University of St Andrews


Photo of Sharon Leahy


Sharon’s principal research interests lie in the often hidden social geographies of difference, marginalisation and belonging. Her PhD focused on a critical study of televisual archives, providing an interrogation of the construction and transmission of discourses of ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ and their relations to ‘place’, “belonging’ and ‘Irishness’ on Ireland’s national broadcasting channel. Sharon’s interests have built on the work applied to her PhD, to critically assess the discursive construction and consequent actualisation of difference, and its impact on the social construction of the most forgotten in society. She has acquired a specific interest in the ways in which elites produce and regulate knowledge in particularly nuanced ways, allowing for the creation and legitimisation of particular understandings in relation to a variety of social geographies, most especially issues focused on cultural difference, juridico-political processes, the constitution of threat, and discourses surrounding illegal transnational flows. More recently, in conjunction with Prof Findlay, she has started to investigate geographies of third-level education, with a focus on student migration between Ireland and the UK and the economic, cultural and citizenship issues that surround this. Furthermore, Sharon is currently researching the ways in which the sex trafficked person is constituted as homo sacer in juridico-political contexts. This is a study interested in revealing the social reproduction of barelife, focusing on how the creation and final enactment of trafficking law is often intimately tied to bio-political markers of identity creation (for the victim) and securitisation (of the state).


  • Director of SS5000 Programme
  • Human Geography Field-Trip Co-ordinator
  • Departmental Careers Link


Research Interests

  • Legal Geographies
  • Trafficking & Forced Migration
  • Geographies of Ethnicity
  • Critical Media Geographies


Teaching Interests

  • GG1001 Geography: Earth, Environment and Society – Space and Place & Dundee Fieldtrip
  • GG2012 Processes, Perspectives and Ideas in Geography – Themes in Geographic Thought
  • GG3201/3202/3203 Method, Field, Data: Researching Geographies in Practice – Qualitative Methods & Field Course in Human Geography
  • GG4297/4298 Research Dissertation in Geography – Coordinator
  • GG4201 Advanced Debates in Geography
  • SS5000 Research Training in Social Sciences