Category Archives: Members

Eleanor Martin

Eleanor Martin is a PhD candidate in Human Geography in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, and supervised by Prof. Hester Parr and Dr. Cheryl McGeachan. She can be contacted by e-mail: or on twitter @eleanormartin.


My doctoral research considers the impact that work and working has on recovery for people with severe and enduring mental health conditions. Much ‘policy work’ that concerns people with disabilities advocates that the best way to support individuals is to get them into mainstream employment. There has been a lack of evidence to disprove this, as there has been a dearth of research into alternatives. The spatial implications of getting people with severe mental health conditions into ‘mainstream’ workplaces are myriad and complex, and are rarely thoroughly considered by policy makers. Through this research I hope to change the way that ‘work’ is thought about, consider how mental health services can offer meaningful alternatives to workfare-style practices, and contribute to growing literature about the geographies of mental health.

I am a qualitative researcher, with particular interests in emotional geographies. My PhD fieldwork has entailed an in-depth ethnographic study as an ‘observant participant’ at a mental health organisation in Glasgow. In addition to this I have undertaken semi-structured interviews to ask specific questions about work, and gathered documentary evidence from my field site to gain a deeper perspective on the cultural and political history of the organisation I am researching.



Introducing: Tom Disney

Tom Disney is a PhD student in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (GEES), at the University of Birmingham. He is supervised by Dr Dominique Moran, Dr Phil Jones (GEES) and Dr Jeremy Morris (Russian Studies). He can be contacted at

TDisney Picture

Geographies of Orphan Care in the Russian Federation

My research explores the different environments and spaces of care for orphaned children in the Russian Federation. This project employs a multi-sited (auto)-ethnography and explores the orphanage as a complex institution imbued with societal and cultural norms, influenced and shaped by Soviet and Post-Soviet theories and practices of child development and care. In particular this research draws upon ethnographic work conducted in an orphanage for children with severe intellectual disabilities. The project considers the multi-scalar nature of this institution including micro scale mobilities and elements of discipline and control within the institution, but also macro-scale interactions with society beyond the orphanage’s walls examining the ways in which children are drawn into such environments against their will.


Pykett, J. and Disney, T. (Forthcoming) ‘Brain-targeted Teaching and the Biopolitical Child’ in T. Skelton, K. Pauliina Kallio, and S. Mills (eds.) Geographies of Children and Young People. Politics, Citizenship and Rights (Springer).

Disney, T. (Forthcoming) ‘The Role of Emotion in Institutional Spaces of Russian Orphan Care: Policy and Practical Matters’ in M. Blazek and P. Kraftl (eds.) Children’s Emotions in Policy and Practice: Mapping and Making Spaces of Childhood (Basingstoke: Palgrave).

Disney, T. (2015) ‘Complex Spaces of Orphan Care – A Russian Therapeutic Children’s Community’ Children’s Geographies 13(1): 30-43.

Disney, T., E. Harrowell, R. Mulhall, and M. Ronayne (2013) ‘Doctoral researcher skill development: learning through doing’ Planet 27(2): 14-20.

Disney, T. (2012) ‘Краткий обзор советской концептуализации молодежи [A Short Overview of Soviet Conceptualisations of Youth]’ Rusistika No. 37

Introducing: Lauren Farquharson

Lauren Farquharson is currently undertaking a PhD in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, and supervised by Prof. Chris Philo and Dr. Cheryl McGeachan. She can be contacted by e-mail:

Parochial asylums and poorhouse lunatic wards – where the Scottish Poor and Lunacy Laws collided

