Dr Jonathan Pugh
Senior Academic Fellow

Research Interests

Development studies

Postcolonial studies

Caribbean societies

Small Islands development 

Environmental development

Participatory planning

Radical Politics



Postcolonialism and the everyday 

Jonathan Pugh is a Postcolonial Geographer who researches and teaches on questions of everyday postcolonial institutional development. He is particularly interested in the everyday working lives of those who develop the institutions of the Caribbean in the post-independence era. What is everyday life like for civil servants working for the Caribbean State, planners in the town planning office, those wanting to develop environmental NGOs, or cultural institutions, for examples? What struggles and feelings of impasse do these people face in their daily routines as they attempt to develop Caribbean institutions in the independence era? Have the ideals of independence been lost, or, do these keep resurfacing and being refolded into everyday life in new ways?


Since 1998 Jonathan has analyzed a wide variety of contemporary Caribbean institutions, from organisations concerned with town planning, participatory planning, sustainable and physical development and environmental management, to folklore traditions and political activism. Jonathan takes a particular interest in those moments in the development of Caribbean institutions when inherited frameworks are thrown into doubt by the people who work for them. When this happens, do new possibilities for postcolonial futures emerge, or, is there something of a return to the status quo? What opens up the possibilities for change when the mundane has been thrown into doubt? With this particular interest in crises, moments of doubt and scepticism in the everyday, Jonathan is particularly interested in the work of Stanley Cavell, Derek Walcott and Lauren Berlant.


After completing his ESRC-funded PhD on participatory planning in Barbados and St Lucia in 2002, Jonathan received two RC Fellowships (totaling 8 years) to continue work on contemporary Caribbean institutional development. In 2007 he was made Senior Academic Fellow in Territorial Governance at Newcastle University, UK, and in 2008 was made the first Honorary Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster.


Jonathan has published three books and more than forty media commentaries, interviews and academic articles in journals including Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers/Royal Geographical Society, Progress in Human Geography and Annals of the Association of American Geographers, as well as British Broadcasting Corporation, the Jamaican Observer, and the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He has also been involved in a range of practical programmes. For example, co-initiating a seven-country programme involving 128 Caribbean fisherpeople funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to stimulate the development of fishing community networks across the eastern Caribbean.


Work has been reviewed in a range of outlets, including New Statesman, Red Pepper, Soundings, the Big Issue, Compass, the British Council, Catholic Herald, Left Foot Forward, Fabian Review, Total Politics, Town and Country Planning and the Times Higher Educational Supplement. Jonathan has also undertaken guest lectures at the Universities of California, West Indies, Westminster, Cornell and Harvard.



Recent and Forthcoming Keynote Addresses

International Geographical Union Commission on Islands, Penghu Islands (Pescadores), Taiwan Strait, October 2013.

ISISA Islands of the World Conference XIII Penghu 2014, Penghu Islands (Pescadores), Taiwan Strait, September 2014.

Island Cities and Urban Archipelagos, 21-25 October, 2014, Copenhagen, Denmark

Invited by PhD and Masters Students of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Newcastle University, to give the Keynote Address at their 2014 Annual Conference.  



Public engagement: The Great Debate

The Great Debate is a group of people based in the North East of England who believe that social debate and the development of people's voices are a vital elements to the institutions of society. We have organised over 100 events in the last 15 years on topics ranging from theories of human nature and internet freedom to development, sustainability and environment (http://www.thegreatdebate.org.uk). In 2007, The Great Debate co-authored a successful United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development, which was recognised by the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies.  


For potential PhD students

Jonathan is interested in supervising PhD's on the following topics:-

Caribbean Development: Students are invited to submit proposal on any aspects of contemporary Caribbean development, governance or planning.

Contemporary Island Development: Students are invited to submit proposals that analyse any aspects of contemporary Island development. Proposals seeking to undertake empirical analysis of governmental, non-governmental or inter-government practices are particularly welcome.

Institutional Development in the post-colonial world: Students are invited to submit proposals examining any aspects of institutional development in the post-colonial world. Those with a contemporary angle are particularly welcomed.

