Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Staff Profile

Professor Jonathan Pugh

Professor of Island Studies




·Small Islands and Archipelagos 
·Abyssal Geography and Non-Relational Geographies
·Contemporary Caribbean 
·Participatory development
·Changing nature of critique


For full list of downloadable publications:





Jonathan’s main areas of research are islands and archipelagos. He has around 100 publications and is particularly noted for his development of what has come to be known as the 'relational turn' in islands studies, producing a number of influential publications examining how contemporary scholarship disrupts insular and isolated island geographies. Jonathan has held visiting fellowships, given many international keynote addresses, and/or invited lectures, including at Princeton, Harvard, Virginia Tech, London, Cornell, Vienna, Zurich, Trinity College Dublin, Rutgers, California, University of West Indies and National Taiwan Normal University. 

Jonathan presently focuses upon two key areas of work:

1] The figure of the island in the Anthropocene, where he has launched the 'Anthropocene Islands' initiative (https://anthropoceneislands.online). This gains its initial impetus from the book (2021) 'Anthropocene Islands: Entangled Worlds' (co-written with David Chandler, University of Westminster Press, in paperback and freely downloadable https://www.uwestminsterpress.co.uk/site/books/m/10.16997/book52/). It explores the widespread turn to working with islands for the generation of contemporary approaches to critical thinking, knowledge and policy practices associated with the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene Islands initiative has a monthly reading group, early career group, a special 'Anthropocene Islands' section of Island Studies Journal, and holds regular conference sessions and workshops.

2] 'Abyssal Geography' (also with David Chandler) explores how the Caribbean has become enabling for the development of a highly distinctive approach to contemporary critical thought, which we draw out as 'abyssal thought'. Stimulated by recent developments in critical Black studies, rather than rethinking the human and the world (as in the relational and ontological turns), abyssal work is non- or ante-ontological, adopting a paraontological method or approach to problematise the violence of modern and colonial ontological world-making. In 2023, Jonathan and David published the book 'The World as Abyss: the Caribbean and Contemporary Critical Thought in the Anthropocene' (Westminster University Press, paperback and freely downloadable https://www.uwestminsterpress.co.uk/site/books/m/10.16997/book72/). Information on the 'Abyssal Geography' project can be found on the ‘Anthropocene Islands’ website here: https://www.anthropoceneislands.online/page-9.html

Jonathan has also been involved in a range of practical and transformative participatory programmes in the islands of the Caribbean. For example, co-initiating a seven-country programme employing 128 Caribbean fisherpeople funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to stimulate the development of fishing community networks across the eastern Caribbean archipelago. Drawing upon such practical programmes, Jonathan has published a number of theoretical critiques of participatory approaches (Environment and Planning D: society and space, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers/Royal Geographical Society; Annals of the Association of American Geographers; Progress in Human Geography; Antipode; Area; Geoforum; Geography Compass, for examples).

Finally, such concerns often intersect with Jonathan's general interest in the changing nature of critique. In 2004 Jonathan launched the 'Spaces of Democracy' network with Chantal Mouffe and Doreen Massey. The network ran until 2016, involved 18 institutions worldwide and examined the changing character of radical politics today. Throughout this time Jonathan launched and was editor of the online magazine Radical Politics Today. In 2009 Jonathan edited the book ‘What is Radical Politics Today?’, which was covered in a range of popular media and launched by the British Council at Canada House, Trafalgar Square.



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

· Small Islands and Archipelagos 
· Anthropocene (relational ontologies and epistemologies, resilience, posthumanist and speculative ontologies, Critical Black and Indigenous Studies)
· Changing nature of critical theory: especially around the negative, non-relational and non-ontological turns.
· Contemporary Caribbean 
· Participatory approaches




  • Sean Turner (2020-) 
  • Carl Olsson (2019-)
  • Ben Bowsher (2019-)  
  • Joe Dean (2023-)




  • Voted by PhD and Masters students studying at the Faculty of Humanities of Social Sciences, Newcastle University, to give the annual plenary lecture to PhD and Masters students in the Faculty (19th June, 2014).
  • Nominated three times by undergraduate students for a Newcastle University Teaching Award.
  • Innovation Fund for Teaching, Newcastle University: Pugh, J. Hewett, C. Williams, A. Tate S. and Large, A. Developing Discursive Skills for the workplace: piloting an interactive seminar series. Quality in Learning and Teaching (QuILT) (£4995) [2012].





To download publications




Undergraduate Teaching

Globalisations, Culture and Development (GEO2103)

Dissertations (GEO3099).