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Department of Geography


Professor Philip Howell BA PhD

Professor of Historical Geography and Fellow of Emmanuel College

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


Early in my university career I made historical geography my principal focus. My PhD thesis looked at the geography of Chartism, the early Victorian popular suffrage movement, considering the local background of the movement and its regional and national integration. An interest in political geography and political theory developed alongside this research, complemented by social and critical theories of power and the body. I worked on very different topics subsequently, though the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries remain my major preoccupation. One strand of my research career looked at the historical geography of the regulation of prostitution in Britain and its colonies, which has particular relevance to geographies of gender and sexuality. But my most prominent recent research concerns ‘animal geographies’, the relations between humans and nonhuman animals. A second monograph covered 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. This is a contribution to the burgeoning interdisciplinary interest in the question of animals and animality, and I have also been involved in the growth and promotion of ‘animal history’ or ‘animal-human history’. Some of this work takes in themes in the ‘biopolitics’ of life and death in contemporary society. In addition, I have a longstanding interest in cultural and literary geographies, and I am also working on the historical geography of the English public house.


  • 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 and sexuality
  • Geographies of relations between societies and non-human animals
  • Literary geography
  • The cultural geography of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain


[Publications will load automatically from the University’s publication database…]


Geographical Tripos (Undergraduate level)

  • Part IA: Human Geography (Understanding Cultural Geographies)
  • Part IB: Citizenship, Cities, and Civil Society
  • Part II: Political Appetites: Geographies of Food and Power; Legal Geographies