Professor Gavin Brown

Professor of Political Geography & Sexualities

Deputy Head - School for Geography, Geology and the Environment
Dr Gavin Brown

Contact details

  • Tel: +44 (0)116 252 3858
  • Email:
  • Office: Bennett Building F46

Personal details

I joined the University of Leicester, as a Lecturer in 2007 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2014 and Professor in 2018. Prior to coming to Leicester, I completed my PhD in Geography at King's College London, where I was supervised by Loretta Lees and Tim Butler. I am a cultural, historical and political geographer. My work is grounded in geography, but frequently interdisciplinary. I am best known as a leading figure in the field of the geographies of sexualities, but I have also conducted research on protest, solidarity, migration, health and education.

I am currently the Deputy Head of the School of Geography, Geology and the Environment at Leicester, and I also lead the School's Critical and Creative Geographies research group. Across campus, I am part of the leadership of the University's interdisciplinary research network on Migration, Mobility and Citizenship.

I was a founding officer of the Space, Sexualities and Queer Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers). I also helped initiate the European Geographies of Sexualities conferences, which have run every two years since 2011. I was an editor of Social and Cultural Geography (2016-2020) and serve on the editorial boards of Gender, Place and Culture, Geography Compass and Social and Cultural Geography.


Google Scholar

Twitter: @lestageog



Like my research expertise, my teaching focuses on political geography and critical geopolitics. I convene the second year module, Political Geography: Space, Territory and Power.

I teach on two third year modules, drawing directly on different aspects of my research in each of them. In Critical Geopolitics I use an extended case study about apartheid in South Africa (and international resistance to it) to think about the combined geopolitics of the Global Cold War and processes of decolonization, and to centre Southern African political thinkers as geopolitical theorists. This module also explores a range of contemporary theoretical and practical debates in critical geopolitics, including my research on the geopolitics of sexuality. I also lead our third year fieldcourse Berlin: tracing geopolitics in urban space which includes topics on Cold War geopolitics, protest and resistance, and sexual politics.


I am a cultural, historical and political geographer. The geographical study of gay and bisexual/queer men's lives has been at the core of my research for more than 20 years. However, I also have a sustained research interest in protest and solidarity. More recently, I have developed interests in migration and health(care). My work draws on a wide range of theoretical ideas and methodologies from Geography and other disciplines. My current research falls into two broad areas, which are outlined below in greater detail.  These are:

  • Sexuality, migration and health ;
  • Geopolitics of protest, solidarity and internationalism;

Sexuality, Migration and Health

I am best known for my work on geographies of sexuality. While my work has often drawn on ideas and concepts from Queer Theory, I have a long-standing concern that geographical work on sexuality should not over-rely on queer theory, but should develop truly geographical theorizations of sexuality, sexual identity and sexual politics. As such, my writing on 'homonormativity' over the last decade has questioned an uncritical adoption of this concept and sought to explore geographical and historical variations and contradictions in hegemonic sexual politics and social relations.

In collaboration with Cesare di Feliciantonio (who held a MSCA Individual Fellowship with me at Leicester), I am researching the rapidly changing geographies of HIV/AIDS and considering geopolitical aspects of the roll-out internationally of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) as a preventative treatment against HIV infection. This work has developed into the transnational mobility of PrEP as a pharmaceutical substance, and the ways in which (access to) PrEP is implicated in gay men's mobilities of various kinds.

I currently lead an international, interdisciplinary research team investigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns on sexual politics and intimate citizenship in India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, and the UK. I am also involved in a number of small, interdisciplinary projects examining the extent to which the needs of migrantised populations were addressed in global and national pandemic planning protocols prior to the COVID-19 outbreak; as well as projects about access to healthcare information amongst migrantised communities in Leicester.

My work in this theme has been funded by the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions of the European Commission, the Wellcome Trust, and the Leicester Institute for Advanced Studies. I currently have a number of ESRC-funded PhD students working on sexualities projects.

Key publications:

Brown, G. and Di Feliciantonio, C. (2021), 'Geographies of PrEP, TasP, and undetectability: reconceptualising HIV assemblages to explore what else matters in the lives of gay and bisexual men', Dialogues in Human Geography

Brown, G and Browne, K (eds) (2016), The Routledge Research Companion to Geographies of Sex and Sexuality, London: Routledge.

Brown, G. (2015), ‘Rethinking the origins of homonormativity: the diverse economies of rural gay life in England and Wales in the 1970s and 1980s’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 40 (4): 549 – 561.

Brown, G. (2012), “Homonormativity: a metropolitan concept that denigrates ‘ordinary’ gay lives,” Journal of Homosexuality 59 (7): 1065 – 1072.

Browne, K, Lim, J and Brown, G (eds.) (2007), Geographies of Sexualities: Theory, Practices and Politics, Aldershot: Ashgate.

Geopolitics of protest, solidarity and internationalism

I have an interest in solidarity as a spatial practice and a set of spatial relations, as well as the spatialities of protest camps and other forms of social movement activism. Over the last decade, I have focused on recording the historical geographies of British anti-apartheid solidarity activism in the 1980s. This project examines important questions about the transformative power of standing in solidarity with distant others. Specifically it examines the history of the Non-Stop Picket of the South African Embassy in London. The (mostly) very young supporters of the City of London Anti-Apartheid Group (City Group) maintained a constant presence outside the embassy in Trafalgar Square, between April 1986 and January 1990, achieving their goal to remain until Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Rather than simply tell the story of the Non-Stop Picket, this project examines the long-term impact on the lives of picketers of being non-stop against apartheid. For further details of this project, see This project led to the deposit of a significant archive of anti-apartheid papers at the Bishopsgate Institute in London. A new project works to extend the impact of this archive, by digitising key documents relating to exiled member of the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania who were based in London in the 1980s.

