Noel Castree

Noel Castree


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I have wide interests in people-environment relationships and have supervised a number of different doctoral projects. These range from seed saving networks to surrogate mothering to native vegetation management. At the present time, I am especially interested in expert bodies and how they represent issues of global environmental change (causes, impacts and responses).

Personal profile


Postgraduate Opportunities

I welcome inquiries from well qualified, independent minded graduates from a range of social science or humanities backgrounds. Possession of a Geography degree is not strictly necessary. I am cosupervising, or have supervised, the following:

Ana Lambert 'Boundary organisations and the Amazon Basin: scaling and disclosing the 'human dimensions' of Earth System change' (SEED funded, 2020-23).

Candice Delaney 'Ecological restoration after bushfire catastrophe: private and public lands in New South Wales' (University of Technology Sydney funded, 2019-24).

Gizem Grunberg 'The roll back of nature conservation measures in neoliberal Turkey' (SEED funded, 2018-23).

Matt McMullen (BA Hons Manchester) 'Rewilding Scotland's highlands' (ESRC funded, 2014-18).

Sophie Lewis (BA, MSc, Oxford) 'Rethinking work, gender and labour: more-than-capitalist agency in commerical surrogacy' (ESRC-funded, 2013-16).

Daniel Banoub (MA, York) 'The political economy of fish farming in Newfoundland and Labrador' (Memorial University funded, 2012-15).

Craig Thomas (MSc, Manchester) 'Fracking, place and civic protest in contemporary Britain' (SEED-funded, 2011-18).

Laura Pottinger (MA, Manchester) 'The moral economy of seed saving in England' (SEED-funded 2010-16).

Tomas Fredericksen (MA, Manchester) 'The political ecology of mining in Zambia' (Marie Curie funded, 2006-10).

Jason Beery (MA, Penn State) 'The production of outer space' (SED-funded, 2007-11).

Miranda Morgan (MSc, Oxford) 'Woman, public protest and land use change in rural Indonesia' (Brooks World Poverty Institute funded, 2007-11).

David Lier (MA, Oslo) 'Social movement unionism as a strategy to counter cost-recovery reforms in South Africa' (SED and ORS funded 2005-8).

Lisa Ficklin (MSc, Bath). The Political Ecology of Environmental Crisis: 'Neoliberalising Nature and Political Identity in Nicaragua' (part-time, SED-funded 2005-12).

Ramon Ribera (MA, Manchester) 'Urban revanchism and the commodification of culture' (Manchester University funded 2001-04).

Further information

Administrative experience

At the University of Manchester (2000-14)

  • Director of Postgraduate Studies (School of Geography), 2000-04.
  • Member of Faculty of Arts Graduate Committee, 2000-04.
  • Director of Postgraduate Research (School of Environment and Development), 2004-7.
  • Member of Faculty of Humanities PGRC, 2004-07.
  • Acting Head of Geography (2010); member of Senate and University Academic Misconduct Committee, 2010-12.
  • School Research Director (2010-12).

At the University of Wollongong, Australia (2015-17)

  • Vice Dean (Research), Faculty of Social Science
  • Director, Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER)

At the University of Manchester (2017-20)

  • Director of Research, School of Environment, Education & Development (SEED)

Wider professional service (1998-)

