Dr Mark Jackson
B.A.(Hons), M.A., Ph.D.(Alta.)
I am a human geographer with expertise in postcolonial, decolonial, and posthuman geographies, including interests in ecologies of thought and action, knowledge ecologies, critical theory, urban life, and political ecology.
- colonialism, post-colonialism
- Political Ecology
- Environmental Humanities
- Cultural Geography
- political economy
- social theory
- urban geography
Associate Professor in Human GeographySchool of Geographical Sciences
Press and media
Many of our academics speak to the media as experts in their field of research. If you are a journalist, please contact the University’s Media and PR Team:
I was born in Calgary, in western Canada, a first generation son of Scottish emigrants, and I grew up most of my life in rural Alberta, on a farm in Treaty 6 territory, where I lived on and off for 35 years.
In the summer of 2007, I joined the University of Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences after having completed my PhD at the University of Alberta, in Canada, under the supervision of the noted Marxian sociologist and cultural historian, Prof. Derek Sayer. My PhD research focused on urban theory and the postcolonial modernity of Calcutta (now Kolkata). After a long stint of ethnographic, textual, archival, and visual research in Kolkata, I mobilised a reading of the city-text through the lens of German philosopher and literary critic Walter Benjamin, Bengali literary modernism, folk painting, and transitioning architectures of consumption and dwelling in the city.
My background is primarily theoretical. My undergraduate honours (4yr) and research masters (2yr) degrees were in philosophy, with an emphasis, in the latter, on Foucault’s aesthetics and the ethics of critique. Qualitative interests in visual methods, ethnography, and historiography were fuelled in the PhD, and continue to make themselves felt today. Comprehensive specialisms also included work in science and technology studies, political ecology, and environmental ethics. I taught for a few years at the University of Alberta as a Sessional Instructor while completing my PhD. Courses I taught included urban studies, community studies, gender theory, social and critical theory, introductory political economy, and introductory sociology.
I am a human geographer with research and teaching interests in how modern colonialism has shaped, and continues to shape, our planetary present.
As such, I'm very interested in ways we can approach thinking and acting in the world differently than those inherited from the often violent, destructive, and reductive structures of modernity set in complex motion more than 500 years ago, but whose intellectual lineages go much further back.
Studying modern colonialism and its contemporary form, coloniality, entails studying cultural, economic, political, and ecological geographies. All of these facets, and more, come together to shape how colonialism and coloniality work, so it means reading and thinking across a complex range of intersecting domains of analysis.
My work lies, therefore, in the following more specific areas of study:
- coloniality, decolonial, and postcolonial geographies of modernity
- political ecology, nature-cultures, environmentality
- technology, materiality, and posthumanisms
- contemporary and classical social theory and modern philosophy
- postcolonial urbanisms
- critical political economy
- decolonising university curricula and pedagogies
I am currently an editor of the journal cultural geographies and a series editor with the Routledge Research series on decoloniality and new postcolonialisms.
The aim of my current research is to rethink the political and ethical meaning of critique within relational ecologies and under the terms of decoloniality. More broadly, my research focuses on how the postcolonial imagination and decolonising intellectual and practical projects are influenced by, and influence, posthumanisms.
Past research has examined care and critique in Indigenous legal appraoches to the politics of reconciliation in Canada, the politics of the Anthropocene and global environmental governance, possibilities and limits in bridging the conceptual landscapes of posthumanism and postcolonialism, materialities of artificial islands, consumption and built space, postcolonial city spaces, commodities and urban consumer landscapes, city ruins, and historiographic ethics. Published work also includes visual research and photographic exhibitions.
