Skip to main content
School of Geography

Professor Alison Blunt

Alison

Professor of Geography

Email: a.m.blunt@qmul.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 8437
Room Number: Geography Building, Room 209

Profile

Professor of Geography at Queen Mary University of London, Director of the AHRC London Arts and Humanities Partnership DTP, Vice-President (Research and Higher Education) of the Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers) and founding co-director of the Centre for Studies of Home, a partnership between Queen Mary and the Museum of the Home.

My research on home, migration and the city has been funded by the AHRC, ESRC and The Leverhulme Trust. I am PI on the project ‘Stay Home’: rethinking the domestic in the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-22 – Stay Home Stories), funded by AHRC as part of the UKRI rapid response to COVID-19. My books include Home (with Robyn Dowling, Routledge; second edition forthcoming) and Domicile and diaspora: Anglo-Indian women and the spatial politics of home (Wiley RGS-IBG Book Series, 2005). I was awarded the Gill Memorial Award from the RGS-IBG in 2002, a Philip Leverhulme Prize in 2003, and was appointed as an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2012. I serve as a cross-faculty elected member of Council at Queen Mary and vice-chair of governors at the Drapers’ Academy, which is co-sponsored by Queen Mary and the Drapers’ Company.

Key recent and forthcoming publications include:

Blunt, A. and Dowling, R. (forthcoming) Home (second edition). London: Routledge.

Blunt, A., Ebbensgaard, C. and Sheringham, O. (2021) "The living of time:" entangled temporalities of home and the city. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 46: 149-62 (published online 2020) https://doi.org/10.1111/tran.12405

Blunt, A. and Sheringham, O. (2019) 'Home-city geographies: urban dwelling and mobility.' Progress in Human Geography 43: 815-34 (published online 2018) https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0309132518786590

Sheringham, O., Platun, C., MacAvinchey, C. and Blunt, A. (2020) Globe’s encounters and the art of rolling: home, migration and belonging’ Cultural Geographies 27: 177-99 (published online 2019) https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1474474019879100 

Teaching

GEG6102 Geographies of Home

This module investigates geographies of home on scales ranging from the domestic to the global. It begins by tracing the celebration of home by humanistic geographers as a site of authentic meaning, value and experience, imbued with nostalgic memories and the love of a particular place. But humanistic geographers failed to analyse the home as an embodied space shaped by different and unequal relations of power and as a space that might be dangerous, violent and alienating rather than loving and secure. Feminist, postcolonial and anti-racist research reveals more complex and contested spaces of home and identity that are shaped by the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, class, age and religion. Key themes include:

  • Geographies of home on different scales. A key feature of research on home has been the ways in which it intersects different scales, as shown by research on the bungalow and the highrise as transnational domestic forms, research on the political significance of domesticity in anti-colonial nationalism, and the transnational employment of domestic workers.
  • Embodied geographies of home and identity: lived experiences and ideas of home as embodied, and the ways in which home can invoke a sense of place, belonging or alienation that are intimately tied to a sense of self.
  • Feminist, postcolonial and anti-racist geographies of home: the spatial politics of home, with a particular focus on feminist, postcolonial and anti-racist research on the home as a site of inclusion, exclusion and contestation.
  • Material and imaginative geographies of home: material, textual and visual cultures of home, including a visit to the Museum of the Home.

Research

Research Interests:

Alison is founding co-director of the Centre for Studies of Home, a partnership between Queen Mary and the Museum of the Home. Through a £2M programme of research funded by AHRC, ESRC, The Leverhulme Trust and Queen Mary, CSH has pioneered a socially, spatially and temporally expanded understanding of home; developed an intellectual framework for understanding domestic practice and personal meanings of home; and produced new knowledge about home in East London.

Since 2011, CSH has had 13 funded PhD students (including eight on the AHRC CDA programmes 'Home-work: connections and transitions in London from the seventeenth century to the present' and 'Home and religion: space, practice and community in London from the seventeenth century to the present'), nine postdoctoral assistants and fellows (including three Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellows: Richard Baxter, Azeezat Johnson and Casper Laing Ebbensgaard) and three artists-in-residence (Janetka Platun, Nadege Meriau and Alaa Alsaraji).

