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Dr Suzy Solley

Research Associate

Location: City Centre, Bancroft Building, Room 2.11


Suzy Solley

Research interests
My research interests are primarily in gender, development, intersectionality, well-being and health, agency, qualitative methods and South Asia.

Single women (widows) group (Lalitpur, Nepal, 2013).
Single women (widows) group (Lalitpur, Nepal, 2013). Sushma, 31, (top left) was widowed 7 years ago and is a social activist working for Women for Human Rights (WHR). She runs the widows group in her area where she provides adult education classes and teaches other widowed women about their rights.

PhD research
My PhD research was born out of a longstanding academic engagement and personal interest with Nepali widows. In an expansive feminist literature on gender and development, scholarly research on widows and widowhood remains limited, particularly within the context of Nepal. While there are some important exceptions, existing work tends to reinforce stereotypes of widows as old and poor victims, and widowhood as essentially a marginalised and vulnerable status. My PhD research showed that widowhood is more complex than much of the scholarship to date suggests. Key findings included the particular salience of age, caste, religion and the life-course in shaping experiences of widowhood. My work demonstrates that while widows’ understandings of well-being can be categorised as material, perceptual and relational, relationships with children, family and the wider community underpin all of these. This research also uncovered widows’ complicated and contradictory enactments of agency that can be placed on a ‘resisting-conforming’ continuum. My work contributes to more nuanced empirical and theoretical understandings of widows and widowhood, and to the concepts of intersectionality, well-being and agency more broadly. With my doctoral research, and my personal pursuits outwith this work, I aim to bring attention to the issue of widowhood and to uncover its complexities, and by doing so I hope to improve the lives of widowed women.

I am Tower Hamlets initiative
I am Tower Hamlets initiative (Tower Hamlets, 2016)

Current research
I am currently working on a research project in collaboration with Greenwich Leisure Limited, and funded by Tower Hamlets council. Given the major public health problems in the borough of Tower Hamlets, this qualitative research is concerned with exploring the various barriers to participation in exercise. In addition, this project will also investigate the effectiveness and impact that the “I am Tower Hamlets” initiative is having on the local community. “I am Tower Hamlets” is a community exercise project supporting and empowering residents of Tower Hamlets in becoming more active. The initiative has already, and will continue to, pilot a number of activities and events to engage people in exercise. In doing so this research will establish the current and potential role that leisure and sport facilities play in their surrounding communities.

Married women at Pashupatinath Temple (Kathmandu, 2013).
Married women at Pashupatinath Temple (Kathmandu, 2013). This image of Teej festival above illustrates the importance of marriage in Nepal. Married women queue for hours in the summer heat, having fasted for 24 hours, in order to enter the Pashupatinath Temple to pray for the long life of their husbands.

Academic background

  • 2012-2016: Geography (PhD), Queen Mary University of London
  • 2011–2012: Geography (MRes), University of Glasgow
  • 2007–2011: Geography and Management (MA. Soc), University of Glasgow


  • September 2016 - Centre for Public Engagement Small Research Grant
  • 2012-2015 - PhD research, Economic Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • 2013-2014 - PhD research in Nepal, Queen Mary Research Fund
  • 2013-2014 - PhD research in Nepal, ESRC Overseas Research Fund
  • 2011-2012 - Masters Scholarship, University of Glasgow Studentship
  • 2010- Undergraduate Research Funding, Carnegie Trust

Organisation involvement
Co-founder and Trustee: Mutu Nepal

Contact details
If you are interested in my research I would love to hear from you.
Address: Room 2.11, City Centre, Francis Bancroft building, Queen Mary University, London


Teaching and demonstrating

  • “Green London” (1st year fieldtrip) (2015 and 2016)
  • “An Introduction to Geographical Ideas and Practice” session on “Doing research: postgraduate perspectives” (Masters and PhD) (2015 and 2016)
  • “Geographical Research in Practice” (2nd years) (2015)
  • “Doing research: postgraduate perspectives” (PhD) (2015)
  • “Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods” (1st years) (2014-2016)



Presentations and lectures

  • Guest lecture entitled  ‘Rewriting Widowhood: Intersectionality, Well-being and Agency Amongst Widowed Women in Nepal’ at University of East London International Development Guest Lecture Series, University of East London, November 2016
  • Poster presentation entitled ‘An Intersectional Exploration into the Well-being and Agency of Nepali Widows’ at ‘Social Change In East Asian and Developing Countries’ ESRC Seminar Series, University of York, June 2014
  • Presentation and panel participant at the ‘International Conference on Widowhood’, Kathmandu, June 2010

PhD Supervision

Public engagement

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