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Personal profile

Scholarly biography

I am a human geographer and historian, with expertise in the geographies of leisure and sport. My teaching and research interests focus on three main areas:

  • How public spaces are formed, the kinds of everyday activities that are facilitated by them, and the political and legal issues surrounding types of use (addressing issues such as access and property rights)
  • Issues of gender and embodiment in leisure cultures and spaces, particularly the making of masculinities and femininities through risk-taking sports
  • Hidden histories of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of recreation in landscapes and waterscapes

My research has responded to community needs and evolving policy agendas and I have worked in partnership with community groups, charities and governing agencies on projects that have impacted how public space is used and enjoyed.

Approach to teaching

I regularly use historical documents and art in my lectures to have conversations about the relationships between past and present and to help students build understanding by contextualising complex cultural and environmental phenomena.

I relish working with students on field learning and have developed one day and residential field trips to cities, coastal towns, rural tourist amenities, museums and farms. These trips are supported by handbooks, audio guides, digital mobile learning resources, and good old-fashioned pointing at stuff.

I love teaching students how to do research and I use my experiences in working with a range of qualitative research methods (interviews, focus groups, observation, historical analysis, creative methods and community-based participatory research) to show the importance of precise technique in designing and implementing research projects, though I also share many problems that can be encountered in research and the ‘messiness’ of researching social life.

Supervisory Interests

I would be interested in supervising postgraduate students in the following areas:

- Geographies of sport and leisure
- Playful cities and urban everyday life
- Community-supported agriculture / community gardening

I also welcome discussions on other potential topics.

Research interests

My research interests cover the geographies of sport and leisure. My doctoral research explored British cultures of adventure and the heroic masculinities associated with mountaineering. My more recent work is interested in the use, governance and regulation of public space for leisure and recreation, addressing issues such as access, property rights, citizenship and self-governance. Theoretically, my work cuts across human geography, sociology, politics, cultural studies, social history, sport studies and leisure theory. I employ a variety of theoretical tools to understand the spatial aspects of sport and leisure cultures - the spatial theories of Mikhail Bakhtin; Victor Turner's writings on liminality; gift theory; theories of affect; and, post-subcultural theories - and have contributed to the application of these approaches to empirical research in sport and leisure studies.

My current research interests include the social regulation of leisure in public space; countercultural sport; connecting people and communities through food and farming; and, the cultural heritage of waterscapes.

Methodologically, I specialise in qualitative and collaborative empirical methods and with Professor Neil Ravenscroft (University of Brighton) and Dr Niamh Moore (Edinburgh University) have developed the concept of ‘collaborative story spirals’ to describe a method of contextualised and situated biographical and narrative research; an approach that has been utilised in European heritage projects.

My research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, British Academy, European Union (Interreg Programme), and Political Studies Association.

Education/Academic qualification

Bachelor, University of Warwick

Award Date: 20 Jan 2018

PhD, University of Brighton

Award Date: 9 Jul 2009

Master, University of Warwick

Award Date: 20 Sep 2002

External positions

Executive Committee, Leisure Studies Association

Jul 2013 → …


  • GV Recreation Leisure
  • G Geography (General)

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Research Output

Embodied Causes: Climbing, Charity, and ‘Celanthropy’

Gilchrist, P., 16 Jul 2020, In : The International Journal of the History of Sport. p. 1-18 18 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Clarifying street culture: Integrating a diversity of opinions and voices

    Ross, J. I., Daichendt, G. J., Kurtenbach, S., Gilchrist, P., Charles, M. & Wicks, J., 22 Jun 2019, In : Urban Research & Practice. p. 1-16 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Roses and castles: Competing visions of canal heritage and the making of place

    Wincott, A., Ravenscroft, N. & Gilchrist, P., 3 Dec 2019, In : International Journal of Heritage Studies.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Davis, Ian Gordon McNaught -

    Gilchrist, P., 15 Feb 2018, Oxford, UK : Oxford University Press.

    Research output: Other contribution