School of Geography

Dr Tim Brown

Tim

Reader in Health Geography

Email: tim.brown@qmul.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 8465
Room Number: Bancroft Building, Room 2.02

Profile

As a geographer my main interests lie with the productive and transformative potential of public health discourses, both in terms of the particular forms of healthy and unhealthy subjectivity that are promoted and the kinds of interventions enacted as behaviour and space are reconfigured in the name of health. My interests have led me to explore a range of issues under the broad rubric of critical public health geographies; ranging from HIV/AIDS and the social construction of risk to historical work on the establishing of ‘urban healtheries’ in nineteenth century London. In theoretical and methodological terms, much of my work in this area draws on Foucault and governmentality studies more widely.

More recently, my research has been oriented towards developing a constructive engagement with inter-disciplinary working. To this end, I have recently completed an inter-disciplinary investigation into Black women’s responses to a breast cancer intervention in East London and am currently part of a multi-disciplinary team working to promote healthy growth in children recovering from Severe Acute Malnutrition in rural and peri-urban Zimbabwe. The latter project aligns well with my long-established engagement with global health.

I am currently on the international editorial board for Health & Place and the international advisory board for Social Science and Medicine.

Selected publications

Books

  • Brown, T., Andrews, G., Cummins, S., Greenhough, G., Power, A., Lewis, D. (2017) Health Geographies: A Critical Introduction. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.
  • Parry, B., Greenhough, B., Brown, T., Dyck, I. (Eds) (2015) Bodies Across Borders: The global circulation of body parts, medical tourists and professionals. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Brown, T., McLafferty, S., Moon, G. (Eds) (2009) A Companion to Health and Medical Geography. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.

Journal articles

  • Brown, T., Dyck, I., Greenhough, B., Raven-Ellison, M., Dembinsky, M., Ornstein, M., Duffy, S. (2017). Fear, family and the placing of emotion: Black women's responses to a breast cancer awareness intervention. Social Science and Medicine 195, 90-96
  • Reubi, D., Herrick, C., Brown, T. (2016) Politics of NCDs in the Global South. Health & Place 39, 179-187
  • Brown, T. (2013) The making of ‘urban healtheries’ (Brabazon): the transformation of cemeteries and burial grounds in late-Victorian East London. Journal of Historical Geography 42, 12-23
  • Brown, T., Craddock, S., Ingram, A. (2012) Critical interventions in global health: governmentality, risk, assemblage. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 102, 1182-1189
  • Brown, T. (2010) ‘Vulnerability is universal’: Considering the place of ‘security’ and ‘vulnerability’ within contemporary global health discourse. Social Science and Medicine 72, 319-326
  • Budd, L., Bell, M., Brown, T. (2009) Of plagues, planes and politics: controlling the global spread of infectious diseases by air. Political Geography 28, 426-435
  • Brown, T., Bell, M. (2008) Imperial or postcolonial governance: dissecting the genealogy of a global public health strategy. Social Science and Medicine 67, 1571-1579.
  • Brown, T., Duncan, C. (2002) Placing geographies of public health. Area 33, 361-369.
  • Brown, T. (2000) AIDS, risk and the governance of social space. Social Science & Medicine 50, 1273-1284

Teaching

My priority as a teacher-practitioner in Higher Education is to promote critical thinking and writing across the modules that I teach. I blend lecture presentations with seminar discussions around key issues and ideas, which aim to promote deeper learning as well as to stimulate engagement. While I am not complacent, selected comments from student feedback suggest that I am achieving at least some of my ambitions as a teacher; referring as they do to an appreciation of the ‘variation in teaching methods,’ to the enjoyment of the ‘interesting topics’ covered, and to the overall quality of the experience: ‘good lecturer, enthusiastic about topics – makes them interesting.’

Much of my current teaching is organised around themes relating to the geographies of health, disease and biomedicine and takes both an historical as well as a contemporary perspective on these broad areas. These modules are regularly taken by Associate students and are also delivered as a part of the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s Global Health BSc. I have also co-developed an innovative new Masters programme, Global Health Geographies, which will allow students to take modules from programmes delivered in this area by the Global Public Health Unit in the Centre for Primary Care and Public Health, as well as undertake fieldwork at global health institutions in Geneva.

