Professor Emma Roe is a leading trans-disciplinary more-than-human geographies scholar within the field of animal geographies and agro-food studies. Current research is related to Global Challenges including creating a carbon-neutral agro-food system, tackling the rise in anti-microbial resistance and most recently supporting a return to public transport through and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. She is often found working with those outside her discipline (veterinary science, microbiology, health science, rural studies, anthropology, sociology and economics, artists) and with community and industry partners when relevant.
Her work has received research funding from the UK Economic and Social Research Council, UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, the European Commission, the British Academy, the Wellcome Trust, the Global Challenges Research Fund, the Animal Welfare Foundation and the University of Southampton. She has
- written over 25 peer-reviewed journal articles, book-chapters, reports and short articles.
- published the books ‘Food and Animal Welfare’ (Bloomsbury) with Henry Buller and ‘Participatory research in a more-than-human world’ (Routledge) with Michelle Bastian, Owain Jones and Niamh Moore
- presented research findings to academic and non-academic audiences, nationally and internationally, including laboratory animal technicians, the food industry, farm veterinary professionals and the arts-design community.
- received an Understanding Animal Research Openness Award in 2020 for the Mouse Exchange.
Currently, she sits on Sweden’s Formas research panel for Animal Health and Welfare 2019-22 and is external examiner for Geography and Environmental Studies at the Open University, UK (2021-25).
Her more-than-human geographical approach is characterised by analysing human-nonhuman relations in two ways.
Firstly human-nonhuman relations are inter-corporeal, this is a theoretical and pragmatic interpretation to rework imaginations of individual choice and identity. Articulating the inter-corporeality of more-than human life means we cannot materially, emotionally and practically disconnect our interpretation of what is taking-place, from the processes of life and their affects that deeply connect human and non-human bodies (animal, vegetable, viral forms) and through these connections to fellow human lives. Agro-food networks (especially food animal-based) and research animal provisioning networks are two research sites that re-occur to explore this in her work where there are rich ethical and environmental challenges at stake in what goes on. More recently she has extended this approach to infection prevention networks within and beyond agro-food to public transport. Her thinking develops from relational materialism combined with corporeal feminism to closely attend to bodily vulnerabilities to feel, to be harmed, to need care, and to be dis-assembled, especially in spaces where voicing those vulnerabilities have historically been marginalised, but which by doing so can help leverage behaviour or regulatory changes.
Secondly, she pays close attention to ethics in practice in accounting for changes to how a non-human is given capacities to participate in knowledge-making, - whether for example animal, virus, bodily tissue, or meat -, because of changing situated knowledges and sensitivities for a nonhumans’ behaviour and character. This is a critical approach when addressing Global Challenges related to Planetary Health across the fields of agro-food and public health as shifting cultures of economic, regulatory and social practices circulate around how relations between humans and non-humans are stabilised, shift and change.
She brings an energy and enthusiasm for qualitative, ethnographic, behavioural approaches to the study of what people do, think, and feel and how that is shaped by knowledges of the non-human and wider cultural economic and social infrastructures. Always keen and interested in bringing disciplinary knowledges of the non-human subject, other than her own, into a cross-disciplinary interpretative framework. Social infrastructure can include regulation, market instruments, marginalised voices, cultural beliefs, anxieties and norms that may in various ways block or ease behaviour, market and institutional changes needed to address Global Challenges. Her work straddles the social science and humanities literature on human-nonhuman relations taking in more-than-human geographies, anthropology, animal studies, environmental humanities and cultural economic geography.
Public and industry engagement work is central to much of her work, where she often tackles challenging public engagement topics. For example public engagement around animal research or the potential invisible viral infection risks in the air we breathe on public transport, or historically moves away from animal-based food protein consumption. In recent work in this area of knowledge exchange she continues to develop the Becoming Ecological Citizenship approach (with Dr Paul Hurley) to public engagement that foregrounds a sensory, durational engagement with the object of concern and a juxtaposition of different knowledges/voices on the topic. The award-winning Mouse Exchange is one example. A new project The Micro-pet Community bus is another. She also has worked with the Food Standards Agency in targeting antibiotic reduction with the food system.
She has a longstanding specialism in the social scientific study of farm animal welfare in the food supply chain through research in the UK, Hungary, Western Europe and China. This interest began when working as a leading social scientist in the EU WelfareQuality® project 2004-2009, managing the UK and cross-European studies of the retail and food service sector study of foodstuffs with higher animal welfare standards. These research interests are currently being developed through intersection with tackling on-farm antibiotic reduction in UK, Kenya and Malawi, and intersection with drivers for global reduction in livestock production to address the climate crisis.
She is always interested to hear from potential PhD or Research Fellows who share her research interests or would welcome her contribution as a supervisor to a transdisciplinary supervisory team.
- Ms Rebecca Thomas - A holistic approach to laboratory welfare. 2018-2021
- Mrs Preeti Dhuria - Investigating legislative options to curb the promotion of unhealthy foods in prominent retail locations: building a complex adaptive system 2018-2024
- Ms Kate Goldie - Geographies of care in pet-keeping: The case of pet-pigs. 2020-2023
- Ms Ellie Atayee-Bennett – Veganism within the Abrahamic Faiths
- The Mouse Exchange (2020)
- Third Prize (Art) in the 2022 Biofilm Create! Competition (2022)