(Re)mapping (in)securities. Post-Brexit minority ethnic anxieties in Leeds: a topographical approach.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Sch of Geography


In the aftermath of the Brexit leave, anxiety about the future of UK society is high, with a majority of people (68%) recently agreeing with the statement, 'There is increasing tension between different groups living in Britain' (Hope Not Hate, 2017: 14). This anxiety is doubtless related to the reported 29% increase in national hate crime between March 2016 and March 2017. Against this backdrop, this studentship addresses a timely need for systematic research to investigate the socio-spatial dynamics of urban public space that contribute to, and counter, tension and hostility. Significantly, it focuses on a core problem faced by cities: how public spaces can contribute to and foster alternatives to intensified discord among individuals and communities.

This studentship will employ a mixed-methods participatory approach to investigate insecurities and counter-responses in urban public spaces in post-Brexit England. Specifically, it will use innovative mapping technologies to develop a topography and countertopography of the socio-spatial dynamics and correlates of xeno-racism in contemporary public spaces. Topography is a technology used in planning and military strategy, and as research methodology (predominantly in geography) that develops a detailed account of a place. Feminist scholar, Cindi Katz (2001) describes countertopography as a critical response to some of the problematic ways topography has been deployed. Countertopography redeploys topography's tools to re-envision space and foster responses to disharmony and inhospitality. How can (re)mapping space contribute to (re)forming positive social relations that acknowledge, but do not reject, 'difference'?
Objectives: 1) To map (via a topography) the socio-spatial dynamics linked to post-Brexit xeno-racism in urban public space(s). How does space feature in everyday experiences of incivility, aggression and hostility?
2) To identify and produce a counter-topography of socio-spatial features that contest xeno-racism in urban public spaces. How can a counter-topography encourage alternative forms of encounter with (and within) shared public space?
3) To critically develop and extend the interdisciplinary conceptualisation of the relationship between space and (in)security. How is space entangled with Brexit's immediate and emerging aftermaths? And how might space and its (re)mapping be part of a response to the anxiety and discord that has been a prominent part of these after-effects?


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000746/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2110875 Studentship ES/P000746/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2021 Michael Maxwell Thompson