Dr Francesca Fois

BA (University of Cagliari, Italy); MiM (University of Cagliari, Italy); MA (Durham University); PhD (Newcastle University)

Dr Francesca Fois

Post-Doctoral Research Associate (GLOBAL-RURAL)

Contact Details


Francesca’s background is in Economics and Management. Her interests in geography began in 2007 when she undertook her Master’s thesis on local development in Argentina. The project investigated the Argentinean economic crisis and the impacts of a national development programme for micro-enterprises in the metropolitan areas of Córdoba and La Rioja.

In 2009, she joined the Geography Department at Durham University undertaking an MA in Research Methods in Human Geography. After collaborating with Rome University, she moved to Newcastle University where Francesca undertook a PhD research in Human Geography. This explored the social, economic, spiritual and spatial enactment of alternative spaces such as intentional communities by critically interrogating the themes of utopianism and heterotopia. Drawing on ethnographic research, the thesis offers a context-specific exploration of how alternative orderings can be enacted in the global south (Brazil) and north (Italy).

While concluding her PhD, she was appointed as a Teaching Associate in Economic Geography in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham. After spending 16 months in Nottingham and obtaining her PhD in December 2015 from Newcastle, she moved to Aberystwyth and since May 2016, she is working as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate on the project ‘The Global Countryside: Rural Change and Development in Globalization’ (GLOBAL-RURAL) led by Professor Mike Woods.

Additional Information

Current Research:

Post-Doctoral Research Associate on the project ‘The Global Countryside: Rural Change and Development in Globalization’ (GLOBAL-RURAL) which is funded by the European Research Council until January 2019. The project aims to advance understanding of globalization and its workings in and through rural localities by employing assemblage theory, critical topography and relational perspectives. The Principal Investigator is Professor Mike Woods and the research team includes; Dr Jesse Heley, Dr Laura Jones, Dr Anthonia Ijeoma Onyeahialam and Dr Marc Welsh.

GLOBAL-RURAL is organized around five research-focused work packages and will draw on field research in a range of countries. Francesca will primarily be working on WP4, Differential Global Engagements in Emerging Rural Economies, which addresses questions about how trajectories of rural development are influenced by global processes and networks. This package focuses on the global south and she will conduct extensive research in Brazil and China.

Additionally, Francesca will be working on WP5, Rural Assemblages and Grounding Global Challenges, to examine the contested implementation in rural localities of schemes to address ‘global challenges’ such as climate change, food security, energy stability and water supply in Brazil, China, Italy and Wales.


In other institutions, Francesca has previously contributed to the teaching of a range of different modules in Human Geography such as:

¬ Exploring Human Geography (Year 1)

¬ Geographical Field Course (Year 1)

¬ Geographical Analysis (Year 1)

¬ Geographical Study Skills (Year 1)

¬ Tutorials (Year 1)

¬ Techniques in Human Geography (Year 2)

¬ Economic Geography (Year 2)

¬ Social Geographies (Year 2)

¬ Geographies of Development (Year 2)

¬ Geographies of Money and Finance (Year 3)

¬ Geographies of Commodities (Year 3)

¬ Cities, Communities and Gender (Year 3)

¬ Caribbean Societies: development, voice and the everyday (Year 3)


Francesca’s research interests are focused around the intersections between economic, social, developmental and spiritual geographies with a particular geographical focus on European (Italy and UK), Latin American countries (Brazil and Argentina) and, more recently, China. She is an expert in ethnographic research and has a wealth of experience in a range of qualitative methods including: in-depth interviews, focus groups, participatory observation, discourse analysis. She is also involved in action-based research working closely with the Terra Mirim community in Salvador, Brazil.

Her research interests fall within the following five themes:

1) Rural development and globalisation: To understand the interplay of local and global actors and processes and human and non-human actors in reproducing and contesting globalization in the rural sphere.

2) Sustainability and social movements: To understand how environmental issues are locally addressed, and how diverse ecological consciousness exist around the world.

3) Alternative spaces: To explore the enactment of alternative economic, social and cultural spaces and how grassroots groups and networks challenge dominant mainstream ontologies. To study the conceptual frameworks of utopianism and heterotopia.

4) Spiritual geographies: To investigate alternative spiritualties and to overcome the ‘spirit-phobia’ within academia by advocating the need for ‘embodied methodologies’ to further understandings of the enactment of spiritual spaces. To explore the intersection between spirituality and lifecourse.

5) Scales and assemblages: To adopt a relational approach that integrates scales and assemblages in studying socio-spatial phenomena.

Research Groups


Enacting experimental alternative spacesFois, F. 2018 In : Antipode.
Shamanic spiritual activism: alternative development in the Brazilian Itamboatá valleyFois, F. 2017 In : Third World Thematics: A TWQ Journal.2, 2-3, p. 338-35518 p.
Understanding ethnography through a life course framework: a research journey into alternative spiritual spacesFois, F. 2017 In : Area.49, 4, p. 421-428
Self-built ecovillage in L’Aquila (Italy): community resilience as a grassroots response to an environmental shockFois, F. & Forino, G. 2014 In : Disasters.38, 4, p. 719-739
Struttura e spazialità dei movimenti di opposizione alla localizzazione di basi militari: il caso di VicenzaParagano, D. & Fois, F. 2012 In : Rivista Geografica Italiana.119, 4, p. 373–399
More publications on the Research Portal