My research focuses on parochial asylums and poorhouse lunatic wards; institutional spaces which remain deeply unfamiliar and unknown in the landscape of nineteenth century Scottish pauper lunacy. These sites embody contestation and ambiguity, lingering on the edges of the more familiar topography of royal and district asylums. Parochial asylums and poorhouse lunatic wards represent the grounded manifestation of the collision between two spheres of legislation – the Poor Law 1845 and the Lunacy Law 1857. Parochial asylums in particular – six of which were constructed in the latter half of the nineteenth century – express the enduring mandate and preeminence of the Scottish Poor Law over the domain of ‘madness’. They were institutions whose very existence was fashioned into being at the directive of the local arm of the Poor Law, the parochial board. This deed subverted the intentions and objectives of the Lunacy Act – the aim of which had been to institute a public district asylum network in which all pauper lunatics were to have been relocated – casting it aside in order to pave the way for a continuing ‘Scottish Poor Law of Lunacy’ (Bartlett, 1999). These sites symbolise zones of ‘legal indistinction’ and can be theorised as ‘spaces of the exception’ (Agamben, 1998; 2005). They are sites which encompass a host of tensions and contradictions between the Scottish Poor and Lunacy Laws; national and local authorities; and ‘State’ and ‘Law’. Being primarily urban phenomena, they represent key sites in which to examine in order to detect associations of ‘madness’, poverty and urbanism (linking to matters of capitalist industrialisation and social class). My research aims to explore the gaps between legislation and grounded practices, tracing out how these played out with respect to the curious phenomena of parochial asylums and poorhouse lunatic wards. By novel usage of largely untapped documentary sources, I aim to reveal something of the entangled geographies of these spaces in which the Poor and Lunacy Laws became enmeshed and entangled; reconstructing their geographies as they emerged and transformed. I will use a mixture of top-level papers from national bodies (including the Boards of Supervision and Lunacy), local level archival sources (from parochial authorities and district boards), and all available institutional material and local records (newspapers, photographs, memoirs). The aim is to illuminate parochial asylums and poorhouse lunatic wards as spaces which were at the epicentre of the treatment of the ‘mad’ pauper, situated at a juncture of legality and illegality – spaces of both indistinction and exception. This research will contribute to historical geographies of ‘madness’, asylums and psychiatry in Scotland; fields which are making continued interventions into psychiatric, medical and social history.

Introducing: Carolyn Gibbeson

Carolyn Gibbeson is a PhD candidate in the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies (ICCHS) at Newcastle University. She can be contacted at:


Haunted Hospitals: An examination of the role of place attachment in the reuse of former, historic asylums

The research seeks to investigate the hypothesis that place attachment is a barrier to the development and re-use of Victorian asylums, as heritage buildings. As a functioning institution, the Victorian asylum was a feared place, symbolising the segregation of the mentally ill from normal society. Yet, as Franklin (2002) argues, the negative perceptions of the asylum have eased, to be replaced by an appreciation of its built form, and perhaps even a certain romance associated with the asylum as a place of recuperation, following the large-scale closures at the end of the twentieth century. It is for this reason that former asylums, subsequently re-named and redeployed as hospitals during the twentieth century, provide an ideal case study for a research project examining the phenomena of place attachment and heritage redevelopment of major institutional sites in the UK. Place attachment and its relationship with the environment has been explored quite extensively in recent literature on environmental psychology and cultural geography (Cresswell 2004; Scannell & Gifford, 2009, Rollero & de Piccoli 2010). In public history, the continuing significance of place and locality has attracted considerable attention in the context of globalisation (Driver and Samuel, 1995). However, less attention has been paid to the relationship between heritage, place attachment and the built environment, and it is to this field that the research is designed to make its main contribution.

Anna Schliehe

Anna Schliehe is a Research Associate at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge and a College Research Associate at King’s College, Cambridge. If you want to get in touch with Anna please email:


Within the Prison Research Centre Anna is part of the Comparative Penology Group which is led by Dr Ben Crewe and his research team who, since 2016, have been working on a five-year project titled: ‘Penal policymaking and the prisoner experience: a comparative analysis’. This project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC). The research is based in England & Wales, and Norway, and involves four inter-related studies of (a) penal policymaking and the penal field (b) the experience of entry into and release from custody (c) the daily experiences of female prisoners and imprisoned sex offenders, and (d) prisoners in the most secure parts of each jurisdiction’s prison system.

