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Professor Melissa Butcher

  • Overview



    Melissa is a social and cultural geographer using ethnographic, visual and participatory methodologies to examine questions of identity and belonging within contexts of cultural change and contested urban space. She has been Principle and Co-Investigator on several UKRI, European and ARC funded projects in London, Delhi, Singapore and Sydney,   including 'Learning from Small Cities: Governing Imagined Futures and the Dynamics of Change in India's Smart Urban Age' (2018-2020, ESRC-ICSSR), 'SINGLE: Entanglements of Urban Space, Cultural Encounters and Gendered Identities in Delhi and Shanghai' (, 2013-16,HERA), and 'Creating Hackney as Home' (, 2013-2015, ESRC). Melissa has taught in universities in the UK, Ireland and Australia, as well as working in the corporate and development sectors, practicing as an intercultural consultant, trainer and facilitator in industry, community and government sectors. Melissa presents and writes regularly on issues relating to cultural diversity, mobility, gentrification, urban and youth cultures, social cohesion, globalisation, and global human resources management.



    • PhD, Macquarie University, Sydney, 2000
    • MPhil, Trinity College, Dublin, 1994
    • BA (Journalism), Charles Sturt University, Australia, 1988

    Web profiles

    Administrative responsibilities

    • Assistant Dean, Geography

    Professional memberships

    • Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy

    • Fellow, Royal Geographical Society


  • Research


    Research interests

    • Globalisation and cultural change
    • Cultural diversity and social cohesion
    • Identity, difference and belonging
    • Urban transformation and gentrification
    • Youth and urban cultures
    • Intercultural training and skills

    Research overview

    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.

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    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

    Current doctoral researchers


    Doctoral alumni



    I currently teach on the following modules:

    • Cities in the Global South
    • Critical Social Geographies
    • Contesting Culture
    • Research Applications in Human Geography: Delhi field trip
    • Understanding the City

    Teaching modules

    • Introduction to Human Geography (GGPH070S4)
    • Research Applications in Human Geography, Delhi Field Trip Level 6 (SSGE085S6)
    • Cities in the Global South (Level 6) (SSGE093S6)
  • Publications




    Book Section