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Jonathon Turnbull

Jonathon Turnbull

PhD candidate, Department of Geography and King's College

Jonathon is a cultural and environmental geographer interested in the human-animal relations emerging in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone; canids in particular. Conceptually, he is interested in more-than-human and animal(s') geographies, new and historical materialisms, post-humanism(s), digital ecologies, and the 'weird'.

Джонатон — культурний та екологічний географ, до зацікавлень якого входять стосунки між людьми та тваринами, зокрема собаками, в Чорнобильській зоні відчуження. Концептуально Він цікавиться географією, що виходить за межі дослідження лише людей та тварин, новітнім та історичним матеріалізмом, постгуманізмом(ами), цифровою екологією та «дивним».


  • PhD in Geography (ESRC funded), University of Cambridge, 2018 – present
  • MSc (Dist.) in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance, University of Oxford, 2017
  • BA (First) in Geography, University of Oxford, 2015

Funding and awards

  • (Forthcoming) Procter Fellowship, Princeton University
  • (2022) AJ Pressland Prize for best language report (Ukrainian), University of Cambridge Language Centre
  • (2021) Conference Support Grant, Department of Geography and King's College, University of Cambridge, awarded for the Digital Ecologies inaugural conference
  • (2021) AHRC funding for 'Incorporeal Matter' seminar series
  • (2020) AJ Pressland Award, University of Cambridge Language Centre
  • (2018 – present) ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership Award, University of Cambridge
  • (2017) Christ Church College, Oxford research grant
  • (2017) SoGE, Oxford research grant
  • (2015) JNL Baker Prize in Geography, Jesus College, Oxford
  • (2013) Graham Ward Award, Jesus College, Oxford
  • (2012) Eliahou Dangoor Scholarship, Oxford


My research explores the more-than-human geographies of care and contamination in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone and investigates the human-animal relations that have emerged in the Zone since the 1986 nuclear disaster. I primarily focus on the lives and material ecologies of two especially charismatic members of the Canidae family – dogs and wolves – to reflect on 'the nature of Nature' in the Anthropocene.

I use Chornobyl as an intense and localised example at one extreme of a continuum of contaminated environments in which wildlife is increasingly forced to live. I do this to reflect more broadly on the politics and ethics of care, environmental flourishing, and the interconnected materialities of life and matter in the novel and weird ecologies that emerge as a result of anthropogenic change and (capitalist) industrial pollution.

The project is empirically grounded through (multispecies) ethnographic work alongside a range of human groups that research, care for, and are interested in the wildlife at Chornobyl. I work with conservation biologists, radio-ecologists, tourists, and an NGO – the Clean Futures Fund – amongst others, to reflect on and bring into conversation conceptual ideas surrounding Nature and Society, animals, contamination and the Anthropocene.

More recently, I began working on a project (with Adam Searle) exploring Digital Ecologies. We have conducted ethnographic research into the livestreaming of animals during COVID-19 quarantines, including virtual trips to Chornobyl to feed the dogs that roam the Zone.

My previous fieldwork (supervised by Dr Maan Barua) concerned India's bovine geographies and urban ecologies, which I continue to write on. I have also worked as a research assistant on a project entitled 'Meat and Masculinities' at Newcastle University with Dr Michael Richardson.

I have a long-standing collaboration with ceramicist, Thomas Hedley. We work together to understand how geographical ideas might be represented in ceramic forms to engage a variety of publics.

My other interests include science and technology studies, vegan geographies, lively capital, chemical geographies, cli/sci-fi, the weird, non-representational theories, minor ecologies, spiritual ecology, landscape, queer ecologies, more-than-human collaborations, and psychedelic geographies.

I have been a visiting researcher at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy based in Kyiv, Ukraine, from 2019-2022, and speak Ukrainian. From March - July 2022 I am a visiting research at Wageningen University, The Netherlands, under the guidance of Dr Clemens Driessen.

I am an editorial board member of Routes: The Journal for Student Geographers.


