PhD Research Student in Black Studies,
Maxwell is a PhD student research whose research interests transcends the trajectories of race, ecology and environmental Justice in the UK and; the genealogy of people of Black African ancestry and the natural environment in the UK from the Roman times to slavery, colonialism and post-colonialism. Prior to commencing his PhD at the University of Nottingham, He worked as an Associate Lecturer/Research Associate at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), after completing a Master of Science Degree. Maxwell who is also a qualified journalist set up the Sheffield Environment Movement charity in 2016 to promote access and participation in the natural environment for people from Black & Ethnic Minority Communities. He also Co- founded the 100 Black Men Walk for Health Group featured on Channel 4 News on January 13th 2019, "Black Men Walking: How walking hobby became a symbol of identity" which inspired the production of the national play "Black Men Walking" by Eclipse & Royal Exchange Theatre Production. In 2013 Maxwell contributed to the publication of OPAL Community Environment Report - Exploring Nature Together launched at the House of Lords. In 2009 he produced a working manual "Engaging Black & Ethnic Minority Communities" - Vols. 1 & 2 (unpublished) for the Environment Agency of the North East Region.
My research interests transcends the trajectories of race, ecology and environmental Justice in the UK and; the genealogy of people of Black African ancestry and the natural environment in the UK from the Roman times to slavery, colonialism and post-colonialism
My thesis explores the geographic studies of the spatiality of the Peak District National Park in relation to access and use by people of Black African ancestry in the diaspora. Drawing on the… read more
My thesis explores the geographic studies of the spatiality of the Peak District National Park in relation to access and use by people of Black African ancestry in the diaspora. Drawing on the cultural landscape of the Peak Park and, political ecological paradigms I will through ethnography/field notes, examine the 'lived experience' of participants. The methodology involves active oral interviews/observations during walks to explore narratives of research participants which involve the use of social epistemology. This will enable me to gather data on 'how and why' specific cultural narratives about nature are produced. The thesis considers ethno-racial differentiations in park access, different ways of use and how multiple axes of difference historically configure usage. Participants of mixed gender and ages will be recruited through a screening process covering a range of characteristics and advertised in fliers delivered to churches, community centres and Black charities. Archival trips to access information on Government policies delivered through stakeholders (Peak Park Authority; Campaign for National Parks; National Trust etc.) and local authorities will form the analytical framework of the research. I am interested in how people of Black African ancestry differing experiences and perspectives of spaces such as National Parks reflect social justice issues of equality and diversity considerations which underpins much of my research work. The objective of the thesis therefore is to investigate the centrality of people of Black African ancestry use of the Peak Park as a 'social space' and to understand the dynamics of Afri-centric cultures and the natural environment around them. The research will help unravel the cultural resources, personal narratives and 'epiphany moments' that shape people's motivations for contact with nature. What can we learn from nature connectedness through life transition courses, specifically where this is characterised by migration, geography, mental/physical health trajectories, and intergenerational responsibilities. How values of nature motivate more intentional contact with nature, and in what ways is this negotiated and enacted in relation to others (family, peers or health professionals). This research builds on promoting countryside access, reconnecting ethnic minorities with 'nature' stated in the Government's 25 Year Environment Plan (2018) and, in the Julian Glover Review (2019). This has necessitated scholarly research and, both political/popular discourses promoting National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) as 'social spaces' for use and access by everyone irrespective of race, class or economic status. As a Black academic, I am undertaking this thesis to expand the conversations on race and the environment, to broadly highlight the lived experience and perceptions of people of Black African ancestry in the UK. This is against the backdrop of recent conception of Black studies advocating 'postpositivist' realism in the socially constructed nature of racial and ethnic identity in relation to the environment.
Nottingham, NG7 2RD
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