Over its first ten years, research at CSH has focused on home and work; home and religion; high-rise homes and gentrification; home, migration and the city; teenage bedrooms; and home histories. See public engagement for more on the centre's collaborative outputs.

Funded by the AHRC as part of the UKRI rapid response to COVID-19, Stay Home Stories ('Stay home': rethinking the domestic during the COVID-19 pandemic) is based at CSH from 2020-22 The project team is led by Alison Blunt (PI), with CIs Kathy Burrell and Georgina Endfield (University of Liverpool), Alastair Owens (Queen Mary) and Olivia Sheringham (Birkbeck); PDRAs Miri Lawrence, Eithne Nightingale and Annabelle Wilkins (Queen Mary) and Jacky Waldock (University of Liverpool); ten community researchers; and artist-in-residence Alaa Alsaraji. The project’s core partners are the Museum of the Home, National Museums Liverpool and the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).

  • Documenting home explores and extends material in the Museum of the Home’s ‘Stay Home’ collecting project and invites artists, curators and other creative practitioners to share their work on home during the pandemic.
  • Practising home interviews adults from different faith communities and/or minoritized ethnic backgrounds and migration histories about their stay home stories.
  • Mapping home invites children and young people (aged 7-16) to participate in a nationwide mapping exercise on the changing nature of home spaces during COVID-19. It will also work with children and young people in Liverpool City Region to share their stay home stories.

The project is co-creating podcasts, blog posts, short films, an interfaith toolkit, material for the Museum of the Home collections, a virtual exhibition, learning resources, policy briefs and academic presentations and publications.

Home-city-street, funded by the Centre for Public Engagement at Queen Mary, involved research led by Alison with Casper Laing Ebbensgaard and Olivia Sheringham in collaboration with the Museum of the Home, Eastside Community Heritage, Hackney Archives, and the artists Torange Khonsari, Sue Mayo and Janetka Platun. Based from 2017 to 2019 on and around Kingsland Road in the East London borough of Hackney, the project developed a series of 'home-city biographies' with local residents, alongside street party events at the Museum of the Home, intergenerational workshops, and four short films (with Eithne Nightingale and Mitchell Harris). As part of its attempt to make home and domestic life visible and audible within urban public space – and to make 'private' histories of home part of a wider 'public' history – an app-based audio-walk called Home-city stories draws on interview testimony and photographs about home and the city.

Publications

For a full list of publications, please go to publists.

Books

  • Blunt, A. and Dowling, R. (2006; second edition forthcoming) Home. London: Routledge, 304 pp.
  • Blunt, A. (2005) Domicile and diaspora: Anglo-Indian women and the spatial politics of home. Oxford: Blackwell, 288 pp.
  • Blunt, A., Gruffudd, P., May, J., Ogborn, M. and Pinder, D. (eds.) (2003) Cultural geography in practice. London: Arnold, 330 pp.
  • Blunt, A. and McEwan, C. (eds.) (2002) Postcolonial geographies. London: Continuum, 245 pp.
  • Blunt, A. and Wills, J. (2000) Dissident geographies: an introduction to radical ideas and practice. Harlow: Prentice Hall 212pp.
  • Blunt, A. (1994) Travel, gender and imperialism: Mary Kingsley and West Africa. New York: Guilford, 190 pp.
  • Blunt, A. and Rose, G. (eds.) Writing women and space: colonial and postcolonial geographies. New York: Guilford, 256 pp.

Journal special issues

  • Blunt, A. and John, E. (eds.) (2014) 'Domestic practice in the past: historical sources and methods.' Home Cultures 11.
  • Blunt, A., Bonnerjee, J., Hysler-Rubin, N. and Lahiri, S. (eds.) (2012) 'South Asian cities and diasporas.' South Asian Diaspora 4.
  • Blunt, A. and Varley, A. (eds.) (2004) 'Geographies of home.' Cultural Geographies 11.

