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. I am a cultural, historical and political geographer. My work expands beyond the traditional boundaries of social and cultural geography to consider political and economic issues in both historical and contemporary settings. Over the last five years, I have worked to draw my research on the geographies of sexualities and on protest and solidarity closer together through an engagement with critical geopolitics.


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. 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.


I am a cultural, historical and political geographer. My work expands beyond the traditional boundaries of social and cultural geography to consider political and economic issues in both historical and contemporary settings. To date, most of my academic research has been concerned with the spatiality of gay men’s lives; but I also research solidarity, social movement activism and protest. Increasingly, I am examining both areas of work through ideas drawn from critical geopolitics as much as from social and cultural geography. I am currently engaged in two broad research projects, which are outlined below in greater detail.  These are:

  • Geopolitics of sexual orientation and gender identity ;
  • Geographies of protest camps, solidarity and internationalism;

I also have an interest in how Leicester's population and urban form are affected by geopolitical events

Geopolitics of sexual orientation and gender identity

I am best known for my work on geographies of sexuality. In recent years, questions of sexual politics have increasingly become a matter of diplomatic concern and integrated into international relations. This has been witnessed in international responses to the adoption of anti-gay legislation in Russia and Uganda; but also in policies developed by the World Bank, and debates at the United Nations. My research extends lessons from critical and feminist geopolitics to understand and theorize these developments geopolitically. This work challenges queer theorists’ over-reliance on the concept of ‘homonationalism’ to examine the diversity of different practices and considerations that motivate and assemble sexual politics as a matter of contemporary diplomatic and geopolitical concern. As part of this area of work, I am also 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.

Geographies of protest camps, 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. In recent years, I have focused on recording the historical geographies of British anti-apartheid solidarity activism in the 1980s (through research funded by the Leverhulme Trust). 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. Their political cause was serious, but their practice was infused with youthful exuberance. Solidarity is at the heart of this historical account of how the Non-Stop Picket practiced its politics and the transformative effects being in solidarity had on the consciousness of its youthful protagonists.  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

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.


Research areas for PhD supervision

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

I am interested in supervising students 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 of the international anti-apartheid movement (1960 – 1994) and similar international solidarity social movements
  • Cultural and historical geographies of sexual minority (LGBTQ) lives in urban and/or rural areas around the world.
  • Cultural and historical geographies of individuals and organisations associated with the far Left (anarchist, communist and socialist political 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)
David Ashby Geopolitical Imagination though Comedy: Media, Message and Memes Dr Ben Coles
Hannah Smith The uncertain and unstable body: re-assemblage through organ transplantation circa 1994- 2015 Professor Clare Madge and Dr Jen Dickinson (Winchester)
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

Georgia Gilling Queer assemblages on the English Channel in the time of Brexit 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


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


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

T: 0116 252 3933

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