Anna was awarded a Diplom (Geography) from the University of Muenster, Germany, in 2011 and went on to do a MRes in Human Geography at the University of Glasgow. She completed her doctoral research project in 2013-2016 with the title ‘Tracing outsideness: young women’s institutional journeys and geographies of closed space’. Her research on the Scottish criminal justice system and its responses to young women in particular is informed by both carceral geography and criminological scholarship. Anna is interested in understanding the nature and experience of closed spaces, connecting empirical to conceptually challenging research. Looking at institutions like secure care units, prison and closed psychiatric facilities for young women included tracing their lives in-between and beyond these closed spaces. Always interested in wider mental health geographies Anna co-organised one of the asylum/post-asylum spaces conferences in 2014 in Glasgow titled title ‘Troubling Institutions – Exploring Spaces of Security and Care’.

Anna has published Carceral Spatiality: Dialogues between Geography and Criminology, with Palgrave (2017) and co-edited by Dominique Moran. Anna has recently published in journals including Progress in Human Geography, The Scottish Geographical Journal and Geografiska Annaler B.


Recent and forthcoming chapters and papers include:

  • Moran, D., Turner, J., Schliehe, A. (2017) Conceptualizing the carceral in carceral geography. Progress in Human Geography, 1-21.
  • Schliehe, A. (2017) ‘Towards a feminist carceral geography? Of female offenders and prison spaces’ In: Moran, D.; Schliehe, A. (eds) Confined places, secure spaces: The spatialisation of studies of confinement. Palgrave, London: 75-112.
  • Schliehe, A. (2017) ‘Constraint locomotion: of complex micro-scale mobilities in carceral environments’ In: Peters, K.; Turner, J. (eds) Carceral mobilities: Interrogating Movement in Incarceration. Routledge, Abingdon: 115-130.
  • Schliehe, A.; Crowley, A. (2017) ‘Carefully controlled: young people and their pathways through spaces of secure care’ In: Horton J.; Pyer,M. (eds) Children, young people and care. Routledge, Abingdon: 108-123.
  • Schliehe, A. (2016) ‘Re-discovering Goffman – contemporary carceral geography, the ‘total’ institution and notes on heterotopia’ In: Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography Volume 98, Issue1: 19-35.
  • Schliehe, A. (2015) ‘Locking up children and young people – secure care in Scotland’ In: Horton, J.; Evans, B. (eds) Geographies of Children and Young People. Springer, London: p.1-19.
  • Schliehe, A. (2014) ‘Inside ‘the Carceral’: Girls and Young Women in the Scottish Criminal Justice System’ In: Scottish Geographical Journal, 71-85.

Louise Boyle

Louise Boyle is a 4th year PhD candidate in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow. She is supervised by Prof. Chris Philo and Dr. Cheryl McGeachan. She can be contacted by e-mail:, or Twitter @Louise_eb


The social and anticipatory geography of Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety is defined in interpersonal terms as a ‘habit of fearful self-protection’ (Stravynski, 2014, 90). It is deeply entangled with an individual’s social and interpersonal environments, provoking intense distress for those who perceive social interactions and spaces to be threatening. The experience of social anxiety rupture the fabrics, places and spaces of everyday life; and it is fundamentally geographical, bound up in an intimate social geography of experience where anxiety, fear, embarrassment and shame occur across a range of social settings.Social anxiety is although a thoroughly anticipatory condition where anticipations of what could go wrong in future social settings, shape and inhibit future conducts, movements and relationships, sometimes shutting them down completely with serious implications for career, sociality and well-being. Where the individual seeks to avoid negatively anticipated experiences, they can reduce their social geography to one of home-bound isolation. crucially, these experiences work temporally in both directions, with memories of (real or imagined) past embarrassments, and their settings, being projected into anticipations of future difficulties.

Social anxiety is predominantly understood and treated within biomedical and cognitive frameworks. My doctoral research introduces a socio-spatial understanding of social anxiety to extremely limited accounts outside of these fields.  The intention is to shift the ‘framing’ of social anxiety from ‘disease’ to ‘dis-ease‘, in order to recognise the wider personal, social, interpersonal and cultural conditions that may cause and sustain social anxieties. I explore the everyday lived experience of social anxiety in order to trace everyday social practices, interactions and spaces that generate intense and distressing anxieties for the individual and the implications for social and emotional lives, education and employment and overall health and wellbeing.

As a qualitative researcher I am interested in personal and experiential accounts of health and illness however, due to the nature of social anxiety ‘traditional’ research methods (e.g. face-to-face/telephone interviews) may have been difficult and distressing for potential participants. Therefore, I employed online methods in the form of an online questionnaire and text-based, real-time online interviews.

