Everyday Geopolitical Lives

It sometimes feels as if the world is in a perpetual state of uncertainty and (political, economic and environmental) crisis. These crises are experienced unevenly in different places and at different spatial scales. There is a long tradition of critical human geography research at the University of Leicester which examines the ‘ordinary’ and ‘mundane’ spaces of people’s everyday lives. For us, there is a tension in geography between studying extraordinary spaces and those of the everyday. In other words, should we be most concerned with unusual and exceptional spaces or the sites where most things happen? For many of us it is important to explore the multiple ways in which ordinary, provincial, marginal, and potentially mundane spaces are experienced by different people. It is in these spaces where communities live, where they negotiate conviviality, and where new spatial and social formations can develop. Often it is in apparently everyday places that alternatives emerge and survivability is fostered. This work is intrinsically political, being concerned with how questions of identity, recognition, representation, and access to resources of various kinds matter in the spaces that people use every day. Increasingly, our work also examines how the experience of these everyday spaces are shaped by broader geopolitical conflicts, tensions and forms of world-making. We are interested in the ways that questions of geopolitics and biopolitics materialize and are felt in people’s ordinary lives.

Research within this theme explores people’s experiences of living amongst multicultures and super-diversity (in their schools, their neighbourhoods, and in urban greenspaces), as well as engaging in everyday acts of cosmopolitan consumption; aspects of international student mobility and other forms of transnational migration; and, the intimate geopolitics of surviving cancer – everyday spaces and people engaging in difficult, different and challenging issues. At the same time, members of the research theme also explore state-led forms of diplomacy and popular geopolitics, such as the ways in which states, NGOs and businesses produce geopolitical knowledge about sexual orientation and gender identity. Furthermore, the School has a long tradition of examining how different forms of activism and protest produce particular ways of understanding the world. Members of the theme are currently researching the forms of transnational solidarity produced by the international anti-apartheid movement; anti-gentrification resistance; and contemporary HIV/AIDS activism that is advocating access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection. Our interest in online spaces is also found in work examining gendered and sexualized relations amongst users of collaborative internet platforms such as Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap. The group is researching these topics using a variety of creative methods (including poetry, photographic montage, and novel forms of data visualization) in conjunction with our Creative Research Methods Lab, as well as using more standard archival, interviewing and narrative techniques.

Our research asks

  • How can we understand the modulation between extreme (geopolitical) events and everydayness?
  • How do the geo-political and bio-politics interact in the contemporary world? How do considerations of the earth, land, and territory shape the regulation of the life and death of populations?
  • How do people survive and experience survivability? How does life go on after catastrophic or life-threatening events (at multiple spatial scales)?