Undergraduate

I convene and teach the following modules:

  • GEG5135 Health, Space and Justice (semester B)
  • GEG6137 Health, Disease and the City (semester A)

I contribute through tutorial supervision and academic advising to:

  • GEG4000 Introduction to Geographical Ideas and Practice
  • GEG5103 Geographical Research in Practice
  • GEG6000 Independent Geographical Study

Masters

I convene a new MA programme Global Health Geographies and teach on two related modules:

  • GEG7133 Critical Global Health Geographies
  • GEG7134 Researching Global Health and Biomedicine: Geneva Fieldclass

Research

Research Interests:

My recent and current research covers three main themes: 1) global public health and discourses of risk, security and vulnerability; 2) environment, public health and the transformation of urban space; 3) health promotion, ethnicity and place

1) Global public health and discourses of risk, security and vulnerability

The main focus of this programme of research was to outline the key contours of public health discourse relating to the emergent global epidemic of non-communicable diseases. Initial research considered the medicalisation of greenspace within public health policy globally and debates surrounding the World Health Organisation’s Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health (Brown and Bell, 2007, 2008). This phase of the research identified the shifting geographies associated with NCDs, the mobility associated with the so-called ‘western lifestyle’ and considered the notion that the processes of globalisation and urbanisation rendered vulnerability universal.

More recent research activity and outputs in this area include review papers exploring the critical interventions by geographers in the multi-disciplinary field of global health (Brown and Moon, 2012; Brown, Craddock and Ingram, 2012), the joint convening of academic conference panels and an associated special section of Health & Place, and the co-organising of an ESRC funded international workshop on the Politics of Non-Communicable Diseases in the Global South, hosted by Kings College London, October 2015 (with David Reubi, KCL).

I am currently engaged in multi-disciplinary research exploring the potential for developing interventions to promote healthy growth in children recovering from Severe Acute Malnutrition in rural and peri-urban districts in Zimbabwe. The project, led by Professor Andrew Prendergast, was funded by the MRC Rapid Response Research Grants scheme (£198, 997; awarded 2017).

2) Environment, public health and the transformation of urban space

This programme of research builds on a Wellcome Trust grant awarded to support an investigation into the transformation of disused cemeteries and burial grounds into ‘urban healtheries’ in Victorian East London (Brown, 2013). The project focused on the work of the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association (MPGA) and considered how the health promoting properties of light and air informed interventions designed to bring accessible green space in close proximity to working class families, and especially children. My interest in the work of the MPGA is ongoing, and is being extended to consider the wider assemblage of actors that cohered around this specific aspect of urban sanitary reform in other major urban centres of the period.

Additional research in this area includes a collaboratively funded PhD project (AHRC CDA award 2012-2015; Oliver Gibson PhD candidate) into the influence of ideas about environment and health on the institutional practices and welfare strategies of children in the care of Dr Barnardo’s, circa. 1860 – 1910. Awarded collaboratively with the Ragged School Museum, this project has also involved the development of public engagement activities with the museum and has led to a separate investigation into the work of Barnardos in preparing children for emigration overseas, particularly Canada (with Alastair Owens; funded by a small grant from the Centre for the Study of Migration, QMUL 2013).

3) Health promotion, ethnicity and place

This inter-disciplinary study focused on multiple dimensions of a public health intervention targeted at Black women living in Hackney, east London (funded by Barts and the London Charity; £162,125 awarded 2013). The intervention was designed by clinicians based at Homerton Hospital and the study involved exploring the women’s response to the intervention (a DVD promoting breast awareness) using qualitative methodologies (focus groups, interviews and an action research workshop). Additional quantitative research was conducted into the DVD’s impact upon the women’s health-seeking behaviours. Analysis of pilot (2012-2013) and main project (2013-2015) study findings led to extension work being conducted around contested ideas of blackness, identity and risk. Papers from this project have been published in the Journal of Environment and Community Health and Social Science and Medicine and a further paper is under review with Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

