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Personal profile


I joined Manchester in 2015 as a Lecturer in Human Geography (promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2019). My research is primarily concerned with social and spatial inequalities. In particular my work attends to geographies of creativity and difference, with especial interest in faith and religion, gender, 'race' and culture.

I currently hold a Parliamentary Research Fellowship with the Heritage Collections, UK Parliament. I am collaborating with the Heritage Collections Team on the project, Our Parliamentary Art Collection: New Directions for Audiences, Interpretation, and Social Justice. It is supported by an ESRCIAA grant.

From October 2017 I was awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellowship (2017- extended to 2021). For this award, I am leading a programme of research for the project: Geographies of Muslim Women and the UK Cultural and Creative Economy (AKA 'CreativeMuslimWomenUK'). Related to this research, I was awarded best paper and presentation by the Nordic Geographers' Meeting held in Stockholm in 2017, for  “Placing faith in creative labour: work-based activism of Muslim women in the UK cultural and creative economy” in the session Cultural Production Within, Against and Beyond Inequalities. I co-curated a major research-led exhibition, Beyond Faith: Muslim Women Artists Today at The Whitworth (June 2019- February 2020; 200,000 visitors), and spoke as invited academic contributor with artist Usarae Gul on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Allowed. Films produced for the exhibition are available to view here. Together with Jana Wendler and The Whitworth, I received a Making a Difference Award 2020 for Social Responsibility by the University of Manchester for 'Outstanding Public and Community Engagement Initiative'. A monograph on the wider research project is forthcoming with Edinburgh University Press (published May 2022). For more on this research and related news see: http://www.creativemuslimwomen.manchester.ac.uk/

Prior to taking my current post, I held the position of Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham. During my time at Birmingham I worked on a flagship multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral AHRC-funded research project, Cultural Intermediation: Connecting Communities in the Creative Urban Economy (PI: Phil Jones). I was further Principle Investigator on a Communities and Culture Network+/EPSRC project, Birmingham Surrealist Laboratory.

Practice is an important aspect of my research. To date I have curated exhibitions at Henry Moore Institute, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Stanley Picker Gallery, the Royal Geographical Society and The Whitworth.

My research and consultancy has been funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Collections Trust, Arts Connect, and UKRI (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council).

I have peer reviewed widely for high profile international journals in Geography and cognate disciplines, including: Progress in Human GeographyAntipode, Cultural Geographies, Social and Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, Area, International Journal of Heritage Studies, International Journal of Qualitative Methods, Cultural Trends. I have also widely reviewed funding applications, including for the Irish Research Council. I am a nominated, appointed, and serving member of the AHRC Peer Review College (2019-24).

The research I undertake on issues of inequality and diversity informs my adminstration roles including acting as Geography lead for Athena Swan, SEED, University of Manchester (awarded Bronze 2018), and my previous role on the committee for Athena Swan, GEES, University of Birmingham (awarded Bronze 2014). I become a fellow of Higher Education Academy in 2017. I am currently co-Director of the Cities, Politics and Economies Research Group (with Cristina Temenos) and Director of the BA/BSc Geography with International Year Abroad. I am on the board of Manchester Urban Institute, University of Manchester, and Public Art Agency, Birmingham. 


Ph.D. Cultural Geography, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield/Audiences Yorkshire (AHRC CDA funded)

MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds (AHRC Funded)

BA (Hons), English Literature and Language, University of Oxford  

Research interests

I am primarily a cultural geographer. My research interests can be divided into three main themes as detailed below. 

Creative Urban Economies and Ecologies

I am interested in the professional and everyday creative economies and ecologies of cities. Currently I am working on the intersections of cultural production with social difference in the sub-sectors of visual art, fashion and media. In this research I focus on Muslim women’s work-lives in Britain (AHRC Leadership Fellow 2017-2021). My previous research has investigated issues of power and the socio-spatial periphery looking at cultural intermediation and marginalised communities in Greater Manchester and Birmingham and the neglected linkages between Birmingham and the Surrealist Art Movement. 

