Professor Hester Parr
- Professor (School of Geographical & Earth Sciences)
I have wide ranging research interests spanning questions of health, mental health, nature-encounters, political activisms, collaborative methods and emotional geographies, creative geohumanities.
I routinely work with community organisations and research partners to deliver a 'geography that matters' wherever possible.
Social and cultural geographies /geohumanities of mental health and illness
My previous research has investigated the relationship between mental health and place by focusing on how ‘mentally ill identities’ are defined by reference to streets, institutions, cities, regions, virtualities, natures and mobilities (Parr, 2008). This is achieved through examining the politics of psychiatric service users and city-wide activisms; spaces of ‘mad’ identity formation (Parr and Philo, 1995); the provision and politics of third sector services; delusional testimony; remote rural care provision; online community development and peer support (Parr, 2008); urban nature work (Parr, 2007), artistic citizenships (Parr, 2006) and mobility (Parr and Fyfe, 2013, Parr et al, 2017, Stevenson et al, 2018). The person with mental health problems is transformed through this body of work from stigmatised outsider to nuanced and networked social citizen (Parr, 2008). The work centres a diverse collection of voices and experiences which are consistently neglected or marginalised. This work takes mental illness seriously but with ramifications for debates about public and population mental health and policing (Parr and Fyfe, 2013).
Creative methods / geohumanities
Over my career I have been interested in developing sensitive methodologies for working with often vulnerable people. My ways of researching have constituted a sustained attempt to make research inclusive for people with mental health problems, whose lives may be very much outside of the usual remits/reach of academia. My research practices have pushed boundaries of methodological norms within the context of robust ethical argument. As a result I have interests and experience in overt and covert ethnographies on streets, shelters, in gardens and on-line. I have also engaged in collaborative film-making, focus groups, interviews-on-the-move, internet surveys and email-based research relationships, telephone interviewing and forms of co-writing.
My diverse ways of researching have been a sustained attempt to make research inclusive for people with mental health problems whose lives may be very much outside of the usual remits/reach of academia. I'm interested in methodological practices and forms of writing that reach out to people who find standard ‘research talk’ very difficult.
Walking, (co-)writing, digging, body-talk, film-making and story-telling have all comprised ways to engage and co-research the lives of often neglected others.
The creative methods articulated in the ESRC Geographies of Missing People project used a protective and composite approaching to ‘storying’ missing people’s narratives, an approach maximising public exposure to the research and making it easier for user groups to access the key messages that missing people convey about their difficult and complex mobilities (eg Parr and Stevenson, 2014). The legacy of this research has shaped policing and government policy and been used in police and professional training.
Between 2011-2014 I worked on the ESRC funded project 'Geographies of Missing People: experiences, processes, responses' (Hester Parr, PI, Nick Fyfe, Dundee CI, Penny Woolnough Grampian Police, CI) This project was a collaboration between Police Scotland and the MPS London, the UK Missing Persons Bureau and the Missing People charity. The project investigated the geographies of missing persons and the geographical knowledges of the people and agencies that search for them. See http://www.geographiesofmissingpeople.org.uk/. The project was awarded a national prize in 2013 for excellence in Applied Policing Research and this was presented by the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill. The project was also in receipt of the ESRC 2015 Outstanding Impact Award and the Royal Geographical Society awarded me the 2018 Back Award.
I am currently exploring collaborative engagements between cultural geography and social psychiatry via research on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I am writing on geohumanities, pedagogy and mental health (McGeachan and Parr, 2018).
I was awarded BA (Geography) from University of Wales (Lampeter) in 1991. I went on to complete a PGCE (Geography and Expressive Arts) in secondary education from Manchester Metropolitan University (1992) before returning to Lampeter to undertake my PhD in Lampeter (awarded 1997).
I taught human geography at the University of Dundee between 1997 and 2008, during which time I was an ESRC research fellow from 2004-2007.
I joined the University of Glasgow as Reader in 2009 after a years maternity leave for my son. I become Professor of Human Geography in 2015.
Parr, H. (2008) Mental Health and Social Space : Towards Inclusionary Geographies? Series: RGS-IBG book series. Blackwell Publishing: Malden, MA ; Oxford. ISBN 9781405168922
The ESRC funded 'Geographies of Missing People ' project is a collaboration between academics, police and the Missing People charity: see a range of resources and outcomes: http://www.geographiesofmissingpeople.org.uk/.
The Glasgow Knowledge Exchange Fund facilitaed the research impact legacgy of the missing people work
The ESRC 2015 Award is facilitating on-going engagement with police, charity and policy partners.
Mark Lucherini: 'Everyday geographies of diabetes'
Mhairi Paterson: 'Set in stone? Building a new geography of the dry stone wall'
Sophie Shuttleworth: Language geographies / language on the move
Nial Smith: Geographies of Epilepsy
Anna Schliehe: Young female offenders in Scotland's carceral geographies'
Alice Lasney: The Fairgound and Show People of Scotland
Eleanor Martin: Geographies of work and mental health
Rachel Clive: Geoversity, disability and theatre practice (with Arts)
Jamie Arathoon: Assistance animals and disability geographies
Joe Apps (Dundee) Missing geographies
SGSSS supervisor led PGR (starting 2019) Changing faces and the geographies of appearance
- Clive, Rachel
Geodiversity and human difference: disability, landscape form and process
- Lacsny, Elisabeth
‘Our true intent is all for your delight’: mobility, artistry, craft and technology at work in Scotland’s travelling funfair.
- Martin, Eleanor
Building the Clubhouse: the geographies of ‘working communities’ as spaces of mental health recovery in the UK.
Embodied social geographies honours option
Level 2 Emotional geographies
Level 3 Core teaching and Geographic Thought
Level 3 Ethics
Level 4 Senior Honours Seminars
MRES in Human Geography