Papers

  • Blunt, A., Ebbensgaard, C. and Sheringham, O. (2021) "The living of time:" entangled temporalities of home and the city. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 46: 149-62 (published online 2020) https://doi.org/10.1111/tran.12405
  • Sheringham, O., Platun, C., MacAvinchey, C. and Blunt, A. (2020) 'Globe's encounters and the art of rolling: home, migration and belonging' Cultural Geographies 27: 177-99 (published online 2019) https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1474474019879100
  • Blunt, A. and Sheringham, O. (2019) 'Home-city geographies: urban dwelling and mobility.' Progress in Human Geography 43: 815-34 (published online 2018) https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0309132518786590 
  • Blunt, A. and Bonnerjee, J. (2013) 'Home, city, diaspora: Anglo-Indian and Chinese attachments to Calcutta.' Global Networks 13: 220-240.
  • Blunt, A., Bonnerjee, J. and Hysler-Rubin, N. (2012) 'Diasporic returns to the city: Anglo-Indian and Jewish visits to Calcutta.' South Asian Diaspora 4: 25-43.
  • Blunt, A. (2008) 'The skyscraper settlement: home and residence at Christodora House.' Environment and Planning A 40: 550-71.
  • Blunt, A., Bonnerjee, J., Lipman, C., Long, J. and Paynter, F. (2007) 'My Home: space, text and performance.' Cultural Geographies 14: 309-318.
  • Blunt, A. (2007) 'Cultural geographies of migration: mobility, transnationality and diaspora.' Progress in Human Geography 31: 682-94.
  • Blunt, A. (2005) 'Cultural geographies of home.' Progress in Human Geography 29: 505-15.
  • Blunt, A. and Varley, A. (2004) 'Geographies of home: an introduction.' Cultural Geographies 11: 3-6. Co-editor (with A. Varley) of this special issue on ‘Geographies of Home.’
  • Blunt, A. (2003) 'Collective memory and productive nostalgia: Anglo-Indian home-making at McCluskieganj.' Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 21: 717-738.
  • Blunt, A. (2003) 'Geographies of diaspora and mixed descent: Anglo-Indians in India and Britain.' International Journal of Population Geography 9: 281-294.
  • Blunt, A. (2002) '"Land of our Mothers": home, identity and nationality for Anglo-Indians in British India, 1919-1947.' History Workshop Journal 54: 49-72.
  • Blunt, A. (2000) 'Spatial stories under siege: British women writing from Lucknow in 1857.' Gender, Place and Culture 7: 229-46. This paper was reprinted in full in R. Lewis and S. Mills (eds.) (2003) Feminist Postcolonial Theory: a Reader. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 720-738.
  • Blunt, A. (2000) 'Embodying war: British women and domestic defilement in the Indian 'Mutiny,' 1857-8.' Journal of Historical Geography 26: 403-28.
  • Blunt, A. (1999) 'Imperial geographies of home: British women in India, 1886-1925.' Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS 24, pp. 421-440.

Other publications

Supervision

I welcome enquiries about doctoral research on home, migration and the city.

Current PhD students

  • Jesse Connuck 'Deploying home: US military homemaking practices since the Cold War.' The Leverhulme Trust (Mobile People programme), co-supervised with Katharine Hall, School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary.  
  • Jade Hunter 'Home, migration and belonging on a suburban estate' ESRC 1+3 CASE (LISS DTP) with Eastside Community Heritage, co-supervised with Olivia Sheringham, Birkbeck University of London.
  • Chandan Mahal 'Family history, place and diaspora: genealogical geographies and community heritage for people of Punjabi descent in London.' AHRC CDA with the Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers), co-supervised with Catherine Souch (RGS-IBG).  
  • Rachele Shamouni-Naghde 'Hospitality as imaginary, action and heritage.' AHRC CDA (LAHP DTP) with PEROU, co-supervised with Anna-Louise Milne, University of London Institute in Paris.

