Dr John Childs

Senior Lecturer

Research Overview

John is particularly interested in the political ecological dimensions of natural resource extraction, including the study of minerals, precious metals, oil and gas. For the last few years, he has been focused on the political geography of deep-sea mining which is part of an emergent 'blue economy' discourse. He has held an ESRC Future Research Leaders fellowship investigating the kind of geopolitics that emerges when the materiality and dynamism of the deep sea is taken seriously alongside the political ecological concerns of how it is managed.

Previous work has focused on (1) the political geography of the blue economy, especially deep-sea mining (2) the political economy of 'resource nationalism' in sub-Saharan Africa and (3) the discourse of 'responsibility', 'fairness' and ethics in the mining industry, particularly the extent to which Fairtrade can solve the problems of social and environmental injustice in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.

Published Research

His most recent work has been centred on deep-sea mining and its politics. Emering as a particular type of 'geoimaginary', it seeks to understand from different perspectives how the industry is being constructed as a new frontier for resource politics.

John has also published extensively on the political ecological dimensions of the Fairtrade certification of gold. This research, variously funded by the British Institute in Eastern Africa and The British Academy/Leverhulme, has investigated both the political economy and social and environmental justice of Fairtrade gold.

He has also been published on ‘resource nationalism’ in sub-Saharan Africa. Funded by the ESRC, this work seeks to understand the geographic and political ways in which ‘resource nationalist’ policies are both articulated and resisted in various countries including Tanzania and Ghana.


John teaches on several undergraduate and postgraduate geography modules, and convenes:

LEC329 Global Consumption

LEC222 Political Geography

He is also the Director of Studies for the MA Environment and Development


Other Roles

John is also an editorial board member of Extractive Industries and Society (http://www.journals.elsevier.com/the-extractive-industries-and-society/)