hughes, S. M., Murrey, A., Krishnan, S.,  van Teijlingen. K., Daley, P., Nowicki, M., Fannin, M.,  MacLeavy, J. (forthcoming) The Political Geographies of Resistance: Collective Reflections on the Contributions of Cindi Katz, 15 years on. Political Geography.

Hughes, S M. and Martin, L L. (Online First) Documenting Detention: The Politics of Archiving Immigration Enforcement Records in the United States’ National Archives and Records Administration. The Professional Geographer. 

Hughes, S M. (2022) (In)coherent subjects? The politics of conceptualising resistance in the UK asylum system. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. (40) 2: 541-560

Hughes, S M. (2021) Mobile resistances: Tracing a genealogy of dissent. Response to Gopal, Priyamvada. Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent. Dialogues in Human Geography. 11(3):497-499.

Hughes, S M. (2021) "Wait for a permanent contract" The temporal politics of (in)fertility as an Early Career Researcher. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. 39(8):1725-1736.

Hughes, S M. (2020) On Resistance within Human Geography. Progress in Human Geography. 44 (6): 1141-1160.

Garnett, P and Hughes, S. M. (2019) Obfuscated Democracy? Chelsea Manning and the politics of knowledge curation. Political Geography. 68: 23-33

Maestri, G and Hughes, S. M. (2017) Guest Editor’s Introduction to Special Issue. Contested Spaces of Citizenship: Camps, Borders and Urban Encounters. Citizenship Studies 21 (6): 625-639

Hughes, S. M. and Forman, P. (2017) A Material Politics of Citizenship: The potential of circulating materials from UK Immigration Removal Centres. Citizenship Studies 21 (6): 675-692

Closs Stephens, A, Hughes, S. M., Schofield, V. & Sumartojo, S. (2017) Atmospheric Memories: Affect and minor politics at the ten-year anniversary of the London bombings. Emotion, Space and Society. 23:44-51.

Hughes, S. M. (2016) Beyond intentionality: exploring creativity and resistance within a UK Immigration Removal Centre. Citizenship Studies. 20:427-443.


Book Chapters

Hughes, S M. and Garnett P. (2020) Researching the emergent technologies of state control: The court-martial of Chelsea Manning. In de Goede, M., Palister-Wilkins, P and Bosma, E (eds) Routledge Method’s textbook: Secrecy and Methodology in Critical Security Research. Routledge: London.

Garnett, P and Hughes, S M. (2020) Obfuscated democracy? Chelsea Manning and the politics of democratic knowledge curation. In Macnish, K and Galliott, J’s (eds) Big Data and the Democratic Process. Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh

Hughes, S, M. (2019) Resistance. In Kobayashi, A and Tyner, J (eds) International Encyclopaedia of Human Geography. Elsevier. London.


Book Reviews

Hughes, S. M. (2020) “Handbook on Critical Geographies of Migration” edited by Katharyne Mitchell, Reece Jones, and Jennifer L. Fluri. Border Criminologies. 

Hughes, S. M. (2019) Book Review “After the flight: The Dynamics of Refugee Settlement and Integration. Edited by Poteet, M. and Nourpanah, S. Cambridge Publishers” Journal of Refugee Studies. 32 (1): 169–171.

Hughes, S. M. (2018) “Challenging Immigration Detention” edited by Michael J. Flynn and Matthew B. Flynn. (Edward Elgar, 2017). Border Criminologies. 

Hughes, S. M. (2017) “Detaining the Immigrant Other: Global and Transnational Issues.” Edited by Rich Furman, Douglas Epps and Greg Lamphear, (Oxford University Press, 2016) Carceral Geography Working Group of the RGS with IBG. 

Hughes, S. M. (2016) “Nothing Personal?: Geographies of Governing and Activism in the British Asylum System” by Nick Gill (John Wiley & Sons, 2016). Border Criminologies. 


Public Commentaries 

Hughes, S M. (2021) Guest pannelist for International Women's Day [UCU Podcast] 

Hughes, S. M and Garnett, P. (2018) Obfuscated democracy? Chelsea Manning, and the challenges of working with (de)classified materials. Society and Space [Online].

Hughes, S. M (2016) Border Control: Reflections on Artwork in Spaces of Incarceration. Border Criminologies. 

Hughes, S. M (2016) “I don’t know you and you don’t know me… but we are listening”: Reflections on a community exchange project. Music in Detention. 

Hughes, S. M (2016) Creativity and Resistance within UK Immigration Removal CentresBorder Criminologies. 



This academic year (2021-2022), I am teaching on the following modules:

  • KE3004: Transition to University
  • KE4001: Introduction to Human Geography
  • KE5005: Approaches to Research in Human Geography (Module Convener)
  • KE5006: P/political Geographies
  • KE5008: Economic Geography
  • KE6024: Critical Urban Geography
  • KE7010: Housing and Health



2021. British Academy Small Grant (£9388.50)

2018. NINEDTP ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (£43218)

2017. Overseas Institutional Visit with Prof. Alison Mountz (ESRC, £3250)

2016. Postgraduate Conference Funding (Durham Geography, £500)

2014. Trevelyan College Research Travel Bursary (£500)

2013. ESRC 1+3 Research Funding (£72754)

2009. Vice Chancellor's Award for Academic Excellence (£2000)


I am currently treasurer of the Gender and Feminist Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society (2021-2023)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Geography, PhD, Durham University

Award Date: 8 Feb 2018

Research Methods, MA, Durham University

Award Date: 30 Sept 2014

Geography, BA (Hons), Durham University

Award Date: 31 Jul 2011


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