Past PhD students

  • Akile Ahmet 'Home and identity for young men of mixed descent.' QMUL studentship.
  • Halima Begum 'Commodifying multicultures: urban regeneration and the politics of space in Spitalfields.' ESRC.
  • Jayani Bonnerjee 'Placing neighbourhoods and cities in diaspora space: Anglo-Indian and Chinese communities in Calcutta, London and Toronto.' The Leverhulme Trust.
  • Jonathan Chipp 'Kierkegaard and Copenhagen: the Urban Performance of Theory': University of Southampton studentship.
  • Georgina Gowans 'Geographies of home and empire: British women leaving India, 1900-1947.' University of Southampton studentship.
  • Emily Harris 'Interfaith connections at home: domestic space, practice and dialogue in contemporary London.' ARHC CDA with the Museum of the Home.
  • Laura Humphreys 'Domestic labour, metropolitan households and the wider world, 1850-1914.' AHRC CDA with The Museum of the Home.
  • David Hurford 'Daily bread: evangelical beliefs and identities through place.' QMUL studentship.
  • Meena Khatwa 'Life journeys: narratives of Hindu mothers and daughters in British homes.' QMUL studentship.
  • Miri Lawrence 'Judaism in the suburban home, 1945-79'. AHRC CDA with the Museum of the Home.
  • Kristina Legg 'The place of religion: spatialised subjectivites of Muslims, Sikhs and Christians in Southampton.' University of Southampton studentship.
  • Caron Lipman 'The domestic uncanny: co-habiting with ghosts.' QMUL studentship.
  • Joanna Long 'Daar al Falasşini : Home, family and identity among Palestinians in Britain.' ESRC.
  • Carey Newson 'Inside teenage bedrooms: a cross-generational study of the teenage bedroom and its material culture.' ESRC.
  • Eithne Nightingale 'Child migration to East London: life stories of departure, arrival and settlement.' AHRC CDA with the V&A Museum of Childhood.
  • Felicity Paynter 'Culture in Suburbia: The Place of Culture in Suburban Sustainability.' ESRC.
  • Eilidh Reid 'Masculine emotional geographies: home, ageing and later life.' QMUL studentship.
  • Subhadra Roy 'Expressing identities and experiencing difference: Spatial practices in the everyday lives of Indian students in London and Toronto.' QMUL studentship.
  • Imogen Wallace 'From the geopolitical to the everyday: 'home' for Muslim women in London and Bristol.' ESRC.
  • Annabelle Wilkins 'Home, work and migration in the East End of London since 1945.' AHRC CDA with The Museum of the Home.

Public Engagement

Research at the Centre for Studies of Home features in the new Home Gallery and the Documenting Home collection at the Museum of the Home. Under Alison's co-directorship of CSH, research has also been displayed in five co-curated exhibitions at the Museum of the Home since 2016:

  • Swept under the carpet? Servants in London households, 1600 to 2000 (2016), co-curated by AHRC CDA 'Home-work' students Tessa Chynoweth and Laura Humphreys, made domestic service visible in the period rooms for the first time (c.43,000 visitors);
  • The Aylesbury Estate as Home (2016), co-curated by Leverhulme Early Career Fellow Richard Baxter enabled the museum to address social housing for the first time (c.15,000 visitors);
  • Inside teenage bedrooms (2016), co-curated by ESRC PhD student Carey Newson, enabled the museum to reflect young people's cultural practice and stimulated intergenerational dialogue (c.23,200 visitors);
  • Home thoughts: stories of living in London (2017-18); c.18,600 visitors) featured films and displays on domestic religious practice for the first time from research by AHRC CDA students Emily Harris, Miri Lawrence and Annabelle Wilkins (c.18,600 visitors);
  • Who once lived in my house? (2016), co-curated by Caron Lipman and Catherine Nash, provided a new approach to thinking about home and temporality beyond the chronological history of home presented in the period rooms (c.12,500 visitors).

Working with Casper Laing Ebbensgaard and Olivia Sheringham, Alison's Home-city-street project has deepened links with the local area through two indoor street parties, artist-led workshops, a workshop at Hackney Archives, and four short films screened at the Museum of the Home, Hackney Archives, Ali's kebab shop (belonging to one of the participants) and the crypt of St Peter’s Church. These activities were attended by more than 250 people. The app-based audio walk Home-city stories was developed in collaboration with MoH and Hackney Archives and runs from one to the other on and around Kingsland Road.   

Alison's current AHRC Stay Home Stories project is co-creating podcasts, blog posts, short films, an interfaith toolkit, material for the Museum of the Home collections, a virtual exhibition, learning resources, policy briefs and academic presentations and publications.