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Personal profile

Scholarly biography

Jason Lim is Senior Lecturer in Human Geography in the School of Environment and Technology. His research addresses the relationship between the ontological (the theory of the nature of being and existence) and cultural and political life. His current research pursues these themes in several ways. One strand of his research interrogates how the historical emergence of ontological claims tied to claims about being, death and possibility – cannot be understood without understanding how such claims are intertwined with the development of racism and coloniality. Another current strand of his research considers how assumptions about the ‘nature’ of bodies, agency, power and sexual difference shape feminist activism. His research also addresses assumptions underpinning concepts and discourses of happiness and well-being as they become articulated in scientific knowledge claims, popular culture, the arts and policy making.

Jason has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Environment and Planning A, Geoforum, Gender, Place and Culture, Feminist Criminology, and Sociological Research Online. He was one of the co-founders of Space, Sexualities and Queer Research Group (SSQRG) of the Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers), and has twice served as Secretary for this Research Group. He also serves as a member of the International Scientific Committee for the biennial European Geographies of Sexualities Conference. Within the University of Brighton, he is a member of the Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics, the Centre for Transforming Sexuality and Gender, and the Society, Space and Environment research and enterprise group.

Approach to teaching

I am a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, and I teach a wide range of social, political and cultural geography. In my teaching of first-year undergraduates, I lead a module that provides a broad introduction to an undergraduate human geography curriculum and a module that support students’ development of academic skills. My teaching of second and third-year undergraduates focuses on social, cultural and political geographies – especially as they relate to the themes of racism, postcolonialism, multiculturalism, security, territory and geopolitics. I teach through a variety of methods: lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and field classes. I design this teaching to help students learn through their own research – whether of academic literature or of their own empirical material.

My teaching encourages students to learn and think independently. I focus on trying to empower students not to take claims about social, economic and political phenomena for granted – to think critically and to question the knowledge, data and representations they encounter. As how we ask questions of the world is crucial in shaping what we can know about the world, I ask students to reflect on the kinds of questions that underpin knowledge claims: what kind of knowledge do they permit, and what kinds do they preclude? This approach helps to develop advanced problem-solving skills by helping students to understand the value of reflecting on how they or others have framed a problem. My teaching not only helps students to develop their ability to make sound judgements about knowledge claims, but also about the effects of knowledge: what does it do in the world; what will they do with it?

Research interests

My research addresses the implicit background to political and ethical practices - especially ontological claims and assumptions in political imaginaries, and historically- and geographically-specific modes of embodiment and affect. I have pursued this research interest in four main areas:

The Implicit Background of the Politics of Race, Ethnicity, Sexuality, and Gender

My current research in this area interrogates the privileging of the ontological as a theoretical register in a range of humanities and social science thinking. I explore the implications for current theorising of the historical emergence of ontology as a field distinct from metaphysics, and how this emergence was connected to new ways of understanding the human that developed during the expansion of European colonialism and the emergence of ‘race’ as a principle for dividing up the human.

In some of my earlier work in this area, I developed innovative theorisations of the affective, bodily and ‘machinic’ background to the micro-politics of everyday life. This research built on my doctoral study to examine how racialised, ethnicised, sexualised and gendered power relations are enacted and embodied in everyday practice. Theoretically, this work was informed by Deleuzoguattarian theories of ‘affect’ and ‘machinism’ to explore new ways of thinking about the relationship between the capabilities bodies have to affect and be affected by one another in specific events and broader historically-specific social and political formations.

Sexual Politics in the SlutWalk

Based on empirical work conducted at SlutWalk marches in 2011 and 2012, this project – a collaboration with Alexandra Fanghanel (University of Greenwich, UK) – considered how anti-rape discourses variously contest, negotiate and reproduce dominant constructions of female sexual subjectivity and embodiment and of gendered inequalities in access to urban public space.

Political Imaginaries in Feminist Activism in London and Brighton

This research collaboration with Erin Sanders-McDonagh (University of Kent, UK) considers the ontological assumptions implicit in how feminist activists formulate and conceptualise the political problems they wish to address. We investigate these political imaginaries in the context of the dominance of neoliberal values of individualism and responsibility, on the one hand, and intersectional critiques of how different modes of oppression (e.g. sexism, racism, class, homophobia, transphobia) interact, on the other hand. In this context, we ask who can become a subject of feminism, and who or what become the objects of feminist critique. The importance of these questions concerns the ability of feminists who are, for instance, also sex workers, trans women, working-class women, Muslim women, or practitioners of BDSM to challenge and rework feminist critiques that have constructed them as problems or objects requiring intervention.

What is Happiness in 'The Happiness Project'?

This research arises from my involvement in a Wellcome-Trust funded arts-science collaboration with the Roundhouse Theatre, London and Glas(s) Performance, Glasgow that devised a theatrical production – ‘The Happiness Project’. This theatrical production brought together academics from different disciplines with a group of young people from London to explore ideas of happiness and well-being. The research attends to what happened in the devising of the theatrical production when academic understandings from different disciplines came together with stories of personal experiences of happiness: how do these understandings and experiences articulate; are there forms of authority that privilege some understandings and some experiences over others? This project – a collaboration with Dawn Rose (Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Switzerland) – explores historically-specific ontological assumptions about happiness and well-being. The knowledge generated by this study will contribute to debates about the articulation of culture, technique and neurophysiology in the production of subjectivity and affect – and the political and ethical implications thereof.

Supervisory Interests

I am interested in supervising PhD students in the following areas: critical race theory, de/post-colonial studies, feminist activism, sexualities, trans studies, political philosophy, history of ontology.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of London

1 Oct 199830 Sep 2003

Award Date: 30 Sep 2003

Master, University of Bristol

1 Oct 199730 Sep 1998

Award Date: 31 Oct 1998

Bachelor, University of Bristol

1 Oct 199330 Jun 1996

Award Date: 30 Jun 1996


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