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Life Geographies

Life Geographies

The Life Geographies research group brings together academics, researchers and postgraduate students interested in advancing our understanding of the geographies and politics that define, and result from, the interaction of living and material systems, of human and non-human worlds, of life, health, disease and welfare, of technologies and biologies.

We draw upon a number of fields of contemporary geography and social science including Science and Technology Studies, Animal Geographies, Biopolitics, Discard Studies, Geographies of Embodiment, Health and Disease Studies, and Ethics. Our work takes us to laboratories, to fields and farms, to forests and woodlands, to urban natures, hospitals and clinics from Bangladesh to Brooklyn, from Melbourne to Manchester.

We work widely across the discipline of geography and actively collaborate with Exeter colleagues in Egenis, the Global Systems Institute (GSI), the Living Systems Institute (LSI), the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health as well as with many other universities and research centres across the globe, to progress understanding of the spatialities of life, health, materiality, and knowledge.

Recent and current research has been funded by a wide range of bodies and organisations including the Wellcome Trust, the Economic and Social Research Council, the European Commission, the Medical Research Foundation, the Medical Research Council, DEFRA, the Research Council of Norway, the Swedish Research Council, CEFAS and others.

The Life Geographies research group is committed to working in partnership with publics, policy-makers, and stakeholders to produce research and impacts that improve the future of human, animal, and environmental health. Members of the research group have served as appointed members of a number of Government and other advisory bodies such as the Farm Animal Welfare Committee, the Animals in Science Committee, the Social Science Research Committee of the Food Standards Agency and DEFRA’s Science Advisory Council.

Balayannis A (2020). Toxic sights: the spectacle of hazardous waste removal. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

Balayannis A, Garnett E (2020). Chemical Kinship: Interdisciplinary Experiments with Pollution. Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience6

Balayannis A, Garnett E (2020). Chemical Kinship. Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience6(1). 

Bavin D, MacPherson J, Denman H, Crowley SL, McDonald RA (2020). Using Q‐methodology to understand stakeholder perspectives on a carnivore translocation. People and Nature2(4), 1117-1130.

Booton, R.D., Meeyai, A., Alhusein, N., Buller, H ,et al., (2021). One Health drivers of antibacterial resistance: quantifying the relative impacts of human, animal and environmental use and transmission. One Health (in Press)  

Buller, H, Adam, K. Bard, A. et al (2020) Veterinary Diagnostic Practice and the Use of Rapid Tests in Antimicrobial Stewardship on UK Livestock Farms Front. Vet. Sci., 15 October 2020 

Buller, H., Blokhuis, H., Lokhorst, K., Silberberg, M. and Veissier, I., (2020). Animal welfare management in a digital world. Animals10 (10), doi:10.3390/ani10101779

Cacciatore J, Gorman R, Thieleman K (2020). Evaluating care farming as a means to care for those in trauma and grief. Health & Place62, 102281-102281. 

Cecchetti M, Crowley SL, McDonald RA (2020). Drivers and facilitators of hunting behaviour in domestic cats and options for management. Mammal Review

Chan KW (2020). Politics of Smell: Constructing Animal Waste Governmentality and Good Farming Subjectivities in Colonial Hong Kong. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 1-25.

Chan, KW. […] Buller, H., Hinchliffe, S. et al. (2020) Diagnostics and the challenge of antimicrobial resistance: a survey of UK livestock veterinarians’ perceptions and practices Veterinary Record,  Published Online First: 18 September 2020. doi:10.1136/vr.105822

Crowley S, Cecchetti M, McDonald R (In Press). Our wild companions: Domestic cats in the Anthropocene. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 

Crowley SL, Cecchetti M, McDonald RA (2020). Diverse perspectives of cat owners indicate barriers to and opportunities for managing cat predation of wildlife. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment18(10), 544-549. 

