Jo Norcup 2018_website portrait

I am currently a post-doctoral honorary research fellow in historical and cultural geography at the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow and founding director of the production company Geography Workshop.

Informed by a range of feminist and intersectional ideas and approaches, my work broadly centres on geographies of education, learning and knowledge-making. I am motivated to broaden voices and versions of life to bring out diverse ways of writing and representing the world. Working across a range of historical and cultural materials to inform contemporary debates, current research areas include:

  • DIY education publications & archives.

My doctoral research focused on the recovery of the journal issues, correspondence archives, oral histories & biographies of an anticipatory intersectional DIY geography education journal series Contemporary Issues in Geography (CIGE) and Education (1983 – 1991) and the people and movement surrounding its publishing life (PhD, University of Glasgow). Since completing my PhD, I continue working with the archive and bringing forward some of the anticipatory intersectional ambitions of the publication.  In 2018, the back catalogue of the entire series of CIGE has been digitised and can be accessed for free download on the Geography Workshop website here.

  • Decolonizing education.

Informed by my doctoral research and recent discussions regarding decolonizing the academy, I am interested in considering the role of the learned society within these debates.  My research centres on the legacies of the Royal Geographical Society / British Council’s 1998 photographic exhibition Photos and Phantasms which I worked on as an undergraduate, revisiting the stories around the exhibition itself, and exploring the legacies of ideas and material cultures connected with the exhibition, and what the intervening uses and (re)presentation of the archive and exhibition can critically enlighten about the ways in which unlocked archival practices configure across broader cultures of education, power, and knowledge-making.

  • Public Library Geographies.

Public Library Geographies explores the diverse human geographies and their intersections that can be examined through studying across a range of temporal and spatial scales the institution of the Public Library. Researching the historical and cultural geographies of Public Libraries and Geographies of Knowledge considers the pioneering work of public library advocates in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the regional and national campaigns in the UK that pioneered initiatives such as children’ libraries that led to the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act. I have given a number of papers about public library geographies and publishing about some aspects of this can be found here.

  • Geographies of popular culture  / Comedy Geographies.

I am keen to take seriously popular cultural media and the way it informs and shapes imagined and real landscapes and ideas about the world.  I am currently interested in the “tiny revolution” (Orwell 1945) that popular comedy can initiate and how it asks audiences to question the established ordering of the world. How comedy achieves this across a range of formats and comedy genres complements broader research into the geographies of popular media, such as satirical cartoons, the historical legacies of music hall and popular comedy dramas on TV. Currently, this includes working with Dr Innes Keighren (Royal Holloway) on Landscapes of Detectorists.

  • Vernacular nature and environmental knowledges (Green witches and cunning folk).

I have explored ideas of environmental sustainability, nature, Englishness, and geographies of dissent, transgression and resistance through (auto)ethnographic research an anti-roads protest (The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act and Newbury bypass roads protests 1995/1996 – MRes, RHUL(1998).

I remain particularly interested in the way working class women knowledges are documented and recorded and have undertaken research into the disappearance of post-war working class landscapes in West Hampstead and in particular recovering the stories of working class women lives from four streets in NW6 (BA, RHUL(1995). I remain interested in the ways in which everyday knowledges are transferred through stories and the idea of ‘old wives tales’, and how these shape understanding and interactions with the natural world.


Geography Workshop Productions Ltd.

In 2015, I founded Geography Workshop  a small-scale independent scholarly-informed creatively inspired production company to produce media and educational resources, and bespoke workshops, and field trips to ignite and inspire delegates and audiences to be curiously creative, to think, to listen, to learn and to facilitate the communication of stories, lives, people and places that might otherwise be overlooked.

*Geography Workshop Presents …. ‘Er Outdoors

Producing radio broadcasts to sounds, voices and versions of life otherwise ignored by mainstream media. Since 2016, working with Michael Umney at Resonance FM developing radio programmes broadcast by Resonance FM Clear Spot] and developing programme ideas for other broadcast companies (a programme based on the ‘Er Outdoors series, called Women Who Walk (part of BBC Radio 4’s The Art of Now occasional series) can be found here.


I have taken time out of academia over the past 20 years and worked in a range of jobs including as a secondary school geography teacher, environmental conservation educator, gardener, carer, freelance education adviser, a whole array of retail, cleaning, administration and temp jobs (often multiple jobs while studying), as a supporting artiste for TV drama, and worked as a home tutor for a pupil referral unit.