Dr Eric Olund
Department of Geography
Lecturer in Human Geography
+44 114 222 7982
Full contact details
Department of Geography
Geography and Planning Building
Eric obtained his BA in Political Science and MA in liberal studies at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
He then moved to Vancouver to pursue a PhD in geography at the University of British Columbia.
After completing his doctorate he joined the Department of Geography at Sheffield as a Lecturer in September 2006.
- Research interests
- the cultural and legal production and regulation of race, gender and sexuality
- the sensory culture and geography of governmentality
- urban life in the Progressive-era United States
- critical theory (with a small 'c')—especially Benjamin, Bergson, Butler, Connolly, Deleuze, Dewey, Foucault, James
I am interested in the ways social reformers have historically attempted to regulate race in the United States at the intersection of cultural practice and public policy.
I have researched both the 'Indian Reform' movement of the 1880s and the regulation of cinema in the 1910s as projects that produced and regulated whiteness, and in particular a whiteness that was fully imbricated with a particular vision of heterosexuality.
In addition to focusing on how geographies of race have been sexualized, I look to the ways these cultural-political geographies informed debates at the time over the appropriate role of the state in the increasing regulation of society characteristic of the time, and the alternative, cultural modes of regulation proposed and tried by social reformers.
My work is very much a history of the present, and because debates over state and cultural regulation then resonate with similar debates today, I have also sought to show how such racialised regulatory geographies have reactivated in the present, specifically in the War on Terror.
I am expanding my research into these questions in three directions:
- The settlement house movement in the Progressive-era US; while recent research has focused on the internal practice and performance of settlements in the assimilation of immigrants to 'Americanism' (ie whiteness), their place in the larger city has yet to be explored in these terms. Specifically I am interested in the ways settlement house workers extended their educational and social-welfare activities through outreach programs and interactions with municipal governments, and the ways their activities along with those of their charges were racialised and sexualised.
- The regulation of prostitution in tandem with the above; with the increasing public presence of women in US cities at the turn of the last century, a moral panic over so-called white slavery led to a radical policy shift from semi-official tolerance in red-light districts to what we would term today a zero-tolerance policy. I am interested in the ways both social reformers and average citizens appear to have racialised prostitution itself as white, while racialising the spaces in which it occurred as black, and the material, geographical aspects of this shift in terms of regulating race and gender.
- The connections between social reformers in the US and UK; American reformers came from a voluntarily mobile segment of the middle class, and they often travelled to the UK and personally knew and were often related to British reformers, and so I plan to extend my research in a comparative direction by tracing the trans-Atlantic translations of reformist practices in the context of broadly similar gender politics yet starkly different racial and class politics.
- Multiple racial futures: Spatio-temporalities of race during World War I. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 35(2), 281-298. View this article in WRRO
- Afterword: When Has Sexuality Ever Been About Sex? A Review of Historical Geographies of Sexualities. Historical Geography, 43.
- The governance of the conditional. Dialogues in Human Geography, 3(2), 231-233.
- Commentary-Canadian sexualities in context. ACME, 12(2), 331-342.
- Geography Written in Lightning: Race, Sexuality, and Regulatory Aesthetics in The Birth of a Nation. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, advanced online publication.
- Cinema's milieux: governing the picture show in the United States during the Progressive era. Journal of Historical Geography, 38(1), 57-68.
- Racism and Sexual Oppression in Anglo-America: A Genealogy. Social and Cultural Geography, 12(3), 319-329.
- Governing Intimacy. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 28(1), 60-67.
- Governing intimacy. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 28(1), 60-67.
- 'Disreputable life': race, sex, and intimacy. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 28(1), 142-157.
- A governmental contest: regulating US cinema during the Progressive Era. Environment and Planning A: international journal of urban and regional research, 42(5), 1193-1209.
- Traffic in Souls: the 'new woman,' whiteness and mobile self-possession. Cultural Geographies, 16(4), 485-504.
- In the Shadows of the Tropics: Climate, Race and Biopower in 19th Century Ceylon. Urban Studies: an international journal for research in urban studies, 46(8), 1758-1759.
- From savage space to governable space: the extension of United States judicial sovereignty over Indian Country in the nineteenth century. CULT GEOGR, 9(2), 129-157.
- Another reason: Science and the imagination of modern India. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 20(1), 122-124.
- Public domesticity during the Indian reform era; or, Mrs. Jackson is induced to go to Washington. Gender, Place and Culture, 9(2), 153-166.
- Violent Geographies Routledge
- Research group
I welcome enquiries from potential PhD students who are interested in pushing the boundaries of research on the various intersections of social difference, visual culture, power and the political.
I currently supervise one PhD student who is theorising rationalities of power and affective logics of the 'post-political'.
- Teaching interests
I teach in several modules related to cultural geography at the undergraduate level.
I'm especially interested in exploring with students the ways our image-saturated culture influences how we experience the world, ourselves and other people, how this has changed over time, and what the politics are of these changes.
Thinking through art, media, architecture, literature, music and other forms of culture in a geographical way isn't often touched upon at A-level, and it's rewarding to introduce these ideas to students when they come to Sheffield.
A common comment on evaluations is, "I didn't know I could study this in Geography!"
I convene the Masters in Social and Cultural Geographies course and teach on several of its modules.
A significant amount of my teaching on this programme is related to social theory as it relates to questions of cultural identity and its spatial construction, as well as the politics of the production of geographical knowledge.
I enjoy encouraging students to articulate their own grasp of these conceptual questions through the discussion of challenging readings--both well-known works of theory and philosophy, and geographical reworkings of their ideas--in small seminars.
My aim is always quality over quantity so that students are prepared for in-depth engagements with topical literature of their choice for their dissertation research.
- Teaching activities
Eric's specialist teaching on undergraduate courses includes:
- GEO112 Introducing Social & Cultural Geographies
- GEO151 Qualitative Methods in Human Geography
- GEO223 Philosophical Issues in Human Geography
- GEO265 Researching Human Geographies
- GEO364 Urban Field Class
- GEO375 Cities and Modernities
Eric's teaching on Masters courses includes:
- GEO6003 Theoretical Issues in Human Geography
- GEO6006 The Research Proposal
- GEO6008 Identity and Difference
- GEO6420 MA Dissertation
- GEO6421 Extended Dissertation
All staff also engage in personal supervision and tutoring of individual students at all three levels in the following modules: