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Professor Cheryl Mcewan

Professor / Head of Department

Professor / Head of Department in the Department of Geography+44 (0) 191 33 41941
Head of Department in the Department of Geography+44 (0) 191 33 41981


Born and brought up in Yorkshire, I completed my first degree and PhD in Geography at Loughborough University, then worked as a Lecturer in Geography at University of Wales, Swansea and Birmingham University before moving to Durham in 2003.

My research interests are focused around the intersections between cultural, political and development geographies. At a conceptual level, my work has sought to explore the productive tensions between postcolonial and other radical approaches within geography. These theoretical concerns are also grounded in empirical research in South Africa and the UK.

My research is organised in three particular sub-themes. The first concerns ethical consumption in the global South. I am currently working on an ESRC funded project entitled 'Sustainable Consumption and Agri-food Ethics in the Global South' [ES/R005303/1 with Hughes (Newcastle), Crang (Durham), Doherty, Fastoso & Himenez (York) and Kleine (Sheffield), 2018-2020]. The research is an international study (Brazil/China/South Africa) to evaluate the mobilisation and practice of sustainable consumption in global South countries through an examination of systems of food provision and regulation, everyday consumer habits, trends and fashions, and the potential of digital technologies influencing food consumption. It aims to fill a gap in understanding sustainable food consumption spaces and practices in the global South, which are of critical importance as middle-class consumption expands rapidly. It also responds to the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 12 (Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production), which recognises the need to support developing countries in strengthening their technological capacity to enable more sustainable patterns of consumption, to promote sustainable public procurement practices, and to ensure that consumers have relevant information and awareness for sustainable lifestyles. For more information, see the project website:

The second area of research is focused on wider issues of citizenship, democracy and transformation in South Africa. This began with an ESRC project on "Gendered spaces of democracy in South Africa", which examined the understandings and lived experiences of citizenship of black women in South Africa, and (with David Bek) two research projects on ethical trade and empowerment in South Africa's wine industry (funded by Nuffield Foundation and British Academy). A Leverhulme Trust funded project (with Alex Hughes at Newcastle) investigated ethical production, cultural economy and politics of place in rural South Africa. An ESRC Knowledge Exchange funded project developed the initial impact of this research concerning sustainable wildflower harvesting in the Western Cape and we are now, with the support of ESRC IAA funding and in collaboration with our partners in the Flower Valley Conservation Trust, developing a mobile application. By improving supply chain governance and building local capacity, the app will support the sustainable management and conservation of a valuable, unique and threatened indigenous resource in a World Heritage Site and global 'Biodiversity Hotspot'.

Finally, running through all of my research is an interest in the significance of postcolonial theory and decolonial politics within the discipline of geography. This is explored in my forthcoming book on Postcolonialism, Decoloniality and Development (Routledge 2018).

I am currently engaged in developing strategies for advancing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. I teach on the undergraduate and masters programmes and supervise numerous postgraduate researchers. I am a Trustee and Secretary of the Ruth First Educational Trust at Durham University. In my spare time I may be spotted on long distance runs or bike rides in the hills of Northumberland and County Durham.

Grants Awarded (recent)

  • 'Sustainable Consumption and Agri-food Ethics in the Global South' ESRC Responsive Mode [with Dr Alex Hughes (Newcastle), Professor Mike Crang (Durham), Professor Bob Doherty, Dr Fernando Fastoso, Dr Hector Gonzalez Himenez (York) and Professor Dorothea Kleine (Sheffield)], [ES/R005303/1] £584,899.94 (01/05/18-30/04/20)
  • 'Sustainable consumption and agri-food ethics in the global South: developing pathways to impact' N8 AgriFood Strategic Pump Priming grant (with Dr Alex Hughes (Newcastle), Professor Mike Crang (Durham), Professor Bob Doherty, Dr Fernando Fastoso, Dr Hector Gonzalez Himenez (all York) and Professor Dorothea Kleine (Sheffield) £22,384 (01/05/17 to 31/03/18)
  • 'Sustainable Wild Flower Harvesting for Global Supply Chains: Developing and Promoting Best Practice' ESRC Knowledge Exchange Programme [with Dr Alex Hughes and Dr David Bek, Newcastle University] £74223.15 (31/03/13 - 31/03/14)
  • 'Sustainable solar energy for rural development in South Africa' EPSRC "Bridging the Gap" (EP/K503368/1), [Pl with Dr Douglas Halliday (Physics), Dr Marek Szablewski (Physics) and Dr Neal Wade (Engineering) £14,221 (01/11/12 - 31/03/13)
  • 'Ethical production in South Africa: Advancing a cultural economy approach' Leverhulme Trust (F/00 128/BE) (02/01/10 - 30/06/12) [PI with Dr Alex Hughes, Newcastle University and Dr David Bek, Durham University] £180,722
External Supervisions

Research interests

  • Alternative economies and ethical trade
  • Citizenship and transformation
  • Cultural and development geographies
  • Feminist and postcolonial theory
  • Memory and social justice
  • Postcoloniality
  • Qualitative methods
  • Transnationalism

Esteem Indicators

  • 2000: International Advisory Panel Member, Commonwealth Scholarship Commission:
  • 2000: ESRC GCRF Peer Review College member:
  • 2000: International Advisor to South Africa’s National Research Foundation:
  • 2000: International Expert Reviewer for the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT): Social Sciences:


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Supervision students