Muslim Identities, Islamophobia and Mobilities

My research has focused on the negotiation of Muslimness and womanhood in public and private spaces in Britain. I am especially interested in the use of creativity and activism in order to challenge patriarchalism and whiteness. I have contributed to the Citizens UK Commission on Islam, Participation & Public Life, chaired by Dominic Grieve QC MP, and consultation by the Muslim Council for the Britain All-Party Parliamentary Group on the definition of Islamophobia. My work in this area is underpinned by a wider commitment to draw attention towards how forms of social and economic exclusion are spatialised, and how discrimination and axes of difference can influence life outcomes, with focus on education and labour. I have further published on anti-Muslim acts, mobilities and the epistemic politics of fieldwork.

Culture, Co-production and Curating

I have a long-standing interest in art geographies particularly in relation to audiencing and co-production. I have contributed to understanding on volunteering and place-making, austerity, feminist and post-colonial curatorial praxis, in partnership with a number of leading museums and art galleries. I have collaborated with the artist Simon Pope and art group Public Art Agency.

I also have cross-cutting interests in qualitative and arts-based methods, publishing on walking interviews and activity diary-keeping.

Other research

ESRC Our Parliamentary Art Collection: New Directions for Audiences, Interpretation and Justice

This project advances the current remit of investigating the role of artworks in the Parliamentary Art Collection for audiences’ reception. It delivers this by: i) exploring the history and socio-spatial architecture of Parliament, and Parliamentary Art Collection, to ii) contextually ground understanding of audience reception and interpretation of the artworks within the distinctive heritage space of Parliament. It will consider how other comparable institutions, such as palace collections internationally, engage with issues relating to equality and diversity in their interpretation, collections, and audience development. In particular, drawing together audience insights, the project will further understanding of how religion and faith, ethnicity and gender come together to transform interpretation of the collection. There is an under-representation of minority ethnic and women artists in the Parliamentary Art Collection, as elsewhere in art collections. The Parliamentary Art Collection offers an ideal space to consider the visual representation of power and democracy. Attending to critical, timely questions of  inequality and justice in relation to collections and issues of display, this project explores how stories are told about art works, who visits, and meaning-making.

AHRC Leadership Fellow, Geographies of Muslim Women and the UK Cultural and Creative Economy

This Fellowship will be used to develop a project on the role of Muslim women in spaces of the UK cultural and creative economy, with focus on their engagement and leadership in i) digital media, ii) fashion, and iii) art galleries. Overall it will provide an assessment on the interplay of faith and gender as social markers that impact upon pathways into and performance of creative labour, which has received relatively little attention. In so doing, it will develop innovative research on Muslim women and creative labour, and evaluate whether faith-specific support is necessary to further diversify and enrich the sector. 

Pluralising cultural education: co-creating new communities of practice in museums, archives and collections AHRC The Commons Funded Workshop; 

This workshop co-organised with Dr Anna Goulding, Sociology, University of Manchester, brings together a mixed community of researchers and practitioners who have performed collaborative research with ethnic minority groups in any aspect of the rich and wide-ranging area of cultural education. In particular the workshop aims to explore the intersections of cultural education with social difference e.g ethnicity, race, class, gender and faith. Speakers include representatives from the People's History Museum and Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Muslim women creative producers and the UK Cultural and Creative Economy: University of Manchester RSIF funded;

This project explores the work of Muslim women creative producers in the fast-growing UK Muslim marketplace, with focus on their substantive roles in the sub-sectors of fashion and digital. This research investigates the importance of faith, ethnicity and gender as social markers that impact upon pathways into and performance of Muslim creative labour, considering: beliefs, values and styles; experiences of distinct social pressures and enabling factors, such as mentors and support networks. 

Birmingham Surrealist LaboratoryFunded by the Communities and Culture Network+.

This experimental research project represents the first stage in an ongoing study that investigates religion, cultural diversity and the avant-garde. It uncovered the under-studied history of the Birmingham Surrealist Group (1930s-1950s), and its legacy in the area in which Conroy Maddox convened the artists and their creative milieau. The methodology explored the ways in which new multi-touch facilities can help unlock the meanings of surrealism and its heritage in Birmingham. The project delivered inter-faith workshops, and a significant inter-disciplinary symposium at The Barber Institute, Birmingham.