Davies G, Gorman R, et al. (2020). The Animal Research Nexus: a new approach to the connections between science, health, and animal welfare. Medical Humanities 

Davies G, Gorman R, Greenhough B, Hobson-West P, Kirk RGW, Message R, Dmitriy M, Palmer A, Roe E, Ashall V, et al (2020). The Animal Research Nexus: a new approach to the connections between science, health, and animal welfare. Medical Humanities 

Geiger, M., Hockenhull, J., Buller, H. et al. (2020). Understanding the Attitudes of Communities to the Social, Economic, and Cultural Importance of Working Donkeys in  Rural, Peri-urban, and Urban Areas of EthiopiaFrontiers in Veterinary Science7, p.60. doi:10.3389/fvets.2020.00060

Gorman R., Davies G (2020). When ‘cultures of care’ meet: Entanglements and accountabilities at the intersection of animal research and patient involvement in the UK. Social and Cultural Geography

Hinchliffe S. (2021) Postcolonial Global Health, Post-Colony Microbes and Antimicrobial ResistanceTheory, Culture & Society (February 2021) 

Hinchliffe, S, Butcher, A, Rahman, MM, Guilder, J, Tyler, C, Verner‐Jeffreys, D (2020). Production without medicalisation: Risk practices and disease in Bangladesh aquacultureGeogr J.; 00: 1– 12.

Jaric I, Courchamp F, Correia R, Crowley S et al (In Press). The role of species charisma in biological invasions. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 

Kirchhelle C, Atkinson P, Broom A, […] Hinchliffe, S. et al  (2020) Setting the standard: multidisciplinary hallmarks for structural, equitable and tracked antibiotic policy BMJ Global Health ; 5:e003091.

Little J (2020). Violence, the Body and the Spaces of Intimate War. Geopolitics25(5), 1118-1137

Maye D and Chan KWR (2020). On-farm biosecurity in livestock production: farmer behaviour, cultural identities and practices of care. Emerging Topics in Life Sciences4(5), 521-530. Abstract.  

Mill AC, Crowley S, Lambin X, McKinney C, Maggs G, Robertson P, Robinson NJ, Ward A, Marzano M (In Press). The challenges of long-term invasive mammal management: lessons from the UK. Mammal Review 

Morgans, Lisa, […] Buller, H. et al. (2020). A participatory, farmer-led approach to changing practices around antimicrobial use on UK farms. Journal of Dairy Science. 104 (2) 2212-2230. doi:10.3168/jds.2020-18874

Stentiford, G.D., Bateman, I.J., Hinchliffe, S.J. et al. (2020) Sustainable aquaculture through the One Health lensNat Food

Swan GJF, Redpath SM, Crowley SL, McDonald RA (2020). Understanding diverse approaches to predator management among gamekeepers in England. People and Nature2(2), 495-508. 

Swan GJF, Silva-Rodríguez EA, Márquez-García M, Crowley SL (2020). For livestock losses, a conservation scientist's ‘exceptional’ may be a farmer's ‘unacceptable’: a commentary to Ballejo et al. (2020). Biological Conservation250 

Our research

Our research can be grouped into the following five broad themes:

More-than-Human Geographies

Members of the Life Geographies research group have made major contributions to the development of Animal Geographies within the discipline and the broader social sciences.

A series of commissioned research review articles on ‘Animal Geographies’ was produced for the journal Progress in Human Geography between 2013 and 2015 by Henry Buller, who is also co-author of the recently published Food and Animal Welfare (Bloomsbury Press, 2018) and a contributory author to the Routledge Handbook of Human/Animal Studies and the Edinburgh Companion to Animal Studies.

Sarah Crowley brings her anthrozoological interests to the study of wildlife conservation and human-animal interactions in a range of settings, from cats in domestic spaces to squirrels in woodlands: her recently-published work on domestic cat predation attracting considerable media attention. 

