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Professor Peter Atkins

Emeritus Professor

MA, PhD (Cantab)

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Emeritus Professor in the Department of Geography


Peter was an undergraduate and postgraduate in the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge. He then taught at the University of Leicester and the University of Wales, Swansea before joining the staff at Durham in 1980. He is currently a Professor of Geography.

Peter's main research interests are the geographies of food and drink. The main approach throughout his career has been historical, and he has recently been developing interdisciplinary and international perspectives with colleagues in the International Commission for Research on European Food History. Peter is Senior Vice-President of the ICREFH.

In addition to the historical work, Peter has maintained strong links with South Asia, especially Bangladesh. Research here has recently included work on problems of drinking water quality. He is always pleased to consider applications for PhD research on South Asia.

Peter's most recent book is Liquid Materialies, published in January 2010 by Ashgate. This is a new type of food history that takes seriously the stuff in foodstuffs.

Future plans include a number of books and papers on constructions of 'quality' in food and drink and associated state interventions since 1850. Peter is also editing a history of animals in the city.

Awarded Grants

  • 2007: KNOWLEDGE, ETHICS AND REPRESENTATION(£0.00 from The Wellcome Trust)
  • 2006: Milk: Pure or Poisonous(£51425.00 from The Wellcome Trust)


Authored book

  • Atkins, P.J. (2010). Liquid materialities: a history of milk, science and the law. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Atkins, P.J. & Bowler, I.R. (2001). Food in society, economy, culture, geography. London New York: Arnold.
  • Atkins, P.J., Simmons, I.G. & Roberts, B.K. (1998). People, Land and Time. Arnold.
  • Raw, M. & Atkins, P.J. (1995). Agriculture and Food. Collins Educational.
  • Atkins, P.J. (1990). The Directories of London, 1677-1977. Mansell.

Chapter in book

Edited book

  • Atkins, P.J. (2012). Animal Cities: Beastly Urban Histories. Ashgate.
  • Oddy, D.J., Atkins, P.J. & Amilien, V. (2009). The Rise of Obesity in Europe: a Twentieth Century Food History. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Atkins, P.J., Lummel, P. & Odddy, D.J. (2007). Food and the city in Europe since 1800. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Journal Article