Participatory Development: Students are invited to submit proposals that examine all aspects of participatory development. Potential projects could include the changing nature of participatory planning, institutional capacity building and collaborative approaches to planning in the Global South. PhD proposals that examine the policy, practice and theory of participatory development will be reviewed.  

Everyday Geographies of Development: Students are invited to submit proposals that investigate the everyday geographies of development and, in doing so, analyse what we mean by 'the everyday' and 'development' themselves.

Resilience: Students are invited to submit proposals that examine any aspect of the shift toward 'resilience' in development policy and practice. 



Present Supervision

Dana James (Fulbright Scholar).

Jade Wilkes (PhD NEDTC award winner).

Farah Nibbs. 

Roles and Responsibilities

Geography Tutor and liaison Geography and Planning BA Honours Degree.

Academic Coordinator of the Geography Staff-Student Committee

Full Membership: Newcastle University Public Lectures Committee


PhD (Geography, London).

Previous Positions

Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, Westminster.


Fellow of Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers; Member Royal Institute of Philosophy; Newcastle Philosophical Society.

Honours and Awards

ESRC PhD studentship (1998-2001)

Three year ESRC Fellowship (2002-2005) (graded 'Outstanding').

RCUK Fellow in Territorial Governance (2005-2010).

Member of Newcastle University 'Faculty Futures' programme.

In 2008, made the first Honorary Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster. 

Peer Review

ESRC, Leverhulme, European Union, British Academy, Australian Research Council.

Editorial Boards

Island Studies Journal

International Intervention and Statebuilding

Journal of Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses



Previous research interests: the various expressions of radical politics today

In 2004 Jonathan launched the Spaces of Democracy network with Chantal Mouffe and Doreen Massey (www.spaceofdemocracy­.­org). The network ran until 2014 and involved 17 institutions worldwide and examined the nature and character of radical politics today after the spatial turn in the social sciences and humanities. In 2009 Jonathan produced the book What is Radical Politics Today?, launched and became Editor of free online magazine, Radical Politics Today. Jonathan maintains an interest in the nature and character of radical politics today.

On the book What is Radical Politics Today?:-

"Jonathan Pugh gathers some of the most innovative and insightful voices from Britain and beyond to stage a series of debates on the central issues facing radical politics today. This collection is a model for the kinds of discussion we need to move forward." (Michael Hardt, co-author of Empire).

"Radical politics is about rethinking the common sense, the taken for granted assumptions, of the age. This timely and well-planned collection of essays by distinguished and concerned scholars throws much new light on where we should be looking for new ideas. It represents a major contribution to the ongoing debate on the problems of our times." (Lord Bhikhu Parekh)

"This is a bold, brave and timely book. As we emerge, blinking into the light after three decades of neo-liberal darkness, Jonathan Pugh has put together a collection of essays that will provoke and provide clues to the question of what comes next; what indeed is radical politics today?" (Neal Lawson, Director, Compass/ Speechwriter to Gordon Brown)   






Caribbean Planning:-


Santander Mobility Fund 'What do government workers in the Caribbean think of ‘resilience’?: a pilot study' £1475.75



Newcastle University, HASS Faculty Research Fund (2011, £4,000).

Newcastle University, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology Smalls Bids Fund (2011, £1000).

Newcastle University, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology Travel Top-up Fund (2011, £500).

United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office regional programme “Developing Institutional Capital in the Fisherfolk Communities of the Caribbean” (2003, DfID, approximately £60K including funding from Caribbean businesses, charities, consultancies and academics).

Research Council United Kingdom Fellowship 2005–2010 (EP/C509005/1; £125,000).

Three year Economic and Social Research Council Research Fellow. “Developing Institutional Capital in the Neo-Liberal Era: Caribbean Environmental Planning”. (2002-2004, ESRC: R00271204, total £100,121).

“Deconstructing Participatory Environmental Planning: Dispositions of Power in Barbados and St Lucia.” Royal Holloway, University of London PhD (1998-2001, ESRC studentship: R00429834850).


Spaces of Democracy network:-

SARCHA (School of Architecture for All), Athens (Euros 80,000).