Journal articles



  • von Essen, E., Turnbull, J., Searle, A., Jørgensen, F.A., Hofmeester, T.R., and van der Wal, R. 2021. Wildlife in the Digital Anthropocene: Examining Human-Animal Relations through Surveillance Technologies. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space. DOI:
  • Oliver, C., Ragavan, S., Turnbull, J., Chowdhury, A., Borden, D., Fry, T., Gutgutia, S. and Srivastava, S. 2021. Introduction to the urban ecologies open collection: A call for contributions on methods, ethics, and design in geographical research with urban animals. Geo, 8(2): 1-7. DOI:
  • Turnbull, J. and Searle, A. 2021. Filmmaking practice and animals' geographies: attunement, perspective, narration. cultural geographies. DOI:
  • Turnbull, J. 2021. Weird. Environmental Humanities, 13(1): 275-280. DOI:
  • Searle, A., Turnbull, J., and Lorimer, J. 2021. After the anthropause: Lockdown lessons for more‐than‐human geographies. The Geographical Journal, 187(1): 69-77. DOI:


  • Turnbull, J. 2020. Checkpoint dogs: Photovoicing canine companionship in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Anthropology Today, 36(6): 21-24. DOI:
  • Turnbull, J., Searle, A., and Adams, W.M. 2020. Quarantine encounters with digital animals: More-than-human geographies of lockdown life. Journal of Environmental Media, 1 (Supplement): 6.1-10. DOI:
  • Searle, A. and Turnbull, J. 2020. Resurgent natures? More-than-human perspectives on Covid-19. Dialogues in Human Geography, 10(2): 291-295. DOI:
  • Turnbull, J., Searle, A. and Adams, W.M. 2020. Quarantine urban ecologies. Cultural Anthropology, Fieldsights: 19 May.

Book chapters


  • Eriksen, C. and Turnbull, J. 2022. Insure the volume? Sensing air, atmospheres, and radiation in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone. In k. Booth, C. Lucas and S. French (eds.) Climate, Society and Elemental Insurance: Capacities and Limitations. DOI: 10.4324/9781003157571-17.


  • Alexis-Martin, B., Turnbull, J., et al. 2021. Nuclear Geographies and Nuclear Issues. In D. Richardson, N. Castree, M.F. Goodchild, A. Kobayashi, W. Liu and R.A. Marston (eds.) International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment and Technology. DOI:

Public scholarship






Edited volumes

  • Turnbull, J. and Searle, A. 2020. (eds.) The Other Animals. The Philosopher, 108(1).
    • Including contributions from Bill Adams, Maan Barua and Anindya Sinha, Eva Giraud, Lori Gruen, Christine Korsgaard, Diane Morgan, and Cary Wolfe.



  • Turnbull, J. 2020. 'Contaminated Canids in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone', in Visualizing Toxic Places Exhibition, Center for Ethnography, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography.

Media appearances

Conference presentations

  • Parker, N., Turnbull, J. and Searle, A. 2022. 'Feminist digital ecologies: Challenging birding's masculinity online', Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, online.
  • Turnbull, J. 2021. 'Tracking wolves in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone: from keystone to mutant', RGS-IBG Conference, online.
  • Searle, A. and Turnbull, J. 2021. 'Rethinking Wild Cities Through Digital Ecologies', RGS-IBG Conference, online.
  • Turnbull, J., and Searle, A. 2021. 'Towards a Research Agenda for Digital Ecologies', RGS-IBG Digital Geographies Annual Symposium: Where Next for Digital Geographies? Pathways and Prospects, online. Available here:
  • Turnbull, J., Oliver, C. and Searle, A. 2021. 'Anthropocene Atmospheric Animals: Ruminations with Climate Cattle', Heroes and Villains of the Anthropocene seminar series, Global Lives of the Orangutan, Brunel University, online. Available here:
  • Turnbull, J. and Searle, A. 2020. 'Nature buffering: Liveness, liveliness, and the digital animal encounter', Worldly Togetherness? Showcasing sociological contributions to understanding multispecies entanglements Conference, online. Available here:
  • Turnbull, J. 2019. 'Tracking Mutant Wolves in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone: digital/bodily presence/absence', British Animal Studies Network Meeting: Movements, Leeds, UK. Available here:
  • Turnbull, J. 2019. 'Tracking Mutant Wolves in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone: digital/bodily presence/absence', RGS-IBG Conference, London, UK.
  • Turnbull, J. 2019. 'Living (on) Waste: putting India's sacred cattle to work', Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Washington DC, USA.
  • Turnbull, J. 2019. 'Transgressing and Dissecting the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone', WildCRU Conservation Geopolitics Forum, University of Oxford, UK.
  • Turnbull, J. and Hedley, T. 2019. 'A Radioactive Refuge: Caring for Contaminated Canids in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone', Multispecies Storytelling in Intermedial Practices, Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden.
  • Richardson, M. and Turnbull, J. 2019. '#MeatToo: left behind by vegan geographies', Nordic Geographers Meeting, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway [presented by Dr Richardson].
  • Turnbull, J. 2018. 'The Southern Reach Trilogy and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone', Association of Sociation Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth Conference, University of Oxford, UK.
  • Turnbull, J. 2018. 'Got milk? Material Biopolitics and More-than-Human Health at the Gaushala', (Un)Common Worlds: Human-Animal Studies Conference, Turku University, Finland.
  • Turnbull, J. 2018. 'Radioactive Natures: Conserving Chernobyl', Student Conference on Conservation Science, University of Cambridge, UK.
  • Turnbull, J. 2017. 'Religion and spirituality in the midst of climate change: learning from indigenous perspectives', 24th AISNA Biennial Conference, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.