  • Member of editorial advisory board of Environment and Planning A, 1998-2012.
  • Treasurer of the History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group, 1998-06.
  • Member of editorial board of Antipode, 1999-03.
  • Member of Research Committee of RGS-IBG, 1999-01.
  • Member of RGS-IBG Research Grants Committee, 1999-02.
  • External examiner for MA in Environmental Management, Nottingham University, 2000-03.
  • Editor, Antipode Book Series, Blackwell Publishers: London and New York, 2001-09.
  • Member of Geoforum editorial board, 1999-2012.
  • Editor of Antipode (2004-09) and Progress in Human Geography, 2003-.
  • External examiner for the MSc in Environment and Society, Oxford University, 2003-06.
  • External examiner of MA in Human Geography, Sheffield University; MSc in Environment, Science and Society, UCL, 2005-08.
  • Chair of the Annual RGS-IBG conference, 2008.
  • Member of  Professional Geographer editorial board, 2007-11; member of the AAAG ed. board 2007-12.
  • Editorial board member of Environment & Society, 2009- and the TIBG, 2013-16.
  • External examiner for BA in Human Geography, Queen Mary College, University of London, 2011-14; and for the MA in Globalisation & Development, Liverpool University 2010-14.
  • Member of the Research Evaluation Framework (REF) sub-panel 17, 2011-13.
  • Author of report on 'Society-environment research, 2000-10' for the ESRC-AHRC Benchmark Review of British human geography, 2012.
  • Human geography external reviewer of Bristol University School of Geographical Sciences, 2012.
  • External examiner for BA Geography programme, Loughborough University, 2017-19.
  • Member, Publications Committee, Association of American Geographers, 2017-19.
  • Coeditor, Key Ideas in Geography book series, Routledge (2016-24).
  • Member, editorial advisory board, AAAG, 2020-23, and associate editor AAG Review of Books (2020-23)
  • External examiner, BA Geography programme, Loughborough University (2017-21)
  • External assessor for School of Environment 10 year review, University of Auckland, 2021.
  • Founding editor, Environment and Planning F: Philosophy, Theory, Models, Methods & Practice (Sage publishers), 2022.

Further information

Awards and Distinctions

1993: Governor General of Canada's Gold Medal (for highest MA marks, any discipline), University of British Columbia.
1993-5: Isaak Walton Killam Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, University of British Columbia.
2001: Ashby Prize (for best published paper of 2000 in Environment and Planning A).
2005: Gill Memorial Award (awarded by the Royal Geographical Society for 'contributions to furthering the understanding of society-environment relationships').
2008: Chair (by nomination) of the annual conference of the RGS-IBG.
2012-: Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

2020: Taylor & Francis Lifetime Achievement Award for "producing a high quality and influential body of scholarship across two decades"

Further information

Recent presentations

2022: 'Anthropocene time-space'. Presentation at a workshop about Dipesh Chakrabarty's (2021) The Climate of History, University of Technology Sydney, December.

2021: 'Who should speak for the Earth?', Andrew Jakubowicz Annual Lecture, University of Technology Sydney.

2019: 'The future of global environmental assessment'. Keynote given as annual Institute of Political Economy lecture, Sheffield University and as a research seminar at the University of Wollongong.

2018:  ‘Transforming expertise: global change science and the politics of knowledge’. Keynote lecture at the annual conference of German Geography, Heidelberg, January.

2017:   ‘Transforming expertise: global change science and the politics of knowledge’. Keynote lecture at the ‘Ecological challenges’ conference, Oslo February.

2016:   ‘Global change research and its ‘human dimensions’: from critique to action’. Lund University, Faculty of Social Science Lecture.

2015:   ‘The environmental humanities and global change research: actualities and possibilities’. Stockholm Archipelago Lecture KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory, Stockholm.

2015:   ‘Geography and the new social contract for global change research’. Transactions  of the Institute of British Geographers lecture, given at the RGS– IBG conference, Exeter.

2015:   Presenter in the Geography and global change science:new directions for the social sciences and humanities’ sessionand invited panellist in the ‘Critical physical geography’ session, AAG conference, Chicago.

2014:   ‘Unfree radicals? Geoscientists, critique and the politics of knowledge’. Presentation given at the ‘Constructing and confront environmental crisis’ conference, Dept. of Geography, University of Melbourne.

2014:   ‘Geographers and the Anthropocene: new narratives for new practices’.*Seminar given to the School of Environment and New Zealand Geographical Society as part of a 4 day visit to the University of Auckland as a Visiting Professor of Geography.

2013: 'Four thoughts on foresight'. Presentation in opening  plenary session of the RSG-IBG annual conference, London.