Cultural Intermediation and the creative urban economy: AHRC Connected Communities Funded:

Working with Dr Phil Jones (University of Birmingham), Dr Beth Perry (Salford University) and Professor Paul Long (Birmingham City University), alongside a wider multi-disciplinary team, on this flagship AHRC Connected Communities project comparing Manchester and Birmingham. Leading the research for Birmingham involved conducting qualitative research with policy-makers, cultural professionals including artists, community and civic organisations and local residents to frame changing governance and dynamics of intermediation in a second-tier creative city. In particular I worked closely in south Birmingham in the area of Balsall Heath with ESOL learners to develop understanding of everyday forms of cultural participation - and multiple forms of social, cultural, religious and economic exclusion.

Audiencing artscapes: encounters between art and audience at Yorkshire Sculpture Park: AHRC CASE Studentship:

My doctoral research tailored a combination of qualitative methods – archival, visual and ethnographic - to different typologies of audiences (workers, local residents, visitors, volunteers), in an exploration of the meaning and value of art in different people’s lives. The notion of ‘audiencing’ (Fiske 1993) was appropriated to an arts context, whereby audiencing informs cultural production and consumption, and the development of art, landscape and a cultural institution. Contributions are made to rural creative place-making and embodied philanthropy, amongst other areas of geography-art knowledge


I welcome supervising students who are interested in applying directly for a PhD or '1+3' (combined Master's and PhD funding). 

Current and past projects I have supervised:

Sebastian Baeza Playing games with the south?: Global Production Networks and video games production in Chile; Funded by CONICYT Becas Chile, number 72170427 (completed)

Graeme Moore The social capital outcomes of festival collaborations: The case of Liverpool LightNight'; Funded by the SEED Postgraduate Research Scholarship (completed)

Amy Mulvenna 'Playing with Place': Everyday Matterings and Urban Materialities, Towards Creative Carto-ethnographies of Belfast. Funded by the SEED Postgraduate Research Scholarship (completed)

Ellis Fannin, 'Queering cartographic epistemologies through multi-sensory and arts-based participatory mapping: Imagining queer utopia(s)' Funded by the ESRC (3 years beginning September 2020)

Haoyue Guo, 'Exploring the Impact of Artistic Place-making Practices for Rural-urban Migrant Children’s Sense of Belonging and Place Attachment in China’s Urban Villages in Shenzhen' (3 years beginning September 2021)

Olga Chumicheva, Re-theorising social justice in cultural policies and museum practices in the context of Eurasian cities’ Funded by the SEED Postgraduate Research Scholarship (Beginning September 2022)

Manon Burbidge, 'Hostile Environments: Understanding drivers and experiences of energy deprivation amongst refugee communities in England' Funded by CREDS (Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions)(Beginning September 2022)

Asia Ali, 'Bridging the Gap: Exploring emergent relationships between morality, ethics, social identity and sustainability in Britain's growing modest fashion industry' School Funded (Beginning September 2023)

Shuying Du, 'Towards a new model of Chinese art township construction in rural revitalization policy? Analysing reverse urbanization and the Remodelling of Place and Cultural Heritage in China’s countryside' (Beginning September 2023)


I would welcome prospective PhD applicants with an excellent track record and shared research interests. For example project proposals might look at: migration and mobilities; inequalities in the Cultural and Creative Industries; Muslim women and young people; geographies of museums and art galleries; Cultural policy, social justice and Equality, Diversity, Inclusion (EDI).

You can contact me on: Saskia.Warren@Manchester.ac.uk


Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

2020/2021 Outstanding Staff Awards: Nomination for Outstanding Academic Advisor Award in the Faculty of Humanities

2020/21 GEOG32032 & GEOG72032 Migration, Conflict and Social Change

2016/17 GEOG10432 Introducing Human Geographies 2 Course Leader

2016/7 GEOG20072 Research Design and Overseas Fieldcourses Lecturer

2016/17 GEOG12011 Tutorials and Book Review Course Leader

2016/17 GEOG12012 Tutorials and Profile of a Research Geographer Course Leader

2016/17GEOG20621 Skills for Geographers Lecturer

2016/17 GEOG21311 Creative Geographies Course Leader

2016/17 GEOG30000 Dissertation Lecturer

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 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Urban Institute


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