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School of Geography

Dr Matthew Tillotson

Lecturer in Human Geography

Room Number: Geography 1.06
Twitter: @@mtthwtlltsn
Office Hours: Mondays 10-11 (MS Teams); Tuesdays 12-1 (on campus).


I am a political and historical geographer working on a range of interests. Recent and current work includes:

  • Imperial space-making in the 1890s-1900s. Published and forthcoming work follows from my reinterpretation of a usual British imperial geographical archive of surveying, exploration and adventure in the 1890s and 1900s. I ask: how whiteness was produced in boundary surveying’s technical practices and through its racialized divisions of labour (AAG Annals, 2022); how surveying practice produced spaces of ‘sensation’ and colonial governance with a potential to ‘speak back’ to metropolitan worlds (Political Geography, 2020); and, following the award of RGS-IBG funding (2020), how the electrical telegraph’s wiry network carried time (longitude) into border networks, a process revealing territory processes as aspects of technological and economic worlds sprawling beyond borderlands themselves.
  • Geopolitics of work and action. I borrow from the political theory of Hannah Arendt to frame alternative accounts of ‘the geopolitical’ around the creation of new geopolitical publics and the public objects created as people contest elite visions on space, power, technology and violence (Progress in Human Geography, 2021; Antipode Online, 2021; Antipode, 2013).
  • Geographies of ‘world alienation’. Increasingly, and informed by Arendt’s notion of ‘work’, I am drawn (with co-authors) to think about the dehumanisations drive by the development of digital technologies in the gig economy’s workplaces.
  • Materialities of mutuality. Forthcoming work investigates building society architecture and design for its material cultural expressions of northern English building societies. The technologization of their business practices and workflows in the 1960s came at a time, before deregulation, when the ‘mutual’ societies were the UK’s biggest housing finance lenders and, for a few years, were unusually willing and able to commission bespoke buildings to house their operations.


  • GEG4009 Ideas and Practice in Geography
  • GEG5103 Geographical Research in Practice
  • GEG4112 Global Worlds
  • GEG6000 Independent Geographical Study
  • GEG6130 Geopolitics post 9/11: War Security Economy
  • GEG7137 Retheorizing global development



Tillotson, M. (2022). White guys in the borderlands. Boundary surveying, environmental change and imperial technoscience in the Nile Valley, 1899-1908. Annals of the American Association of Geographers. [doi: 10.1080/24694452.2021.2000356]

Tillotson, M. & Mustafa, D. (2021). An Arendtian geopolitics. Action, power, and the deferral of work. Progress in Human Geography 45 548-565. [doi: 10.1177/0309132520964955]

Bevilacqua, I, Dawney, L, Emery, J., Mustafa, D, Shaw, J., Tillotson, M. (2021). Intervention – Arendtian Geopolitics after the 2021 UK Defence Review. Antipode Online. Available here:

Tillotson, M. (2020). Nature, space and distances in an imperial boundary network: The delimitation of the Nyasa-Tanganyika plateau boundary. Political Geography 76 102081. [doi: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2019.102081]

Mustafa, D. & Tillotson, M. (2019). The topologies and topographies of hydro-social territorialisation in Jordan. Political Geography 70 74-82. [doi: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2019.01.011]

Mustafa, D., Brown, K. & Tillotson, M. (2013). Antipode to terror: spaces of performative politics. Antipode 45 1110-1127. [doi: 10.1111/anti.12014]

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