2013: 'Representing the Anthropocene: who will speak for everything, and how?'. Jonathan Murdoch Memorial Lecture, Cardiff University.


Noel Castree

BA Oxford, MA, PhD British Columbia

I am a graduate of Oxford University (First Class Honours) and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. I came to Manchester University in 2000, when appointed as a Reader in the then School of Geography. Prior to that I spent 5 years as a Lecturer in Human Geography at Liverpool University, my first academic position. I was promoted to the rank of Professor at Manchester in 2004. I later spent 3 years at the University of Wollongong, in Australia, returning to Manchester in late 2017. Though ostensibly a human geographer, I am committed to the idea that geographic research and teaching should utilise the insights and tools of social science, the humanities and the physical sciences. This means that I take inspiration not only from geographers but also from philosophers, sociologists, geologists, ecologists, historians and many others. In recent years my research and teaching interests have focussed on human impacts on the global environment and how they are framed in different bodies of expert discourse. As part of this I have joined the chorus of people writing at length about the Anthropocene.

Research interests

My principal research interest was in the political economy of environmental change, but in recent years has moved towards the politics of representation as they pertain to the future of the Earth (in the domains of science, civil society and government). The two are, of course, connected insofar as political economy structures whose representations gain visibility and traction in the places that matter.

Drawing upon Marxist theory, in the past I made some (very modest) contributions to ongoing debates about the ecolological implications of the capitalist way of life. These contributions related to the process of commodifying nature and the neoliberalisation of environmental governance. More broadly, I've sought to shape thinking about society-environment relations through my coedited books Remaking Reality (1998) and Social Nature (2001). These books tried take seriously the 'materiality' of the biophysical world, while conceding the power of 'social constructionist' perspectives on nature and environment (both biophysically and discursively).

A later book, simply called Nature (2005), was an attempt to show how geography as an academic subject has been profoundly shaped by geographers' diverse attempts to make sense of the non-human world. It further suggested that Geography, far from simply disclosing 'truths' about nature out there, is part of a much wider social process in which various 'epistemic workers' seek to shape public understandings of the world by utilising their credentials. Building-out from this, a decade ago I wrote a cross-disciplinary book about how the topic of 'nature' is a very important vehicle used by all manner of thought-shapers - from journalists to artists - to govern the ideas, feelings and actions of ordinary people. It was called Making Sense of Nature (Routledge, 2014).

'Nature' aside, I also have had a fascination with the other 'big concepts' that help to define geography as a subject but which also, increasing, preoccupy those in the wider social sciences and humanities. These concepts all have relevance to everyday life, and are not merely 'academic'. I've authored programmatic pieces on 'place', 'space-time' and 'scale', and this is linked to my enduring interest in what 'added value' one gets from taking a geographical perspective on the world.

Using Marxist theory once more, and again focussing on capitalism, early in my career I wrote about wage work and paid employment from a geographical perspective wearing the hat of a 'labour geographer'. This was once my second main research interest, and found expression in the coauthored book Spaces of work (2004) and several published essays. When I say 'second' I don't mean 'separate': Marxism obliges any analyst to seek out relations and connections between ostensibly different things.

Talking of holistic thinking, the writings of David Harvey have long given me wonderful food for thought. Like many others, I've engaged with Harvey's work critically in a string of essays going back 20 years, and coedited David Harvey: A Critical Reader back in 2006. I have recently been lead authr of a book about Harvey's life-work as he nears his 90th year. It's called David Harvey: A Critical Introduction to His Thought and has been published by Routledge at the end of 2022.

Finally, I've sought to think critically but constructively about the institutional site that permits and proscribes my academic activities: the university. My most complete statement here can be found in a now old and little-read essay in The knowledge business, edited by Rob Imrie and Chris Allen (2010). Another appeared in an appreciative essay about Neil Smith's life and work, published in Antipode (in 2017).

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

Professorial Research Fellow, University of Wollongong

1 Nov 201830 Oct 2021

Areas of expertise

  • G Geography (General)


Dive into the research topics where Noel Castree is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or