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Dr Catherine Oliver

Dr Catherine Oliver

Research Associate

Urban Ecologies: Urban chickens and enmeshed multispecies lives in London



  • 2020-present: Research Associate, ERC: Urban Ecologies (PI Maan Barua), Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2017-2019: Graduate Teaching Associate, School of Geography, University of Birmingham
  • 2016-2017: British Library PhD Placement Researcher, 'Exploring food activism through the archives: the relationship between animal rights campaigns and food activism in the UK 1950-2015' (supervised by Dr. Polly Russell and Gill Ridgeley), Department for Politics and Public Life, The British Library


  • 2015-2020: PhD Geography, 'Towards a Beyond-Human Geography: veganism and multispecies worlds of the past, present and future', School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK
  • 2011-2015: BA+MSci Geography, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK


  • 2020: College of Life and Environmental Science Travel Award, The University of Birmingham
  • 2020: [nominated] The Michael K O'Rourke Best Publication award, for 'Dis-belonging Bodies: Negotiating outsiderness at academic conferences'
  • 2019: Attendance at the European Summer School for Interspecies Relationality, University of Kassel, 28th July – 4th August 2019, The Volkswagen Institute
  • 2017: Presentation Award for 'Befriending the Archives', School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham
  • 2016: Funding for postgraduate/undergraduate mentoring and reading group, Centre for Learning and Academic Development and Learning Spaces, 'Educational Enhancement Project Fund', University of Birmingham


I am currently working as a research associate on the ERC 'Urban Ecologies' project with (PI) Maan Barua. My research on this project investigates the cultivated spaces of urban chickens in London, UK, to understand how the rise of urban hen-keeping has the potential to reshape urban imaginaries through re-negotiations of the everyday. In particular, I understand hen-keeping as a transformative personal, collective and worldly endeavour that foregrounds multispecies sociability, troubles industrial agricultural and food systems and disrupts anthropocentric flows of the city.

Prior to my role at Cambridge, I completed my Ph.D. 'Towards a Beyond-Human Geography: multispecies worlds, veganism and the future' at The University of Birmingham. My doctoral research explores how conceptualisations of friendship, truth and inheritance define, shape and move activist and multispecies communities through archival work, activist interviews, and multispecies ethnographic work.

During my Ph.D., I undertook a placement at The British Library working in the archive of animal activist Richard D. Ryder, developing my research interests in the historical geographies and genealogies of animal and vegan activism.

I am also currently working on an ongoing feminist geography research project exploring the exclusions and 'outsiderness' scholars of colour, women, and early career researchers experience in the neoliberal university, particularly focussed on critiquing the spaces of academic conferences.


[Publications will load automatically from the University's publications database.]


  • Graduate Teaching Associate, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham 2017-2019. Responsible for teaching across all levels of undergraduate and Masters' level Human Geography teaching, focussed on social, cultural, and political geography. Particular highlights include developing core seminars for Level 2 students, designing and leading field teaching on field courses to Berlin, and research-led lecturing on feminist geographies, and ethnographic research methods.