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Philip Howell BA PhD

Philip Howell BA PhD

Reader in Historical Geography and Fellow of Emmanuel College

Historical geographer with research interests primarily in geographies of gender and sexuality, colonialism and imperialism, animal geographies, and literary geography.


Early in my university career I considered historical geography to be my principal concern. My PhD thesis looked at the geography of Chartism, the early Victorian popular suffrage movement, in the context of debates over national integration and regional differentiation. An interest in political geography and political theory developed in conjunction with this research. Since then I have worked on very different topics, though the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries remain my focus. One strand of my subsequent research career examined the historical geography of the regulation of prostitution in Britain and its colonies, with wider relevance to geographies of gender and sexuality; this research looks at the infamous Contagious Diseases Acts in Britain and Ireland but considered a greater range of sites and spaces in which 'regulationism' was practised. My current research concerns 'animal geographies', the relations between humans and nonhuman animals; a recent monograph on the career of the dog, as it was domesticated in bourgeois homes and at the same time policed off the streets of the Victorian city, is a contribution to the burgeoning interdisciplinary interest in the question of animals and animality. I have also been involved in the growth and promotion of 'animal history' or 'animal-human history', an emerging field of research in history and historical geography. In addition I have a longstanding interest in cultural and literary geographies.


  • 1984-1987: University of Cambridge
  • 1987-1988: Harvard University
  • 1989-present: Department of Geography, University of Cambridge.


  • BA 1987 University of Cambridge
  • PhD 1994 University of Cambridge


My research interests contribute to the research thematic groups, Vital Geographies. The main strands of work are:

  • The regulation of prostitution in Britain and its empire - including its legacy in post-colonial Ireland
  • Geographies of gender and sexuality - particularly gendered and sexualised identities in the nineteenth-century city
  • The 'animal turn' in history and human geography - geographies of relations between societies and non-human animals
  • Literary geography - the representation of space and time in fiction and in narrative in general


Selected recent publications:

  • H. Kean and P. Howell (Eds, 2019) The Routledge Companion to Animal-Human History (Abingdon: Routledge)
  • C. Wischermann, A. Steinbrecher, and P. Howell (Eds, 2019) Animal History and the Modern City: Exploring Liminality (London: Bloomsbury)
  • P. Howell (2018) ''The dogs that didn't bark in the Blitz: transpersonal and transpecies emotional geographies on the British home front', Journal of Historical Geography 61: 44-52
  • A. Amin and P. Howell (Eds, 2016) Releasing the Commons: Rethinking the Futures of the Commons (Abingdon: Routledge)
  • P. Howell and D. Beckingham (2015) 'Time-geography, gentlemen, please: chronotopes of publand in Patrick Hamilton's London trilogy', Social & Cultural Geography 16, 8: 931-949
  • P. Howell (2015) At Home and Astray: The Domestic Dog in Victorian Britain (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press)
  • P. Howell (2013) 'Afterword: remapping the terrain of social regulation', Journal of Historical Geography 42: 193-202
  • P. Howell (2013) 'The dog fancy at war: breeds, breeding and Britishness, 1914-1918', Society & Animals 21(6): 546-567
  • P. Howell (2012) 'Between the muzzle and the leash: dog-walking, discipline and the modern city', in P.J. Atkins (ed), Animal Cities: Beastly Urban Histories (Farnham: Ashgate)
  • P. Howell (2009) Geographies of Regulation: Policing Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Britain and the Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
  • P. Howell, D. Beckingham and F. Moore (2008) 'Managed zones for sex workers in Liverpool: contemporary proposals, Victorian parallels', Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 33(2): 233-50.
  • P. Howell (2007) 'The politics of prostitution and the politics of public health: a response to Susannah Riordan', Irish Historical Studies XXXV (140): 541-552.
  • P. Howell (2007) 'Foucault, Sexuality, Geography', in J. Crampton and S. Elden (eds) Foucault and Geography: Space, Knowledge, Power (Aldershot: Ashgate): 291-315.
  • P. Howell and D. Lambert (2006) 'Sir John Pope Hennessy and Colonial Government: Humanitarianism and the Translation of Slavery in the Imperial Network' in A. Lester and D. Lambert (Eds) Colonial Lives Across the British Empire: Imperial Careering in the Long Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press): 228-56.
  • P. Howell (2005) 'Prostitution and the place of empire: regulation and repeal in Hong Kong and the British imperial network', in Lindsay J. Proudfoot and Michael M. Roche (Eds) (Dis)placing Empire: Renegotiating British Colonial Geographies (Aldershot: Ashgate): 175-197.
  • P. Howell (2004) 'Race, Space and the Regulation of Prostitution in Colonial Hong Kong', Urban History 31(2): 229-248.
  • P. Howell (2004) 'Sexuality, sovereignty and space: law, government and the geography of prostitution in colonial Gibraltar', Social History 29: 444-464.
  • P. Howell (2004) 'Industry and Identity: The North-South divide and the geography of belonging, 1830-1918', in A.R.H. Baker and M.D. Billinge (Eds) The North-South Divide: Material and Imagined Geographies of England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press): 64-87.
  • P. Howell (2003) 'Venereal disease and the politics of prostitution in the Irish Free State', Irish Historical Studies 33: 320-341.


Geographical Tripos (Undergraduate level)

  • Part IA: Human Geography
  • Part IB: Citizenship, Cities, and Civil Society
  • Part II: Political Appetites: Geographies of Food and Power