Dr James Esson PhD (University College London)
Senior Lecturer in Human Geography
2018 onwards: Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, Loughborough University
2014 - 2018: Lecturer in Human Geography, Loughborough University
I studied at Newcastle University, University of Oxford and University College London (UCL).
2018 onwards - Admissions Tutor, Geography and Environment
2018 onwards - University Teaching Assessor
2018 onwards - International Advisory Board, Population, Space and Place
2017 onwards - Co-Chair of Loughborough University’s BAME Staff Network
2016 onwards - Head of the RGS-IBG RACE Working Group’s Teaching and Learning subcommittee
2015 onwards- Module Contributor: Global Challenges in Transport, Oxford Leadership Programme. University of Oxford, UK
2015 - Member of the Academic Assessor Group for the ESRC-DFID Education and Development Programme Call
My research is broadly located within the field of development studies, and contributes to debates in geography and the wider social sciences by examining development processes in three areas 1) Unconventional approaches to development 2) Migration and the politics of mobility 3) Urban Dynamics. Ongoing and recent projects in these areas include:
Unconventional approaches to development
I am investigating the efficacy of sport, art and cultural programmes in promoting development in relation to poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and gender equality. This work is supported by the ESRC-DFID Development Frontiers Research Fund. I am also working on a project funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund that examines how philanthropic giving within African higher education institutions shapes national and international development agendas.
Migration and the politics of mobility
I am bringing social and cultural theory into conversation with the migration-development nexus. I do so by using human trafficking in the football industry as a way to investigate the tension between sedentary development policies, and the increasingly popular belief among West African youth that regardless of the risks involved, irregular migration is a legitimate way to improve their life chances. This area of my research was funded by the ESRC, and will inform a monograph on African youth, development and transnational migration to be published by Manchester University Press.
I am interested in higher education as a field of inquiry, ranging from policy reforms to the issue of racism in the academy. I was awarded a British Academy research grant to investigate the impact of UK immigration policies on international students. More specifically, this project examines how migration statistics are produced, made credible and used by the State to monitor migrant populations.
Urban dynamics in Africa
I am exploring the relationship between age-related mobility, urbanization processes and development in Africa. This strand of my work builds on research conducted as part of the ESRC-DFID Urban Growth and Poverty in Mining Africa (UPIMA) research programme. As well as research from the EU-FP7 African Rural-City Connections project (RurbanAfrica), where I collaborated with scholars based in Cameroon, Denmark, France, Ghana, the Netherlands, Rwanda, Tanzania and the UK. Policy documents and reports associated with this research can be found here.
My teaching is in development geography, bringing together my interests in migration, urban dynamics and education.
Current postgraduate research students:
- David O’Byrne: "Sport for Development and Peace" (University Studentship)
- Jedi Tetteh: "Maternal and child health in urban Ghana" (University Studentship)
- Chidinma Okorie: "Development in Africa through Commonwealth Scholarships" (University Studentship)
- Blazek, M, Esson, J, Smith, D (2019) Relational geographies of human trafficking: inequality, manoeuvring and im/mobility across space and time, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 44(1), pp.63-78
- Gough, KV, Yankson, PWK, Esson, J (2018) Migration, housing and attachment in urban gold mining settlements, Urban Studies, DOI: 10.1177/0042098018798536.
- Esson, J, Noxolo, P, Baxter, R, Daley, P, Byron, M (2017) The 2017 RGS-IBG chair’s theme: decolonising geographical knowledges, or reproducing coloniality?, Area, 49(3), pp.384-388
- Esson, J. Gough, K.V. Simon, D. Amankwaa, E. Ninot, O and Yankson, PWK (2016) Livelihoods in motion: linking transport, mobility and income-generating activities, Journal of Transport Geography, 55, pp.182-188
- Esson, J (2015) ‘You have to try your luck’: male Ghanaian youth and the uncertainty of football migration, Environment and Planning A, 47(6), pp.1383-1397
- Esson, J (2015) Escape to victory: development, youth entrepreneurship and the migration of Ghanaian footballers, Geoforum, 64, pp.47-55
- Esson, J (2015) Better Off at Home? Rethinking Responses to Trafficked West African Footballers in Europe, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 41(3), pp.512-530