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Dr Melissa Butcher

Professor, Social and Cultural Geography

BA (Charles Sturt University, NSW)
MPhil (Trinity College, Dublin)
PhD (Macquarie University, Sydney)


  • Melissa is a social and cultural geographer whose research examines the impact of global mobility and local transformation in urban spaces, focusing on questions of identity and belonging as well as the skills needed to manage cultural change and positions of difference. Using ethnographic, participatory and visual methods, Melissa has led research projects in London, Delhi, Singapore and Sydney, examining the local impacts of globalization, including migration, economic liberalization and urban redevelopment. Melissa has taught in universities in the UK, Ireland and Australia, as well as working in the corporate and development sectors. She has practiced as an intercultural consultant, trainer and facilitator in industry, community and government sectors. Her recent publications include: Defying Delhi's Enclosures: Strategies for Managing a Difficult City (2018); Re-working encounter: the role of reflexivity in managing difference (2017); Managing Cultural Change: Reclaiming Synchronicity in a Mobile World (Ashgate 2011), and Dissent and Cultural Resistance in Asia's Cities (ed. with S. Velayutham, Routledge 2009). Melissa presents and writes regularly on issues relating to cultural diversity, urban redevelopment & gentrification, globalisation, and urban cultures.

Research and Teaching

    Research Interests

    Melissa’s current research focuses on exploring the dynamics of cultural change in globalising cities: analysing urban space as a contested site of meaning and power reflected in intercultural encounters; understanding how these encounters are patterned by the built environment and affective responses to cultural change; and documenting how skills such as reflexivity and empathy are deployed to navigate diverse urban spaces, to manage positions of difference and possibility, and to resist patterns of exclusion. She is currently a Co-investigator on the ESRC-ICSSR funded project Learning from small cities: Governing imagined futures and the dynamics of change in India's smart urban age (2018-2020). Melissa was UK principal investigator on the EU HERA funded SINGLE project (2013-2016). Working with partners at the Universities of Heidelberg and Amsterdam, this project analysed intersections of class, gender and cultural encounter in Delhi and Shanghai, examining how mobility and cultural encounter impacted on women’s experience of the city. Melissa was also principal investigator of the ESRC funded Hackney as Home project exploring young people’s experience of urban transformation and gentrification in the east London borough of Hackney (2013-2015). This project aimed to understand the experience of space and space use in the formation of home and belonging, the impact of affective responses to change and difference in that process, as well as evaluate the effectiveness of visual media in capturing the sensory experience of the city. Melissa continues to work in the borough with youth and arts organisations.


    PhD/MPhil. Supervision

    I am interested in supervising in the following areas:

    • Cultural impact of globalisation
    • Cultural diversity, encounter, identity and belonging
    • Urban cultures, redevelopment and gentrification
    • Mobility and cultural change


    Journal Articles & Book Chapters

    • (2015) Butcher, M. & Morris, A., ‘Mapping Home’, in K. Murji (ed.) Investigating the Social World Open University
    • (2014) ‘Congestion’, in P. Adey, D. Bissell, K. Hannam, P. Merriman, M. Sheller (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Mobilities London/NY: Routledge
    • Mohan, G. & Butcher, M. (2013), ‘Spaces of Development: cities, mobilities and ecologies’, in Papaioannou, T. & Butcher, M. (2013), International Development in a Changing World London/NY: Bloomsbury Academic/Open University
    • (2012) ‘Creative Disturbances in Urban Space’, in R. Tyszczuk, J. Smith, Clark, N. & Butcher, M. (eds), ATLAS: Geography, Architecture and Change in an Interdependent World UK: Blackdog Publishing
    • (2011) ‘Distinctly Delhi: Affect and Exclusion in a Crowded City’, in M. Jayne & T. Edensor (eds) Urban Theory Beyond the West: A World of Cities UK: Routledge
    • (2011) Cultures of Commuting: the Mobile Negotiation of Space and Subjectivity on Delhi’s Metro Mobilities 6 (2): 237-254.
    • (2010) Navigating “New” Delhi: Moving Between Difference and Belonging in a Globalising City Journal of Intercultural Studies 31(5): 507-524
    • Harris, A. and Butcher, M. (eds) (2010). Pedestrian Crossings: Young People and Everyday Multiculturalism Special Issue, Journal of Intercultural Studies 31(5): 449-453
    • (2010) From “Fish Out of Water” to “Fitting In”: The Challenge of Finding Home in a Mobile World Special Issue: Embodied Transnationalism: Bodies in Transnational Spaces, Population, Space and Place 16(1): 23-36
    • (2009) Ties that Bind: The Strategic Use of Transnational Relationships in Demarcating Identity and Managing Difference Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 35(8): 1353-1371.
    • (2009) ‘Re-writing Delhi: Cultural Resistance and Cosmopolitan Texts’, in M. Butcher & S. Velayutham (eds), Dissent and Cultural Resistance in Asia’s Cities UK: Routledge.
    • (2008) FOB Boys, VCs and Habibs: Navigating Language in Culturally Diverse Sydney Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 34(3): 371-387
    • (2004) Universal Processes of Cultural Change: Reflecting on the Identity Strategies of Indian and Australian Youth Journal of Intercultural Studies 25(3): 215-231
    • (2003) Revisioning Sydney Space and Culture 6 (2): 187-194


    Edited Books

    • Butcher, M. & Papaioannou, T. (2013), New Perspectives in International Development London/NY: Bloomsbury Academic/Open University
    • Papaioannou, T. & Butcher, M. (2013), International Development in a Changing World London/NY: Bloomsbury Academic/Open University
    • Tyszczuk, R., Smith, J., Clark, N. & Butcher, M. (2012), ATLAS: Geography, Architecture and Change in an Interdependent World UK: Blackdog Publishing
    • Butcher, M & Velayutham, S. (2009), Dissent and Cultural Resistance in Asia’s Cities UK: Routledge
    • Butcher, M. & Thomas, M. (2003), Ingenious: Emerging Youth Cultures in Urban Australia Melbourne: Pluto Press.

Contact details


Phone: 020 3073 8456