Dr Eleanor Wilkinson

School of Geography and Planning

Interdisciplinary Senior Research Fellow

Eleanor Wilkinson
Profile picture of Eleanor Wilkinson

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Dr Eleanor Wilkinson
School of Geography and Planning
Geography and Planning Building
Winter Street
S3 7ND

Eleanor joined the University of Sheffield in 2024 as an Interdisciplinary Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Previously she was Associate Professor of Human Geography at the University of Southampton, where she served as Faculty lead for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion. Eleanor has previously held posts as an ESRC Future Research Leader and a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow. She has also held funded visiting positions as at the Centre of Gender Excellence (GEXcel) hosted by Örebro University, and the Department for Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney.

Eleanor is feminist cultural and social geographer. Her research is concerned with the political life of emotions and affect, with a particular focus on intimate life, power and ideology. Her work centres around the various ways in which normative ideals of the ‘good life’ can fail and falter— the gaps, fissures, the moments when we desire something more. She is interested in how power is secured and maintained, but also, how power is challenged and transformed through the emergence of new forms of affective relationality. Her research seeks to expand the affective registers through which progressive social change can be imagined, thinking in particular about how feelings of disaffection and ambivalence can help us imagine other life-worlds.

She has an interdisciplinary educational background, with a BA in English and American Studies, an MA in Gender Studies, and a PhD in Human Geography.

Research interests

Eleanor’s research focusses on the following interrelated areas:

  • Feminist and queer theory
  • The politics of affect and emotion
  • Precarity, housing and home
  • Infrastructures of care and social transformation
  • Loneliness and solitude

Her previous ESRC-funded research (2015-2019) focused on the slow violence of austerity and neoliberal welfare retrenchment. This work examined the ‘ordinary affects' of housing precarity, asking what happens when infrastructures fail and people find themselves violently cut off from the world. This study focused on the experiences of young welfare recipients living in the private rental sector across England and Wales, using an intersectional framework to explore issues of displacement, violence and mental health. The research resulted in subsequent collaborative project with the Young Women’s Trust on young women’s experiences of living in precarious homes (funded by an ESRC Impact Acceleration award). The final report from this collaborative project is available here.

Eleanor's current research focuses on two interconnected projects:

1. The feminist politics of loneliness: Eleanor is currently writing a monograph on the feminist politics of loneliness, asking what a specifically feminist theorisation might bring to contemporary conceptualisations of loneliness. This work starts from the proposition that loneliness is not just personal but political. This project brings together her research on loneliness and single life into dialogue with her wider work on precarity and neoliberal abandonment. Some of the formative ideas for this monograph have been published in her article 'Loneliness is a Feminist Issue'.

2. Queer lives in turbulent times: Eleanor is working on a series of participatory projects around ‘LGBTQ+ community formation,' and 'rainbow infrastructures of care' during times of crisis, and rising anti-gender populism. This stand of research is currently being expanded into a project on queer world-making and 'better futures': exploring the role that hope plays in making the present bearable, alongside an examination of the political possibilities of the already here.


Journal articles


Teaching interests

Eleanor is a Senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is not currently contributing to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching but is available for doctoral supervision. She would welcome applications from prospective doctoral students interested in the following areas:

  • feminist and / or queer geographies
  • critical loneliness studies
  • precarity, housing and home
  • the politics of radical care / shadow care infrastructures
  • theories and practices of social transformation
  • participatory and creative methodologies

Please feel free to contact her to discuss potential ideas for PhD projects.