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Dr Sarah Hughes

Assistant Professor

Department: Geography and Environmental Sciences

I am an Assistant Professor in Human Geography. Prior to this position I held a Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellowship at Northumbria University (2019-2022), and an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2018-2019) and Political Geography Teaching Fellowship (2017-2018) in the Geography Department at Durham University.


I am a Political Geographer, working on asylum politics, resistance, citizenship and the politics of epistemology within the academy. My work to date has coalesced around three main themes: 


1. Geographies of resistance.

I am interested in how resistance is conceptualized within Geography. My work has explored how understandings of resistance within Geography are often characterised by a predetermination of form that particular actions or actors must assume to constitute resistance. Asking what we risk ignoring if we only focus on predetermined, recognisable resistant forms, my work seeks to revisit some of the fundamental assumptions (of intention, linearity and opposition) that underpin accounts of resistance. What are the logics that have come to govern how resistance is framed? What are the implications of decentering these logics for how Geographers engage with resistance? How/can Geographers engage with resistance in ‘its’ emergence? 


2. Geographies of forced migration.

I have a longstanding interest in how systems of asylum governance are lived, experienced and resisted. To this end, I work with third sector organisations in the UK who, in different ways, support forced migrants in detention centres, dispersal accommodation and those who recently have been granted leave to remain.

I have recently finished a British Academy Small Grant (2021-2023): Bridging The Gap: The Lived Experiences of Refugees Granted Leave to Remain. You can read about this work in my research report or in The Conversation, or The New European.


3. Geographies of knowledge production.

My focus upon the geographies of knowledge production, has included pursuing questions around resistance, knowledge production and what constitutes ‘the political.' This has involved interdisciplinary work on Obfuscated democracy focussing upon the relationship between whistle-blowers, FOIA and knowledge production within the academy. I have also explored Affect and the politics of memory, and took part in collective research on affect and the politics of memory at the ten-year anniversary of the London bombings.

I have worked on Countermapping Detention, a collaborative project responding to the US government’s decicion to reschedule archival records from detention centres. As part of this work, we submitted written evidence to National Archive and Records Administration (NARA), concerning the pending decision to stop archiving this data. 


Selected Publications


Journal Articles

Mason, O. and Hughes, S M., (2024) A Cultural Geopolitics of Hosting: Domesticity, Violence and Hospitality in the Home, Geopolitics,  Online First10.1080/14650045.2024.2316660

Griffiths, M., Hughes, S M., Mason, O., Nassar, A. and Currie, N.P. (2024), An open letter to the SJTG and the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG): The War on Gaza, the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), and a Palestinian literary event. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 45: 6-17.

Hughes, S M. and Martin, L L. (2022) Documenting Detention: The Politics of Archiving Immigration Enforcement Records in the United States’ National Archives and Records Administration. The Professional Geographer. 74(3): 415-429.

Hughes, S M. (2022) (In)coherent subjects? The politics of conceptualising resistance in the UK asylum system. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. 40(2): 541-560

Hughes, S M. (2021) Mobile resistances: Tracing a genealogy of dissent. Response to Gopal, Priyamvada. Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent. Dialogues in Human Geography. 11(3):497-499.

Hughes, S M. (2021) "Wait for a permanent contract" The temporal politics of (in)fertility as an Early Career Researcher. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. 39(8):1725-1736.

Hughes, S M. (2020) On Resistance within Human Geography. Progress in Human Geography. 44 (6): 1141-1160.

Garnett, P and Hughes, S. M. (2019) Obfuscated Democracy? Chelsea Manning and the politics of knowledge curation. Political Geography. 68: 23-33

Maestri, G and Hughes, S. M. (2017) Guest Editor’s Introduction to Special Issue. Contested Spaces of Citizenship: Camps, Borders and Urban Encounters. Citizenship Studies 21 (6): 625-639

Hughes, S. M. and Forman, P. (2017) A Material Politics of Citizenship: The potential of circulating materials from UK Immigration Removal Centres. Citizenship Studies 21 (6): 675-692

Closs Stephens, A, Hughes, S. M., Schofield, V. & Sumartojo, S. (2017) Atmospheric Memories: Affect and minor politics at the ten-year anniversary of the London bombings. Emotion, Space and Society. 23:44-51.

Hughes, S. M. (2016) Beyond intentionality: exploring creativity and resistance within a UK Immigration Removal Centre. Citizenship Studies. 20:427-443.


Edited Books

Hughes, SM. (2023) Critical Geographies of Resistance. Edward Elgar Publishing: Cheltenham.


Book Chapters

Fisher, DX. and Hughes, SM. (2023). The material politics of asylum support: Speed, intimacy, and confusion. In Le Louvier, K & Hough, KL (eds) UK Borderscapes: Sites of Enforcement and Resistance. Routledge: London.

Hughes, S M. and Garnett P. (2020) Researching the emergent technologies of state control: The court-martial of Chelsea Manning. In de Goede, M., Palister-Wilkins, P and Bosma, E (eds) Routledge Method’s textbook: Secrecy and Methodology in Critical Security Research. Routledge: London.