Publications

Books

  • Brown, T., Andrews, G., Cummins, S., Greenhough, G., Lewis, D and Power, A. (2017) Health Geographies: A Critical Introduction. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.
  • Parry, B., Greenhough, B., Brown, T., Dyck, I. (Eds) (2015) Bodies Across Borders: The global circulation of body parts, medical tourists and professionals. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Brown, T., McLafferty, S., Moon, G. (Eds) (2009) A Companion to Health and Medical Geography. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.
  • Moon, G., Gould, M., Brown, T. et al. (2000) Epidemiology for Nurses and the Caring Professions. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Journal special issues

  • Reubi, D., Herrick, C & Brown, T. (2016) Politics of NCDs in the Global South. Health and Place
  • Greenhough, B., Parry, B., Dyck, I., Brown, T. (2015) Bodies across borders. Gender, Place, Culture.
  • Brown, T. & Cummins, S. (2013) Intervening in health: the place of green space. Landscape and Urban Planning

Journal articles

A complete list of publications is available here

  • Brown, T., Dyck, I., Greenhough, B., Raven-Ellison, M., Dembinsky, M., Ornstein, M., Duffy, S. (2017). Fear, family and the placing of emotion: Black women's responses to a breast cancer awareness intervention. Social Science & Medicine 195, 90-96
  • Greenhough, B., Duffy, S., Dyck, I. Brown, T., Ornstein, M. and 4 others (2016) Evaluating a DVD promoting breast awareness amongst Black women aged 25-50 in East London. Journal of Environment and Community Health 70(7), 678-682
  • Reubi, D., Herrick, C., Brown, T. (2016) Politics of NCDs in the Global South. Health & Place 39, 179-187.
  • Wakefield, S., Fredrickson, K.R. Brown, T. (2015) Food, security, and health in Canada: Imaginaries, exclusions and possibilities. Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe Canadien 59, 82-92.
  • Greenhough, B., Parry, B., Dyck, I., Brown, T. (2015) Editorial: Bodies across borders. Gender, Place, Culture, 22, 83-89.
    Brown, T. (2014) Difference by degrees: fatness and the problem with contagious metaphors. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine 18, 117-129.
  • Brown, T., Cummins, S. (2013) Editorial: Intervening in health: the place of urban green space. Landscape and Urban Planning 118, 59-61.
  • Brown, T. (2013) The making of ‘urban healtheries’ (Brabazon): the transformation of cemeteries and burial grounds in late-Victorian East London. Journal of Historical Geography 42, 12-23.
  • Thompson, C., Cummins, S., Brown, T., Kyle, R. (2013) Shopping for food: routine and agency in the neighbourhood food environment. Health & Place 19, 116-123.
  • Brown, T., Craddock, S., Ingram, A. (2012) Critical interventions in global health: governmentality, risk, assemblage. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 102, 1182-1189.
  • Brown, T., Moon, G. (2012) Commentary: Global Health and Geography. Geographical Journal 178, 13-17.
  • Brown, T. (2010) ‘Vulnerability is universal’: Considering the place of ‘security’ and ‘vulnerability’ within contemporary global health discourse. Social Science & Medicine 72, 319-326.
  • Budd, L., Bell, M., Brown, T. (2009) Of plagues, planes and politics: controlling the global spread of infectious diseases by air. Political Geography 28, 426-435.
  • Brown, T., Bell, M. (2008) Imperial or postcolonial governance: dissecting the genealogy of a global public health strategy. Social Science & Medicine 67, 1571-1579.
  • Brown, T., Bell, M. (2007) Off the couch and on the move: global public health and the medicalisation of nature. Social Science & Medicine 64, 1343-1354.  
  • Bell, M., Brown, T., Faire, L. (2006) Germs, genes and postcolonial geographies: reading the return of tuberculosis to Leicester, UK, 2001. Cultural Geographies 13, 577-599.
  • Brown, T., Moon, G. (2004) From Siam to New York: Jacques May and the ‘foundation’ of US medical geography. Journal of Historical Geography 30, 747-763.
  • Brown, T. (2003) Towards an understanding of local protest: healthcare reform and community participation. Social and Cultural Geography 4, 489-506.
  • Brown, T., Duncan, C. (2002) Placing geographies of public health. Area 33, 361-369.
  • Moon, G., Brown, T. (2001) Closing Bart’s: community and resistance in contemporary London hospital policy. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 19, 43-59.
  • Brown, T. (2000) AIDS, risk and the governance of social space. Social Science & Medicine 50, 1273-1284.
  • Brown, T., Duncan, C. (2000) London’s burning: spaces for smoking, spaces for health. Health and Place 6, 363-375.
  • Moon, G., Brown, T. (2000) Towards localised space: discourse, governmentality and UK health policy in the mid-1990s. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 25, 65-76.