Invited talks

  • Turnbull, J. and Searle, A. 2021. 'Reflections on the Anthropause'. Constellations for Futures: Stories on Ecologies, Kinship, and Sciences. Goethe Institute, Brussels. Available here: https://www.laloge. be/en/broadcasts/day-2-narrative-about-earth.
  • Turnbull, J. 2021. 'Making sense of nature in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone'. Chornobyl Forum.
  • Turnbull, J. and Searle, A. (2021) 'What is Nature?' The Linacre Institute, Big Ideas workshop.
  • Turnbull, J., Searle, A. and Adams, W.M. (2021) 'Digital winged geographies: Peregrine nestcams in the wild city', Winged Geographies Seminar Series, online. Available here:
  • Guest Lecturer, Mohyla Academy Postgraduate Seminar Series: 'Making Sense of Nature in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone', April 2021: Available here:
  • Roundtable participant: (Un)precedented Ecologies: 'Nature' in the Age of the Anthropause. Cambridge University Geography Society, February 2021.
  • Turnbull, J. and Searle, A. 2020. 'Nature buffering: Liveness, liveliness, and the digital animal encounter', Undergraduate Seminar, Keele University, online.
  • Turnbull, J. and Searle, A. 2020. 'Nature buffering: Liveness, liveliness, and the digital animal encounter', More-than-Human Research Group, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, online.

Conference panels convened

  • 2019. Co-convenor with Adam Searle, 'More-than-human haunted landscapes: Trace-ing binaries of hope/desolation', RGS-IBG Conference, London, UK [co-sponsored by Social and Cultural Geography Research Group and the Postgraduate Forum]
    • More-than-human haunted landscapes (1): Absence
    • More-than-human haunted landscapes (2): Disturbance
    • More-than-human haunted landscapes (3): Hope
  • 2019. Co-convenor with Earl Harper, 'Losing or Gaining Hope in the Apocalypse: Pre-/Peri-/Post-Apocalyptic Imaginaries in the Anthropocene', RGS-IBG Conference, London, UK
  • 2019. Co-convenor with Peter Sands, 'Outside Paradise and The Animals at the End(s) of the World(s)', ASLE Conference, University of California, Davis, USA
  • 2017. Co-convenor with Dr Daniel Cooper, 'Sacred Landscapes: The Role of Religion, Spirituality and Faith in Landscape Morphology', AISNA Biennial Conference, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy


  • March 2021. Co-convenor with Adam Searle and Henry Anderson-Elliott, 'Digital Ecologies', University of Cambridge, virtual session (sponsored by the Vital Geographies research group, the Department of Geography, and King's College)
  • February 2021. Co-convenor with Lauren Van Patter and Jennifer Dodsworth, 'More-than-human Collaborations' (sponsored by the Vital Geographies research group)
  • 2021. Co-organiser with Luke Ilott and Ben Platt, 'Incorporeal Matter', AHRC-funded seminar series.
  • 2019. Discussant, 'Desert Island Peace Ecologies', Advancing Peace Geographies Conference, Coventry University, UK
  • 2019. Session Chair, 'Animal Welfare from Public Perception to Policy: Attitudes, Approaches, Language', British Academy Animal Welfare and the Posthumanities Workshop, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
  • 2018. Participant and social media co-ordinator, 'Urban Ecologies: Governing Nonhuman Life in Global Cities project launch event', University of Cambridge, UK


  • Dissertation Supervisor, BA Geography, University of Oxford
  • Part IA Society, Environment and Sustainable Development
  • Part IA Understanding Cultural Geography
    • Geographies of landscape
    • Geographies of gender
  • Part IA Unequal Geographies: Housing and Inequality
  • Part IA Contemporary Urban Geographies
  • Part II Environmental Knowledges and the Politics of Expertise
    • Understanding Animals
    • Animal Spaces
    • Animal Controversies


  • King's College Mentoring Scheme
  • ESRC Mentoring Scheme
  • Cambridge Geography Department PhD Mentoring Scheme
  • Nature, Society and Environmental Governance MSc Alumni mentor, University of Oxford
  • Dissertation café supervisor for University of Cambridge geography undergraduates
  • The Linacre Institute, Big Ideas Workshop

External activities