Category Archives: Hester Parr

Introducing: Dr Hester Parr

Hester Parr is a Professor of Human Geography in the School of Geographical & Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, and can be contacted by email:, or twitter: @HesterParr


Post-asylum geographies

My work comprises nuanced representational geographies of mental health, which has deliberately facilitated the voices of people with significant mental health problems into academia. This has involved centring the perspectives and embodied experiences of a marginalised grouping in ways that disrupt assumptions about irrational and unreliable human subjects/subjectivity. This research agenda has been underlain by creative and participative research practice, effort that has also formed a research strand in its own right and is reflected in my writing (eg, Parr, 1998ab; 2001; 2002; 2007; 2014). Overall, the scholarly content of my work seeks to understand embodied and emotional geographies of vital human life as lived. I have made, and will continue to make, substantial efforts to address a range of social and spatial dimensions to the experience of adult mental health/problems. This research agenda represents no simplistic understanding of the relationship between mental health and society and space, but rather seeks to disrupt assumptions about rationalities, embodiment, biographies and inclusive places for different people. In elaborating this, I want to argue, firstly, that research on geographies of mental health is not regarded simply a specialist sub-area of the discipline, but instead comprises material that speaks across and to major disciplinary, empirical and theoretical concerns; and, secondly, that such work has a responsibility to matter to the people it involves, and, in so far as it is possible, this work should hence engage in relevant, participative practices which seek to challenge negative experiences of social and spatial exclusion.

Selected references:

Parr, H and Philo, C (1995) ‘Mapping mad identities,’ in Pile, S and Thrift N (eds) Mapping the Subject: Geographies of Cultural Transformation (Routledge, London), pp.199-225

Parr H (1997a) ‘Sane’ and ‘Insane’ Spaces: New Geographies of Deinstitutionalisation,University of Wales, Lampeter (unpublished PhD thesis).

Parr, H (1997b) ‘Mental health, public space and the city: questions of individual and collective access,’ Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 14, pp.435-454

Parr, H (1998a) ‘Mental health, the body and ethnography,’ Area 30, pp.28-37

Parr, H (1998b) ‘The politics of methodology in ‘post-medical geography’: mental health

Parr, H (1999a) ‘Bodies and psychiatric medicine: interpreting different geographies of mental health,’ in Butler, R and Parr, H (eds) Mind and Body Spaces: Geographies of Illness, Impairment and Disability (Routledge, London), pp.181-202

Parr, H (1999b) ‘Delusional geographies: the experiential worlds of people during madness and illness,’ Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 17, pp.673-690

Parr, H (2000) ‘Interpreting the ‘hidden social geographies’ of mental health: inclusion and exclusion in semi-institutional places,’ Health and Place 6, pp.225-237

Parr, H (2002) ‘Negotiating access in different ethnographic contexts and building geographical knowledges,’ in Dwyer, C and Limb, M (eds) Qualitative Methodologies for Geographers (Edward Arnold, London), pp.165-185

Parr, H. (2005a) ‘Workforce or workfare?’ Mental Health Today April 2005, 28-31.

Parr, H. (2005b) ‘Sustainable communities? Nature work and mental health’ Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture, 101, 6-9.

Parr, H. (2006a) ‘Mental health, the arts and belonging’. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 31(2), 150-166.

Parr, H. (2006b) Arts and Social Capital’ Mental Health Today June, 2006, 15-19.

Parr, H. (2007a) ‘Mental health, nature work, and social inclusion’ Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 25, 537-561.

Parr, H. (2007b) ‘Collaborative film-making as process, method and text in mental health research’. Cultural Geographies 14, 114-138.

Parr H and Stevenson O (2014) ‘’No news today’: witness talk with families of missing people’ cultural geographies doi: 10.1177/1474474014530962