The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Dr Jonathan Pugh

Senior Academic Fellow




·      Small Islands and Archipelagos 
·      Anthropocene 
·      Contemporary Caribbean 
·      Participatory development
·      Changing nature of critique


To download publications 



Jonathan’s main areas of research are islands and archipelagos. He 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. More recently, Jonathan has extended this concern for island relations to focus upon how island relations are being reconfigured in the Anthropocene. Islands are the emblematic figure of the Anthropocene, and Jonathan has produced a number of papers on this topic which position and explore how islands studies can trouble and critically speak back to wider debates about the Anthropocene. To this end, he is presently working on a monograph which makes the claim for and examines schematic shifts in island ontology, politics and ethics in the Anthropocene. Entitled ‘Anthropocene Islands: new approaches to ontology, politics and ethics' this book will explore and critique how island relations are being reconfigured through dominant debates and practices associated with the Anthropocene; through, for examples, influential tropes of resilience, eco-island technologies, indigeneity, posthumanist and speculative ontologies (under contract with Rowman and Littlefield, Rethinking the Island Series).

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 2014, involved 17 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.




2004 – 2014 Director ‘The Spaces of Democracy’ network (co-founded with Doreen Massey and Chantal Mouffe).

2003 – 2005 Director of the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office Caribbean regional programme ‘Developing Institutional Capital in the Fisherfolk Communities of the Caribbean’ 

2005-2010 United Kingdom Research Council’s Fellowship in Territorial Governance (EP/C509005/1).

2002 – 2004 Three year Economic and Social Research Council Research Fellowship, Royal Holloway, University of London/Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster. ‘Developing Institutional Capital in the Neo-Liberal Era: Caribbean Environmental Planning’. (ESRC: R00271204. Graded ‘Outstanding’)



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

· Small Islands and Archipelagos 
· Anthropocene (resilience, indigeneity, posthumanist and speculative ontologies, hope, rethinking and critiquing relationality in the Anthropocene)
· Contemporary Caribbean 
· Participatory approaches
· Changing nature of critique





  • Beth Robertson (2018-) 
  • Carl Olsson (2019-)
  • Ben Bowsher (2019-) 




  1. International Geographical Union Commission on Islands, Penghu Islands (Pescadores), Taiwan Strait, October 2013.
  2. International Small Island Studies Association, Islands of the World Conference XIII Penghu 2014, Penghu Islands (Pescadores), Taiwan Strait, September 2014.
  3. Island Cities and Urban Archipelagos, 21-25 October, 2014, Copenhagen, Denmark
  4. Negotiating Waters: Seas, Oceans and Passageways in the Colonial and Postcolonial Anglophone World, ILCEA 4 – University of Grenoble Alpes & Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), February 15th and 16th, 2018






Invited talks include: Institute of Advanced studies at Princeton, Virginia Tech, Harvard, Trinity College Dublin, Rutgers, Vienna, Zurich, Cornell, Durham, California, West Indies, London, Westminster, and National Taiwan Normal University. Visiting Fellowships: University of West Indies and Virginia Tech.






  • Founder and administrator 'Islands philosophy' ( 
  • Deputy Editor (Island Theory and Philosophy), Island Studies Journal.
  • Editorial Board, Island Studies Journal.
  • Book Reviews Editorial Member, Island Studies Journal
  • Editorial Board of Shima: the international journal of research into island cultures
  • Editorial Board Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses
  • Editorial Board of the Journal of Intervention and State-Building.
  • Founder and Chief Editor Radical Politics Today (2004-2014).






  • Executive Board Member of the International Small Island Studies Association
  • Steering Committee of International Geographical Union on Islands
  • Fellow of Royal Geographical Society/ Institute of British Geographers.
  • Member of Royal Geographical Society/ Institute of British Geographers Research Groups: Geographies of Justice, Social and Cultural Geography, and History and Philosophy of Geography.
  • American Association of Geographers Caribbean Speciality Group Organising Committee






  • 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)

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).