I currently supervise 3 postgraduate reseach students (PhDs):
- Courtenay Crawford: decoloniality and eco-Dharma
- Arpeeta Mizan: postcolonial legal consciousness in urban Bangladesh
- Austin Read: political ontology of Atlantic salmon and postcolonial toxicity
Recent PhD students have studied things like: geophilosophy (Theo Parker), the politics of the more-than-human microbiome (Alice Beck), postcolonial togetherness and urban coping in Cape Town, South Africa (Cara Mazetti), the affect of modern aspiration and urban materiality in capitalist China (Sam Berlin), the apocalyptic imaginary and environmental gentrification (Earl Harper), peace geographies (Harry Bregazzi), an institutional ethnography of water in northern Chile (Adriana Suarez-Delucchi), peace and the feminist politics of breath in Northern Ireland (Ciara Merrick), and postsecularism and urban Muslim imaginaries (Giuseppe Carta). Previous PhD students have studied new materialisms and technologies of the self, wool and the politics of embodiment, postcards, pervasive computing, gentrification, and local economies.
PhD students' geographical range is global with analyses in places like the UK and Northern Ireland, Cape Town, Chile, the EU, China, Italy, the US. Similarly, the theoretical range and methodologies employed in their projects is also diverse, with research emerging from attention to new materialisms, affect, feminist embodiment, Institutional Ethnography (IE), semiotics, post- and de-coloniality, post-politics, and critical geo-politics. To date, I have successfully supervised 16 PhD students to completion.
I'm only able to supervise PhD students who meet at least one (ideally more than one) of the following criteria:
- decolonial, postcolonial, feminist, and/or posthumanist theoretical orientations and contexts
- critical political ecologies, political ontology, and environmental humanities oriented geographies, particularly related to decolonial and postcolonial geographies and posthumanisms
- urban postcolonialities
DescriptionThe Association of the Unknown Shore is a new, interdisciplinary partnership that centres on co-produced practice-as-research. It will be a network of artists, academics, curators, and the Church of England.…
Managing organisational unitDepartment of Film and Television
01/02/2018 to 31/08/2018
Description'Seeds, Soil, and Social Change' analyses how scholars and community expertise variously co-produce knowledge through the material and social inter-relationships of seeds, soil, and social practice. Cabot Institute support is…
01/12/2013 to 31/07/2014
DescriptionThe initiative has allowed different communities of environmental expertise to start making connections between their different approaches and areas of expertise, leading to some specific initiatives for future collaborative research.…
01/01/2013 to 01/01/2014
Unsettling Colonialism in the Canadian Criminal Justice System
- Chapter in a book
- Accepted/In press
Annals of the American Association of Geographers
- E-pub ahead of print
Coloniality and the carbonscape: reflections on white settlement and sociogeny from inside a cookie factory.
Feelings of Structure: Explorations in Affect
- Chapter in a book
SAGE Handbook of Nature
- Chapter in a book
- Other contribution
I have extensive and award winning teaching and teaching administration experience across a range of the School's cuirricula, and in each of our degree programmes' academic years. I'm well known in the School for a very popular third year 'Colonial and Postcolonial Geographies' unit, a very well regarded master's unit 'Postcolonial Matters', and for convening a new (20/21) second year 'Geographies of Nature and Environment' unit.
Past teaching has ranged across convening and teaching on units in philosophy and social theory, postcolonial cities, qualitative methods, geographical history and thought, political economy, and field courses here in the UK and in Europe, as well as contributions to open service courses.
I've been awarded School level awards for best instructor several times, as well as been nominated several times (runner-up once!) for faculty and University level student and staff awards.
Administratively, I am currently the Postgraduate Research Director for Human Geography, and a past director of the MSc in Society and Space, the Year One programme, and the Year Two programme. I'm also currently leading a decolonising curriculum review of the School's teaching program and sit on both a University level cross-faculty decolonising curriculum committee seeking to facilitate and encourage best practice within and across the university, and an inter-university decolonising STEM consortium.
Before joining the University of Bristol, I taught at the University of Alberta, in Canada, for a few years. Courses I taught included theories of modernity, urban studies, community studies, gender theory, social and critical theory, introductory political economy, and introductory sociology.