Pugh, J. Mouffe, C, Thein, D. Marres, N. Howarth, D. and Griffin, L. The Spatial Turn and Political Subjectivity in the Social Sciences and Humanities, Economic and Social Research Council Seminar Series, May 2009 – December 2011, RES-451-26-0566 (£9213.20).

Pugh, J. Massey, D. Mouffe, C. and Verges, F. The Spaces of Democracy and the Democracy of Space, Economic and Social Research Council Seminar Series, 01/01/2007-31/12/2009,RES-451-25-4226 (£20511.68).

Newcastle University Public Lecture Series (£1000).

British Academy Small Research Grant (£3564.30).

California State University (£3000).

Essex University, Department of Government (£2000).

Goldsmiths College, University of London (£3000).

The Global Urban Research Unit and the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University (£600).

University of Newcastle Faculty Futures programme (£1000).

The Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust (£600).

One North East, Newcastle University Faculty Futures Programme and Newcastle City Council (£200).

Harvard and Cornell University (£2000).

Personal Assistant for Jonathan Pugh, funded through University of Newcastle Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (£15,000).

Spaces of Democracy PhD studentship. The Institute of Research on Environment and Sustainability, and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Newcastle University (£48,000).


The Great Debate:-

Engineering Transmission Using Deliberative Events: Royal Academy of Engineering (£40,417.00) [2013].

RCE North East sponsored Living in a Changing World [2010] and The Great Debate Green Phoenix Festival programme [2010]

Northumbria University sponsored Economic Growth: Bane or Boon? [2010], The Great Sustainable Energy Debate 2008 and The Great Debate Human Nature Series 2008 (consisting of Progress of the Human Mind, Selfish Genes, Sex, and Sanity, Unnoticed Connections and Agents of Change? Darwinian Thought and Theories of Human Nature).

Newcastle University sponsored Developing World Challenges [2008], The Great Debate: Post-Territorial Governance and Anti-politics [2006], Politics of Fear: An Audience with Frank Furedi [2006], Science and the Human Potential [2006] and the second conference on Development, Sustainability and Environment (DSE2) [2005]

Green Phoenix Festival / Patchwork Planet Productions sponsored The Great Debate Green Phoenix Festival programme [2010]

Mediabox sponsored Living in a Changing World [2010]

Economic and Social Research Council sponsored: Getting Real About Climate Change [2010], Don’t Shout at the Telly, Change What's on it! [2009], Developing World Challenges [2008] and DSE3: Film Training with a Global Edge [2007]

Newcastle Science Festival sponsored: Getting Real About Climate Change [2010], Development, Sustainability and Environment 3 [2007], Science and the Human Potential [2006], The Great Energy Debate [2006], The Nature of Being Human [2005], The Great Debate: Being Human [2005], Whatever Happened to the Subject? [2004], Playing it Safe: Science and the Risk Society [2004], and Of Blank Slates and Zombies [2004]

Edinburgh University Press sponsored Agents of Change? Darwinian Thought and Theories of Human Nature [2008]

Atlantic Books sponsored: The Great Debate: Reprogramming Life [2006]

Dewjoc Architects sponsored: The Great Housing Debate [2006]

NESTA sponsored a 'Development and Environment', three day conference [2006]


Postgraduate Supervision

Carolyn Fahey (full scholarship funded by Jonathan Pugh, through the Spaces of Democracy network).

Amanda Machin, Centre for the Study of Democracy (co-supervised with Chantal Mouffe). Amanda is funded through the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, PhD scholarship, established by Jonathan Pugh.



Undergraduate Teaching

·         Geography Tutor and liaison Geography and Planning BA Honours Degree.

·         Academic Coordinator of the Geography Staff-Student Committee.

·         Contemporary Human Geography of the UK (GEO1015).

·         Advanced Study Skills (GEO2111).

·         Module leader: Putting a Social Science Degree into Practice (GEO3120).

·         Module leader: Caribbean Societies: development, voice and the everyday (GEO3125).

·         Dissertations (GEO3099).


Postgraduate Teaching

·         Nature of Explanation and Enquiry (HSS8007)

·         Masters in Human Geography: Concepts in Action (GEO 8017).