Through my work on the Non-Stop Picket, I have become part of the Protest Camps research collective.  Together we have organised a number of workshops and conference sessions examining trans-disciplinary approaches to the study (and practices) of historical and contemporary protest camps, occupations and other forms of long-term, emplaced protests.

Finally, my interests in solidarity, migration and sexuality converge through my ongoing collaboration with colleagues across Europe working on themes of 'Solidarity in Diversity'. We have recently secured a MSCA Training Network which will fund 15 PhD students across Europe over the next four years, examining how intersectional solidarities are developed and sustained in place.

My research in this theme has been funded by the Belgian FWO, Leverhulme Trust, and the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions of the European Commission. I have a PhD student working on these themes funded by the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission.

Key Publications:

Brown, G. (2019), ‘‘Burn it down!’: Materialising intersectional solidarities in the architecture of the South African Embassy during the London Poll Tax Riot, March 1990’, Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 38(2): 233-250.

Campaign Choirs Writing Collective (ed. G. Brown) (2018), Singing for Our Lives: Stories from the Street Choirs, Bristol: HammerOn Press.

Brown, G. and Yaffe, H. (2017), Youth activism and solidarity: the Non-Stop Picket against apartheid, London: Routledge.

Brown, G., Feigenbaum, A., Frenzel, F. and McCurdy, P. (eds) (2017), Protest camps in International Context: spaces, infrastructures, and media of resistance, Bristol: Policy Press.

Brown, G. and Pickerill, J. (2009), “Space for emotion in the spaces of activism,” Emotion, Space and Society, 2 (1): 24 – 35.


Research areas for PhD supervision and Postdoc mentoring

Critical geopolitics, Subaltern geopolitics, Cultural and historical geography, Sexualities, Ethnography, Archival research, Protest, Social movements

I am currently at capacity for supervising PhD students, but with some current students close to completion, I am still interested in hearing from potential PhD students and postdoctoral fellows who would like to work on the following topics:

  • The geopolitics of sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • The geographies of HIV: PrEP and undetectability;
  • Assemblage thinking and geographies of sexualities;
  • Cultural and historical geographies and or critical geopolitics of the international anti-apartheid movement (1960 – 1994) and similar international solidarity social movements

Enquiries: If you are interested in studying for a PhD in one of these research areas, please make informal enquiries via

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


StudentThesis TitleOther Supervisor(s)
Clara Rivas Alonso Everyday Practices and Perceptions of Resistance Embedded in Processes of State-led Gentrification in Okmeydanı, Istanbul. Professor Loretta Lees
Jessica Steele 'Self-renovating neighbourhoods' – an alternative to gentrification? Professor Loretta Lees
Ellen Bishop Exploring the Recursive Effects of the Educational Experiences of Pupil’s with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) and English as an Additional Language (EAL) on the Lifecourse Dr Katy Bennett and Professor Peter Kraftl (Birmingham)
Tia Ndu Regeneration or gentrification? An intersectional analysis of institutional discrimination in the regeneration of Tottenham, post-2011 riots Professor Loretta Lees
Elise Lecomte Spatial organization in protest camps:Three contested spaces: the ZAD in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, the NoTAV movement in Susa Valley, and Grow Heathrow in London Dr Fabian Frenzel
Amy Zala (Sociology) Exploring Socio-Spatial Dynamics of Queer Nightlife Space Professor Kaitlynn Mendes and Dr Clare Gunby (Birmingham)

Mel Jones Queerly Beloved: Bridging Spaces of Christian Faith and LGBTQ+ Identity Through Creativity Dr Angela Last
Sean Callaghan (Criminology)
Nature and prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation in Diaspora Spaces
Professor Lisa Smith and Dr Stef De Sabbata
Cletus Nwankwo Critical Geopolitics: Understanding the discourse of Farmer-Herder Conflicts in Nigeria Professor Caroline Upton


StudentThesis TitleOther Supervisor(s)
Ali Abubrig Towards a Holistic Islamic Urbanism: Planning for Tripoli in the New Libya Dr Angus Cameron (School of Management)
Adam Barker (Re­)Ordering the New World: Settler Colonialism, Space, and Identity Professor Jenny Pickerill (Sheffield)
Thomas Grant "I’m excited but I don’t want to be unrealistic" The role of hope in shaping aspirations of working class young people in Leicester towards higher education John Williams (Sociology)
Grace Sykes

The University Bubble: Undergraduate perceptions and experiences of ‘risk’/ ’risks’ during their transition to, through and beyond university.

Professor Peter Kraftl (Birmingham)
James Booth Internationalisation of British Higher Education and social media: Academic identities and transnational socialisation Professor Clare Madge and Professor Peter Kraftl
Hannah Smith The uncertain and unstable body: re-assemblage through organ transplantation circa 1994- 2015 Professor Clare Madge and Dr Jen Dickinson (Winchester)
Dave Ashby OK Boomer: Geography, Comedy and Emerging Political Expression of Generation Left in the UK Ben Coles


Gavin Brown speaks on the topic “What the anti-apartheid picket can teach human rights defenders today” as part of the Leicester Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, December 2015

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T: 0116 252 3933

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