PhD Supervision

Completed

  • Claire Thompson (co-supervision with Steven Cummins). PhD – QMUL ‘Environmental determinants of diet: exploring the mediating role of culture’ (2009-2012; ESRC CASE)
  • Alexandra Boyle (co-supervision with Kathryn Yusoff). PhD QMUL – ‘Talking about Technology: Exploring the Affective and Emotional Dimensions of Everyday Technologies among Older Adults in the United Kingdom’ (2013-17; QMUL Principal’s Studentship)
  • Oliver Gibson (co-supervision with Alastair Owens and Erica Davies) PhD – QMUL ‘Health, environment and the institutional care of children in late Victorian London’ (2012-17; AHRC CDA)
  • Hayley Peacock (co-supervision with Catherine Nash). PhD – QMUL ‘Politics of colour interventions’ (2012-17; AHRC)
  • Kristin Hussey (co-supervision with Alastair Owens). PhD QMUL – ‘Imperial Medicine in the Global City: Medical Products, Practices and Practitioners from the Empire in London, 1880‐1930’ (2014-17; QMUL Principal’s Studentship)
  • Josie Hamper (co-supervision with Catherine Nash) PhD QMUL – ‘Women, smartphones and maternal health apps: A qualitative investigation’ (2014-18; ESRC)

Future supervision

I am especially interested in supervising PhD students in the broad areas listed below, though I am happy to discuss supervision of projects outside of these

  • Critical geographies of public health and the city
  • Governance, self-care and healthy subjectivity
  • Global public health and non-communicable disease

I very much welcome initial inquiries if you would like to discuss your ideas with me prior to application, further guidance on which is available from the School of Geography website.

Public Engagement

A key part of my research activity within the School has involved building collaborative relations with organisations that serve the communities within and around East London. Examples of this include the collaborative links that I have developed, working alongside colleagues within the School of Geography and more broadly across QMUL, with the Ragged School Museum and the Shuffle Festival. Both collaborations have been supported by funds to help develop and foster public engagement activities and promote research impact.

Educating the East End, past and present, 2014-15 (collaborative project between QMUL and the Ragged School Museum; Humanities and Social Sciences Collaboration Fund, £14,219)

Working in concert with the Director of the Ragged School, Erica Davies, this project with research staff at QMUL (Tim Brown, Oliver Gibson, Peter Mitchell, Alastair Owens (PI) and Tessa Whitehouse) involved the production of a new permanent exhibition for the museum.

Opened by the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury on the 20th October 2015, the exhibition ‘Ragged Children, Mended Lives’ features a series of nine panels based on original research by the team and illustrated with images from several collections including the Ragged School Museum, the Barnardo’s archives and London Metropolitan Archives. A series of educational resources based on the same research themes, designed for school groups in Key Stages 2 and 3, and for use in concert with class visits to the Ragged School Museum, are also in development.

The team were awarded the QMUL Interact Award 2015, which recognises the partnerships and collaborations that are essential to public engagement.

Old Problems, New Solutions, 2015-16 (collaborative project between Tim Brown, Shuffle and Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park; Humanities and Social Sciences Collaboration Fund, £13,974)

Working in collaboration with the Shuffle team, the aim of this project is to support the work of the Friends of Tower Hamlet Cemetery Park and explore potential research ideas by:

  1. developing exhibition materials that trace the cemetery’s transformation into a contemporary ‘urban healthery’ following the its closure to further interments in the mid-1960s. A temporary exhibition was hosted at the THCP Lodge in 2016 drawing on archival material, media accounts and interviews to tell the story of the park’s transformation;
  2. producing a short (10-minute) documentary-style film with the Shuffle team that explores the importance of the unique biodiversity of THCP to the health and wellbeing of its many users. The film will also be used to communicate the work of both the FoTHCP and Shuffle and will be shown as a trailer at events in the park, including the annual Shuffle Festival.