The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Dr Matej Blazek

Lecturer in Human Geography

Background

I am Lecturer in Human Geography and Senior Tutor for single honours Geography programmes.

My work spans social and political geography with separate but inter-connected interests in childhood and in marginalised migrants. What brings these two themes together is the focus on agency and commitment to collaborative praxis with partners from within and outside academia.

Before coming to Newcastle in 2017, I was a lecturer at the Loughborough University (2012-2016) and a researcher for the International Organization for migration (2012-2013).


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SCOPUS

Teaching

My Feedback, Guidance and Consultation hours for the first semester of 2019/20 are:

Tuesday: 14:00-15:00 & Wednesday: 09:00-11:00

In 2019/20, I lead the Stage 2 fieldtrip to Vienna and Bratislava.

Additionally, I am the Peer Mentoring Coordinator for Geography and would be happy to talk to students interested in mentoring.

Research

My main interest is in how people too often found to lack capacities to act can transform their lives, their communities, and the world far beyond. Thematically, my research has evolved around two areas - childhood and marginalised migrants - and I am open to collaborations with academics and non-academics interested in these topics. Also very happy to hear from students (postgraduate and undergraduate) looking for supervision on these themes. I tend to work collaboratively and my commitment is to mutually beneficial and fair engagement with partners from outside academia.

(Some publications linked below should be freely accessible via Newcastle University depository or my ResearchGate profile. If they are not, I am happy to share them directly.)

The work on children and young people has addressed the following themes:

  • My biggest academic passion is in children's agency, understood as the capacity to act and make a difference. A monograph Rematerialising Children's Agency published with Policy Press considered how children's actions emerge from a variety of factors, from material objects through everyday routines to notions of social identity, and how taking these seriously can reshape adult politics of childhood. More recently, I explored how an extended notion of agency can help us better understand process of human trafficking
  • My second big interest in children's and young people's emotional geographies. The work in this area includes a co-edited special issue of Emotion, Space and Society on theories and methodologies of children's emotional geographies, and a co-edited book Children's Emotions in Policy and Practice with Palgrave that took these debates into the sphere of policy and professional practice. Elsewhere I reflected on the potential of psychoanalysis in children's emotional geographies, emotional lens of adult politics of childhood, and wrote a couple of review essays (here and here).
  • I am interested in geographies of youth work, having undertaken research in a dual role of researcher and practitioner. Publications include writings on youth mentoring, detached youth work and methodologies of ethnographic research in a youth worker role.
  • I have interest in methodologies of research with children and young people, including ethnography, psychoanalytic and participatory approaches. In writing I have most widely focused on participatory video (here, here and here).
  • A theme present through my research with children is geographies of gender, particularly in the context of friendship and care.
  • At present, I am engaged in work considering transnational youth (im)mobilities.

A more recent area of my work has regarded migrants and marginalisation. More specifically:

  • I took part in a nation-wide study of migrants' experience with violence,abuse and exploitation in Slovakia which shifted attention to areas not traditionally seen as immigration countries and highlighted factors behind susceptibility to multiple forms of abuse and exploitation.
  • More recently, I investigated processes of human trafficking between Slovakia and the United Kingdom, arguing that human trafficking needs to be seen as a social justice problem of inequality and structural marginalisation.
  • Currently, my research focus is on the shifting patterns of marginalisation after Brexit, particularly within Roma communities in the UK.

These research themes have been surrounded by two additional interests that permeate much of my work:

One is the politics of academia, specifically in relation to ethics of care as a medium of academic impact, the role of emotions in producing and challenging academic spaces and practices, and on volunteering-practitioner modes of research and relationship-centred perspectives on ethics.

The other topic, given that much of my work is situated in Central Europe, has to do with conceptualising post-socialism, specifically through dialogic (rather than dialectic) thinking.

Publications