Richard Gorman, working with Gail Davies on animal use in research (see Animals, Biomedical Research Practice and Ethics) recently established the interdisciplinary Animal Studies Reading Group at Exeter while others - Gail Davies, Steve Hinchliffe, Ray Chan - continue to contribute the field of more-than-human geographies through their research and writings.

Animals, Biomedical Research Practice and Ethics

Gail Davies is currently leading new approaches to understanding and responding to the changing place of animals in biomedical research through the Wellcome Trust funded Animal Research Nexus programme (2017-2022). This major interdisciplinary research explores changing practices of patient and public involvement with animal research, is developing experimental methodologies of engagement and is informing understandings of translational research and policy-making. This current project builds on Gail's recent work developing collaborative agendas for animal research and leading the UK review of Harm-Benefit Analysis for the UK Animals in Science Committee.

Other recent work in this area undertaken by members of the Research Group includes Richard Gorman’s research on care farming, which explores how health intersects with people’s ethical and emotional relationships with animals and Henry Buller’s research and policy work on farm animal welfare concerns within slaughterhouses and through practices of on-farm culling.

Related project websites:


Angeliki Balayannis is leading exciting new research agendas on geographies of waste and pollution, exploring the everyday ways in which hazardous materials are encountered, sensed, managed, and governed. Through her interdisciplinary work on chemical geographies, she is reconfiguring notions of toxicity, and developing new experimental methodologies across the arts, humanities, and natural sciences, to make sense of environmental violence. She has recently won an ESRC ‘Rapid Response to COVID-19’ funded interdisciplinary award for her project on waste management during Covid-19, whose first sector report, co-produced by the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management was published in December 2020.

Related project websites:

Health, Disease, Diagnostics and Antimicrobial Resistance

A major thrust of current research within the Research Group concerns contemporary animal and zoonotic diseases, particularly those linked to the livestock sector but extending to wider geographies of health and disease management practice.

Steve Hinchliffe has written extensively on the spatiality of disease, including in his recent monograph Pathological Lives (Wiley, 2017). He is currently researching production, disease and pharmaceutical pressures and solutions in shrimp and prawn aquaculture, Bangladesh, with partners CEFAS (UK), Worldfish Bangladesh and ARBAN. This work is part of an Antimicrobial Resistance Cross Council Initiative supported by the seven research councils in partnership with the Department of Health and Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs project entitled 'Production without medicalisation' (2017-2019). Steve has recently co-edited a collection of papers entitled ‘Anti-biosis – social and cultural enquiries into human-microbe relations’, published in Nature Communications.

Henry Buller, working with Steve Hinchliffe and Ray Chan, is leading a major interdisciplinary 4-year research project (DIAL 2017-2021) funded by the ESRC and other agencies, into the innovative use of diagnostic practices and test technologies to reduce antimicrobial use in livestock agriculture in the UK and Tanzania. Henry is also currently researching ‘One Health’ drivers of antimicrobial resistance in Thailand as part of an international research consortium funded by the Medical Research Council and a cross-country study of antibiotic decision making, funded by the Swedish Research Council. He is also part of the Medical Research Foundation’s National PhD training programme in Antimicrobial Resistance Research.

Ray Chan, also working on the DIAL project, has recently won GW4 funding to develop communicative pathways to reduce antimicrobial resistance on UK cattle farms and is continuing his research into disease and health management in pig farms in China.

Henry, Ray and Steve are all members of the University of Exeter AMR Research Network.

Related project websites: 

Health and Ageing

Building on her extensive research in the fields of gender and social geography in rural UK, New Zealand and elsewhere, Jo Little, along with the Social Innovation Group of the University of Exeter,  is researching better ways to address issues of loneliness and isolation amongst the rural aged through the HAIRE (Healthy Ageing through Innovation in Rural Europe) project, an Interreg 2Seas funded research project, which commenced on 1st Jan 2020 and is made up of a partnership of 14 Local Authorities, academic institutions and voluntary and community service organisations across Europe.

Related project websites: