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Research areas

Read more about our different research areas.

Cities, Environment, Landscape

The Cities Environment Landscape (CEL) research group performs research and education on a broad spectrum of issues of major global concern regarding urbanization, political ecology and landscape change. The CEL group participates in international collaborative research programs, including the EU, Asia and North America, publishes widely, teaches on related themes in courses at all levels from undergraduate to doctoral courses, and engages in public lectures, debates and political forums. 

Urban, environmental and landscape geography traditionally belongs to the core of teaching and research at the Department of Human Geography. Urban geography focuses primarily on basic social problems that unfold in the urban arena: gentrification, polarization, segregation, urban conflict, the use of public space, urban politics, and the role of finance and crisis in shaping urban landscapes.

Environmental research at the department comprises critical investigations of (urban) sustainability notions, risk management, and political-ecological analyses of island societies and the leisure industries. Research on the landscape comprises both historical and current processes of change. Landscape is understood not only as the physical environment, or a vision, but rather as a nexus of natural processes, social interaction, power relations, practice and customs.

The CEL research group is affiliated with and collaborates in the “Lund University Centre of Excellence for Integration of Social and Natural Dimensions of Sustainability” (LUCID) and the Nordforsk-funded “Nordic Landscape Research Network” (NLRN).

Research projects of the Cities Environment Landscape research group address questions concerning among other issues:

  • accumulation by dispossession
  • the Arctic land grab and the oil commodity frontier
  • drivers and effects of agricultural land use change
  • ecologically unequal exchange and formation of landesque capital
  • film and visual methodologies
  • financial crisis and urban development
  • financialization of the built environment
  • gentrification and filtering
  • the historical geography of Scania (Skåne)
  • ideologies and produced landscapes of cultural heritage
  • island development
  • the landscape of the great landed estates
  • neoliberal urban politics in Asian cities
  • neoliberalization of housing and polarization in Swedish cities
  • neoliberalizing the countryside
  • planning of the peri-urban landscape
  • the political economy of space
  • the socialist city
  • transport mega-projects and tourism development in Mallorca
  • uneven development
  • urban dystopias

Development geography

Development geography treats questions and issues related to how people in the Global South make a living and how the conditions for livelihoods varies within and between countries and regions, and among different groups of individuals. Research at the Department has a focus on agriculture – both in the countryside and in urban areas – especially in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. All research carried out at the Department involves cooperation with researchers in different countries in the Global South and is based on interdisciplinary research collaboration, either within our outside the social sciences. Research within development geography is theoretically as well as empirically driven, and uses different methods and techniques to understand processes of social, economic and environmental change in these countries. The research undertaken by the group draws on both qualitative and quantitative methods, in combination with remote sensing techniques. 

Research activities are based on a number of different projects, which are financed through external grants. At present projects concerned with the following themes are being led from the Department: 

  • How men and women combine agricultural livelihoods with other types of incomes and how this varies with gender roles in different village settings in Kenya, Ghana, Malawi and Zambia.
  • Urban agriculture in small and mediums sized towns in Ghana and Kenya as a source of income and food, but also potential environmental challenges arising from urban food production. 
  • How household income is evolving among small scale Vietnamese rice farmers in the context of a dynamic and rapidly growing rural economy. 

Researchers in the group are also participating in projects that are being led from outside the Department, revolving around the following issues:

  • Unsustainable hunting of gorillas and chimpanzees in relation to people’s livelihoods in forest areas in Nigeria and Cameroon. 
  • The use of environmentally friendly technologies in rural areas – the case of biochar in Kenya. 
  • Management of water resources as a way of alleviating poverty in the Lake Chad Basin 
  • Keeping of livestock in Phnom Pen, Cambodia
  • Consequences of the Aids pandemic in Africa, with a special focus on Tanzania 

Economic geography

Economic geography is growing in importance within social science. In Times Higher Education ranking of the most important research fronts in the social sciences 2003-2008, ‘relational and evolutionary economic geography’ was ranked as No. 3.

Traditionally, the optimal localization of industry and services were the main issues of economic geography. Location theories and models dominated and anchored the subject within mainstream economics. The majority of contemporary economic geography research is, however, based on more heterodox, institutional and evolutionary approaches to economics with an overwhelming amount of research directed towards innovation, competitiveness and regional growth in various settings, the importance of externalities, and spatial dimensions of long term economic transformation.

Basic and applied policy relevant research in economic geography deliver important contributions to the understanding of economic growth, competitiveness, innovation, welfare creation, and globalization with special focus on the development of cities and regions.

In Lund, research in economic geography is primarily directed towards the following research areas. One direction is dealing with spatial dimensions of technology shifts, agglomeration and regional transformation in a long time perspective. The overarching perspective comes from micro and macro evolutionary economic geography.

Another direction is focusing on international comparative analyses of regional innovation systems, inter-organisational collaborations and the importance of sectorial and regional differences for innovativeness and regional development, mainly based on an institutional/relational approach.

A third direction studies the economies of cities and regions, focusing urban dimensions of the knowledge economy, labour market dynamics and the geography of highly skilled labour.

A forth and complementary direction focuses on regional innovation policies and local and regional development strategies, including strategies for developing cross-border regions. 

Finally, a fifth research topic is the economic geography of sustainability transitions, which focuses on analysing how factors such as regional industrial structure can help understand why some areas pull ahead of others in terms of sustainability transitions.

Human Ecology (HEK)

Research at the Human Ecology Division focuses on issues at the interfaces between political ecology, ecological economics, environmental history, and environmental anthropology. The division has achieved a reputation of addressing analytically complex and morally charged trans-disciplinary questions relating to the unequal global distribution of purchasing-power, resources, and technology. In approaching case studies of human-environmental relations in different parts of the world, it consistently emphasizes cultural, historical, and global aspects.

Since its establishment in 1994, the Human Ecology Division has hosted well over twenty major research projects on a variety of topics relating to human-environmental relations in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. The topics investigated by researchers at the division include ecologically unequal exchange, environmental load displacement, political ecology, various forms of land use (e.g. agriculture, pastoralism, gathering, forestry, tourism), indigenous movements and ecocosmologies, the modernization of environmentalism, world-system approaches to environmental history, perceptions of high-tech infrastructure (e.g. nuclear waste storage, railway tunnels), the ethnoarchaeology and metabolism of ancient societies, and the ethnic and socio-ecological aspects of prehistoric language dispersals.

Researchers currently (2014) employed at the Human Ecology Division are Alf Hornborg, Thomas Malm, Pernille Gooch, Anders Burman, Andreas Malm, Kenneth Hermele, Ragnheidur Bogadóttir, Rikard Warlenius, Martin Oulu, Gregory Pierce, Sanna Händén-Svensson, and Sarah Kollnig.

Page Manager:

The Department of Human Geography
and the Human Ecology Division

Address: Sölvegatan 10,
223 62 Lund
Phone: 046-222 17 59

Faculty of Social Sciences