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Ms Olivia Mason

Research Postgraduate (PhD)

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Research Postgraduate (PhD) of Department of GeographyChristopherson Annexe 


I am a PhD candidate in Human Geography, funded by the ESRC. Prior to coming to Durham, I received a BA (First class hons) in Geography from Newcastle University and completed a MRes at Glasgow University in 2013.

Broadly, my interests lie in the intersections between tourism, culture, and politics in the Middle East. Including the theorising of tourism practices, cultural mobilities, knowledge production, and the performativity of politics through tourism.

Twitter: @o.r.mason

Current Research (2014 - 2018 ESRC Awarded Project)

My current research explores the growth of alternative tourism practices in Jordan, particularly the rise of hiking, climbing, and trail making. I focus particularly on a new walking trail in Jordan, the Jordan Trail, to interrogate the ways in which we understand movement and mobility in situated contexts. In doing so this project has three key areas of interest:

First, better understanding walking itself: what does walking mean in different contexts and cultures and how can the process of walking perform and uncover different political realities that represent different groups.

Second, to understand the particular ways walking enables an engagement with the landscape; particularly how walking and trail making mark the land and how local, grounded, and practiced knowledge within Jordan emerges through the growth of hiking and climbing. Further the link between global and local narratives of place through the ways both tourists and locals use the Jordan Trail.

Third, to better conceptualise movement across different locations and sites within the context of the Middle East. How do people travel differently and engage with the Middle East within frameworks of safety, fear, and conflict?

Grants and Awards
  • 2016: Centre for British Research in the Levant Arabic Language Scholarship
  • 2015: Department of Geography Postgraduate Conference Funding (£500)
  • 2014: ESRC Studentship Award
  • 2011: Sony Stonehouse Expedition Fund (£500)

Tutoring and Demonstrating

  • L2 Geographies of Development
  • L2 Social Research in Geography
  • L2 Theory and Concepts in Human Geography
  • L3 Territory and Geopolitics