University of St Andrews



I graduated with a B.A. (hons) degree in Geography from the University of Manchester in 1987. While studying for my PhD at the University of Keele, I researched at the University of Zimbabwe (1990-1991), took up a visiting lectureship at the University of Wiwatersrand (May/June 1991) and a temporary lectureship at the University of Keele 1992-1993. In 1994 I completed my thesis was appointed as a lecturer in Geography at the University of St Andrews.

My research has primarily focused on rural Zimbabwe and has always been qualitative. My early interests lay in the spatial dimension of gender relations but after 1997, moved in the direction of sexual decision-making and the social embeddedness of HIV. Initially I worked with married adults but more recently I have worked with young people. Using participatory research techniques and researching participatory HIV interventions, I have investigated their potential to facilitate grassroots communication and safer sexual decision-making. Empirical work has been paralleled by theoretical projects exploring participation as form of power, its spatial dimensions and the performative and contextual nature of the empowerment it effects. My interests now lie in Participatory Geographies (see Kindon, Pain, and Kesby eds. 2007, Participatory Action Research Approaches and Methods, London: Routledge) and Children’s Geographies (see Van Blerk and Kesby eds. 2008, Doing Children’s Geographies, London: Routledge) and the contribution that both fields can make to the theorisation of agency and to the achievement of socio-spatial transformation.

Current projects include: (a) research on young Zambian’s sexual heath decision-making - using drama-based methodologies, and with Matt Sothern (b) an investigation of the logics of risk management in blood donor selection, and (c) testing the feasibility of practice-based screening in blood donor selection


  • Director of PG Teaching


Research Interests

  • Blood donation policy in the UK 
  • HIV and sexual health in Africa and the UK 
  • Participatory geographies 
  • Children’s Geographies


Teaching Interests

  • MRes module: SS5101 Being a Social Scientist 
  • MRes module: SS5103 Qualitative method in Social Science 
  • Honours module: GG3201 Method, Field, Data: Researching Geographies in Practice 
  • Honours module: GG4222 Geographies of Difference: Advanced Qualitative Analysis 
  • Honours module: GG3224 HIV/AIDS in Africa

Postgraduate Students

  • Susan Pringle
  • Sarah McGarrol
  • Hannah Fitzpatrick