Dr Ben Coles

Lecturer in Human Geography

Room: Bennett Building, F49

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 3838

Email: bfc2@le.ac.uk

Personal details

I am a broadly trained economic and political geographer who researches commodities, markets and cultures of consumption on the one hand and their connections resources, extraction and production landscapes on the other.

My research interests include the geographies of commodities, with a particular emphasis on the intersections of food, water and energy, and in turn how these geographies relate to questions of place, space and scale. Additionally,  I have been involved in the theorisation of the 'nexus' as a social-spatial-technical formation, and 'nexus-thinking', which seeks to variously interrogate the constitution. To these latter ends, I've focused on adopting nexus-thinking, and other theories of interconnectivity, to theorise Geographies in and for the Anthropocene.

All of my research is underpinned by conceptual as well as methodological concerns of place and place-making, and is thus informed by a set of place-centred methodologies, that I call ‘topog/raphy’ (place-writing). Examining the intersections of material, social and discursive relations, topo/graphy employs a variety of qualitative methods such as participant observation, photography, interviews, ‘site-writing’, and soundscape recording in order to construct narratives of place and place-making.

This methodological perspective has been deployed in a variety of contexts relating the economic and political spaces of the UK, EU, Latin America (Brazil) and beyond to examine a diverse array of geographical questions about the ‘geographies’ of foods (coffee, wine & chickens), the ‘geographies’ of production/consumption/in-between (markets, farms and factories), and the nexus of interrelated and interconnected resources impacted by food and energy provision.

These research activities lead to an long-term intellectual project that seeks to address the moral assumptions that underly notions of 'ethical' and redress the implicit contradictions of resource economies through a geographical framework in which place and place-making are at the centre.

Recent Publications


(2021): Making Markets Making Place: Geography, Topo/graphy and the Reproduction of an Urban Marketplace. London, Palgrave Macmillan.ISBN 9787-3-030-72864-9


Journal Articles:

(forthcoming) Walker, C. and Coles B.Points of Convergence: deploying the geographies of critical nexus-thinking. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space.

(2021):Morris, C., Kaljonen, M., Aavik, K. et al. Priorities for social science and humanities research on the challenges of moving beyond animal-based food systems. Humanit Soc Sci Commun 8, 38. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-021-00714-z

(2020):Cristiana Zara, Benjamin Coles, Sophie Hadfield-Hill, John Horton & Peter Kraftl (2020) Geographies of food beyond food: transfiguring nexus-thinking through encounters with young people in Brazil, Social & Cultural Geography, DOI: 10.1080/14649365.2020.1809010




Research areas for PhD supervision

I am happy to supervise students within a range of projects associated with food, water and energy (and the nexus therein) provision; 'nexus'-thinking, and other theories of connectivity; resources in Brazil and Latin America; place/place-making and topo/graphy; markets and materialities, and commodity and market processes more widely.

  • Enquiries: If you are interested in studying for a PhD in one of these research areas, please make informal enquiries via pgrgeog@le.ac.uk.

Find out more information about Geography PhDs including more research areas, how to apply, funding and entry requirements.

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Contact Details

School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
Bennett Building
University Road
University of Leicester

T: 0116 252 3933

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