Garnett, P and Hughes, S M. (2020) Obfuscated democracy? Chelsea Manning and the politics of democratic knowledge curation. In Macnish, K and Galliott, J’s (eds) Big Data and the Democratic Process. Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh

Hughes, S, M. (2019) Resistance. In Kobayashi, A and Tyner, J (eds) International Encyclopaedia of Human Geography. Elsevier. London.


Book Reviews

Hughes, S. M. (2020) “Handbook on Critical Geographies of Migration” edited by Katharyne Mitchell, Reece Jones, and Jennifer L. Fluri. Border Criminologies. 

Hughes, S. M. (2019) Book Review “After the flight: The Dynamics of Refugee Settlement and Integration. Edited by Poteet, M. and Nourpanah, S. Cambridge Publishers” Journal of Refugee Studies. 32 (1): 169–171.

Hughes, S. M. (2018) “Challenging Immigration Detention” edited by Michael J. Flynn and Matthew B. Flynn. (Edward Elgar, 2017). Border Criminologies. 

Hughes, S. M. (2017) “Detaining the Immigrant Other: Global and Transnational Issues.” Edited by Rich Furman, Douglas Epps and Greg Lamphear, (Oxford University Press, 2016) Carceral Geography Working Group of the RGS with IBG. 

Hughes, S. M. (2016) “Nothing Personal?: Geographies of Governing and Activism in the British Asylum System” by Nick Gill (John Wiley & Sons, 2016). Border Criminologies. 


Public Commentaries 

Hughes, S M. (2023) ‘When you get status the struggle doesn’t end’ The Conversation.

Hughes, S M. (2023). What it’s like to be a new refugee in the UK. The New European. 

Hughes, S M. (2021) Guest pannelist for International Women's Day [UCU Podcast] 

Hughes, S. M and Garnett, P. (2018) Obfuscated democracy? Chelsea Manning, and the challenges of working with (de)classified materials. Society and Space [Online].

Hughes, S. M (2016) Border Control: Reflections on Artwork in Spaces of Incarceration. Border Criminologies. 

Hughes, S. M (2016) “I don’t know you and you don’t know me… but we are listening”: Reflections on a community exchange project. Music in Detention. 

Hughes, S. M (2016) Creativity and Resistance within UK Immigration Removal CentresBorder Criminologies. 



This academic year (2023-2024), I am teaching on the following modules:

  • KE5005: Approaches to Research in Human Geography (Module Convener)
  • KE5006: P/political Geographies
  • KE7010: Housing and Health
  • KE7048: Sustainable Development International Fieldtrip



2021. British Academy Small Grant (£9388.50)

2018. NINEDTP ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (£43218)

2017. Overseas Institutional Visit with Prof. Alison Mountz (ESRC, £3250)

2016. Postgraduate Conference Funding (Durham Geography, £500)

2014. Trevelyan College Research Travel Bursary (£500)

2013. ESRC 1+3 Research Funding (£72754)

2009. Vice Chancellor's Award for Academic Excellence (£2000)


I am currently treasurer of the Gender and Feminist Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society (2021-2023)

Sarah Hughes

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • A Cultural Geopolitics of Hosting: Domesticity, Violence and Hospitality in the Home, Mason, O., Hughes, S. 24 Feb 2024, In: Geopolitics
  • An open letter to the SJTG and the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG): The War on Gaza, the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), and a Palestinian literary event, Griffiths, M., Hughes, S., Mason, O., Nassar, A., Currie, N. Jan 2024, In: Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography
  • Critical Geographies of Resistance, Hughes, S. 20 Aug 2023
  • Introduction to critical geographies of resistance, Hughes, S. 17 Aug 2023, Critical Geographies of Resistance, Cheltenham, UK, Edward Elgar
  • The material politics of asylum support: Speed, intimacy, and confusion, Fisher, D., Hughes, S. 4 Sep 2023, UK Borderscapes, London, Taylor & Francis
  • Documenting Detention: The Politics of Archiving Immigration Enforcement Records in the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Hughes, S., Martin, L. 3 Jul 2022, In: The Professional Geographer
  • (In)coherent subjects? The politics of conceptualising resistance in the UK asylum system, Hughes, S. 1 Mar 2022, In: Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space
  • Interventions in the political geographies of resistance: The contributions of Cindi Katz, 15 years on, Hughes, S., Murrey, A., Krishnan, S., van Teijlingen, K., Daley, P., Nowicki, M., Fannin, M., MacLeavy, J. Aug 2022, In: Political Geography
  • A Material Politics of Citizenship: The potential of circulating materials from UK immigration removal centres, Hughes, S., Forman, P. 18 Nov 2021, Material Politics of Citizenship, Abingdon-on-Thames, Taylor & Francis
  • Mobile resistances: Tracing a genealogy of dissent, Hughes, S. 1 Nov 2021, In: Dialogues in Human Geography

  • Bina Limbu Living with hazards: Everyday experiences of rural households in realatioin Nepal Start Date: 20/12/2022
  • Anish Chhibber A critical genealogy of radical antiracist resistances to policing and bordering: geographies of defence, care, and abolition in and through London 1960-Present Start Date: 18/01/2021

  • Geography PhD February 08 2018
  • Research Methods MA September 30 2014
  • Geography BA (Hons) July 31 2011
  • Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy FHEA

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