See also: Anxious Spaces Blog

Select publications:

Boyle, L.E. (2018) The (un)habitual geographies of social anxiety disorder, Social Science and Medicine


Introducing: Prof Chris Philo

Chris Philo is a Professor of Geography in the School of Geographical & Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, and can be contacted by email:


My PhD and subsequent research centred on what I have termed the historical geography of the ‘mad-business’ in England and Wales (‘mad-business’ being a term occasionally deployed to reference all manner of institutional responses to ‘madness’). Setting the stage with the largely non-institutional experience of ‘madness’ in Medieval/Early Modern England and Wales, I reconstructed the origins of a more systematic (although never all-encompassing) institutionalisation of ‘madness’ following legislation of the early-1700s which directed local Justices to confine ‘dangerous lunatics’ in ‘secure places’. Initially meaning a chaotic mixture of gaols, houses of correction and poorhouses, such spaces ultimately proved incapable of holding the ‘mad’. Private madhouses – profiteering on the back of these unfortunates – sprang up, partly to cater for ‘rich lunatics’ but sometimes to service parochial authorities, but they proved equally problematic. Parliamentary inquiries from the later-1700s into the early-1800s continually exposed the deficiencies of these institutional responses, and – inspired by the few charitable lunatic hospitals which had arisen in urban centres during the 1700s – the British government eventually passed a series of acts (from 1808 to 1845) which enabled, then compelled, county magistracies to open state-funded and –inspected public county lunatic asylums for their ‘pauper lunatic charges’. Mentally unwell individuals could still be found elsewhere, but gradually the public asylums, these forerunners of the mental/psychiatric hospitals which began to close from the 1960s onwards, became the dominant institutional presence within the ‘mad-business’. They peppered the landscapes of England and Wales, a familiar if somewhat fearful sight, often found just ‘out-of-town’ in relative rural seclusion, set back amongst fields, woodland and rolling hillsides, but sometimes more remotely located on/in distant valleys, heaths and hill-tops.

There is an extraordinary ‘spatial history’ to recall of these diverse spaces comprising the English and Welsh ‘mad-business’, crossing many centuries and with numerous regional inflections, and (foolishly) I set myself the task of recovering as many chapters of this history as I could manage. Drawing upon well-known archival sources in the Parliamentary Blue Books, notably the various Select Committees and Reports from the Commissioners in Lunacy, but also a wealth of printed and manuscript sources less familiar to historians of psychiatry, I assembled this ‘spatial history’ from the Dark Ages to the 1860s (when the public asylum system had properly matured). Borrowing too from other authors and their theoretical positions, notably Michel Foucault, I nurtured an interpretative framework that viewed the rise of asylum spaces as the installing of soft ‘social control’ – wherein windows were as important as walls, grounds as gates, fresh air as restraint, visits as solitude – and accepting that the undeniable inadequacies and brutalities of asylum life were largely unintended consequences of usually quite humane expert policies and plans. In 2004, I published my complete findings in a c.700 page monograph, The Geographical History of Institutional Provision for the Insane from the Medieval Period to the 1860s in England and Wales (Edwin Mellen Press), with a subtitle (originally intended as the main title) borrowed from Foucault, ‘The Space Reserved for Insanity’.


In so doing, I helped to pioneer this subfield of inquiry into the historical geography of ‘madness’ or mental ill-health, insofar as it has involved sustained archival labour in concert with theoretical reflection. More recently, I have continued to work on asylum-related topics, including attention to: animals, ‘madness’ and asylums; patient artwork and physician analyses; immobilities in the asylum; ‘idiot’ asylums (for people now identified with learning disabilities); deinstitutional and community care experiences for people with mental health problems living in remote rural locations; links with psychoanalytic and psychotherapeutic geographies; and broader coordinates of ‘Reason’ and ‘Unreason’. Since the mid-2000s I have also been fortunate enough to recruit a wonderful series of postgraduate students who have themselves become innovative investigators into the histories and historical geographies of ‘madness’, asylums and psychiatry in Scotland.  Some of their contributions can be found in the posts on this blog.