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Dr Sam Strong

Sam

QMUL Model Lecturer in Human Geography

Email: s.strong@qmul.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 2752
Room Number: Bancroft Building, Room 2.03

Profile

My research focuses on the contemporary spatial politics of poverty and inequality in the UK. I am interested in the changing geographies of everyday life, thinking through how people negotiate processes of impoverishment, welfare reform and the complex institutional landscape that is emerging at a time of austerity. These changes are not natural but politically produced, and my work seeks to expose the practices, policies and cultural political economy that drive the reproduction of inequality.

As a geographer, I am particularly concerned with the specific role of place in how people negotiate poverty and deprivation, as well as theorising the political responsibility of the discipline of geography in making space for equality.

Teaching

As a QMUL Model lecturer, I am committed to delivering innovative and engaging research-led teaching that facilitates the core principles of the QMUL Model. For me, teaching should be a way of equipping students with the intellectual tools for thinking critically about and engaging with the world around them. To do so, I strive to bring complex theoretical ideas in geography down to the level of students' own everyday lives and experiences, fostering an active learning environment by teaching through reference to popular culture, current affairs and contemporary political moments.

For 2017-8, I am contributing lectures, practicals, tutorials and/or field-based classes to the following undergraduate modules:

  • GEG4002—Ideas and Practice in Geography and Environmental Science
  • GEG4003—Geography in the World
  • GEG4004—Research Methods for Geographers and Environmental Scientists (convener)
  • GEG4006—Cities and Regions in Transition (convener)
  • GEG4106—Reinventing Britain
  • GEG5103—Geographical Research in Practice
  • GEG5131—Contemporary London: Life in the Global Metropolis

Research

Research Interests:

At the broadest level, I am a geographer working on issues of social and spatial difference. I am interested not simply with measuring the extent of inequality, but rather in thinking critically about why and how inequalities persist. Specifically, I strive to address those social and spatial inequalities often presumed to be 'natural', and seek to interrogate the political work achieved by the various processes that divide and distinguish between people and places. In this sense, my research uniquely sits at the intersection of several parts of the discipline, positioned within urban, cultural and political geography.

My work to date has focused on four key themes:

The Spatial Politics of Poverty and Austerity

My first research endeavour is in producing critical, geographically sensitive accounts of contemporary poverty and austerity in the UK. My doctoral research (completed at the University of Cambridge in April 2017) drew on fifteen months of immersive and participatory ethnography in order to construct an account of everyday life in the UK's most deprived county. Focusing on the various structural processes and the acts of agency through which poverty and inequality are reproduced on a daily basis, I am continuing to theorise how people build solidarities, craft places and articulate a politics within the context of impoverishment. I am currently disseminating the findings of this work via academic publication and a book proposal.

The Everyday Politics of Foodbanking

A second strand of research that emerged (and extended beyond) my doctoral work is to do with the politics of foodbanking in the UK. I worked as both a volunteer and researcher at a food bank in the Valleys of south Wales for over a year, collecting the testimonies of staff, donors, users and local partners in order to theorise their everyday geographical experiences. Specifically, I am interested in the relationship between food insecurity and austerity, the role of foodbanks as institutions tasked with regulating and surveilling hungry populations, and the emotional and affective geographies that unfold in foodbank spaces. I am working on a set of three academic publications that disseminate these findings.

Place, Politics and a People's Geography

Given the empirical and theoretical thrust of my research, I am particularly concerned with thinking through the role of the discipline of geography in making space for equality. In surveying the limits to previous work on public and people's geographies, I am interested in the ways in which the production of geographical knowledge often ignores and conceals the vernacular language, experiences and testimonies of marginalised people and places. In theorising the notion of a people's geography as a methodology, I am interested in thinking about the unique role geographers can play in not only studying the world around us, but intervening in it.

Intersecting inequalities, the SDGs and operationalizing the 'Leave no one behind agenda' (postdoctoral research at the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge)

At present, I am also employed as a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Geography, Cambridge, on the ESRC-funded project 'Operationalizing the leave no one behind agenda' (principal investigator: Professor Sarah Radcliffe). Through a critical understanding of intersecting inequalities, the research interrogates the challenges and opportunities arising from the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. As such, it is a project that weds together my critical interest in the geographies of inequality with the active ways in which governments, organisations and communities can combat social exclusion and marginality.

Publications

  • Strong, S. (2017): "Re-placing Poverty"; The King's Review; Volume: 'Extremes', pp. 78-88.
  • Strong, S. (2014): "Underclass Ontologies"; Political Geography Volume 42, pp. 117-120.
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