Dr Anna Barford

Human Geography

Research Themes

Currently I am working on Regimes of Austerity: Economic Change and the Politics of Contraction. This research examines the politics of austerity in British and North American cities as they respond to recession, recovery, fiscal uncertainty, growing economic inequality, and changing policy demands. With Principal Investigators Dr Mia Gray and Dr Betsy Donald, we: (1) Examine how inequality and the politics around the distribution of public resources have changed at the local level in mid-sized British cities over the last twenty years. (2) Investigate how a city’s economic, demographic and political base can shape the newer politics of austerity. (3) Consider how economic change, inequality and the politics of redistribution inform traditional theories of urban political and economic geography. This builds on my earlier work mapping inequalities, analysing discourses about socio-economic inequality, and engaging with the work of The Equality Trust and the York Fairness Commission.

Some of my earlier research has a specific health focus. I researched the history of infectious diseases amongst forced migrants, drawing data from population displacements around the world, as part of a team working on a project entitled Humanitarian Crises, Population Displacement and Epidemic Disease 1901-2010. This research was headed by Geography Professors Matthew Smallman-Raynor and Andy Cliff. I have also worked at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Public Health, investigating pathways to diagnosis for melanoma patients, with Dr Fiona Walter.

My PhD was concerned with attitudes towards international inequality amongst people positioned differently along a spectrum of wealth. I ran discussion groups with teachers in Kenya, Mexico and the UK to access the discourses surrounding inequality that exist in these diverse settings. This was complemented by a statistical analysis of world attitude surveys.

Prior to beginning my PhD I worked on a world mapping project with Professor Danny Dorling, which produced hundreds of cartograms (apparently distorted world maps) to show variables ranging from to wealth distribution, to species at risk of extinction, to commuting times. This resulted in the publication of The Atlas of the Real World: mapping the way we live. These maps can be freely accessed at: www.worldmapper.org.


I supervise on the Part IA Human Geography paper and I teach on the Part II Austerity and Affluence paper. I also supervise students on their dissertation proposals, research and analysis.


Fellow of The Higher Education Academy.

College Role

Official Fellow

Degrees, Awards and Prizes

BA (University of Cambridge), MA (University of Nottingham), PhD (University of Sheffield).