Profile: Chris Philo

Professor Chris Philo, Department of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, Scotland. Chris’s ongoing research interests involve the historical, cultural and rural geographies of mental ill-health among others. He was head of the department at Glasgow from 2002 to 2005, and has also served on the Geographical and Environmental Studies RAE Sub-Panel.

Chris Philo was born in Hertfordshire, England, UK. He earned a BA in Geography from the University of Cambridge in 1983. He worked with Derek Gregory on a Ph.D., which he completed in 1992. He began teaching in the Geography Department at St. David’s University College, Lampeter, in 1989; he joined his present affiliation in 1995.

Chris has many professional interests, spanning the history, theory and practice of geography in various subfields: social geography, specifically of ‘outsider’ human groupings; rural geography; animal geography; as well as different corners of population geography, cultural geography, political geography, etc. In terms of broader conceptual position, he classifies himself a Foucauldian with concerns to work constructively with a diversity of post-structural and post-humanist theories, while also wishing to maintain connections with certain longer-term traditions of the disciplin e.

Chris has published a book — A Geographical History of Institutional Provision for the Insane from Medieval Times to the 1860s in England and Wales: The Space Reserved for Insanity (Edwin Mellen Press, 2004). He has continued to work on aspects of the historical geography of mental ill-health, his most recent publication in this genre being: Madness, memory, time and space: the eminent psychological physician and the unnamed artist-patient, Environment and Planning D, Vol 24 (2006), pp 891-917. He has just co-edited a theme section of the journal Health Place, on local historical geographies of psychiatry, to appear later in 2009. The co-editor is John Pickstone (University of Manchester), a well-known historian of science and medicine.

He has also undertaken research on the contemporary geographies of mental ill-health, not least with Dr Hester Parr (University of Glasgow) in an Economic and Social Research Council (UK) funded research project on ‘Rural mental health’, which took us to the remoter parts of the Scottish Highlands to observe how mental ill-health is experienced, treated (or not), included or excluded across the open, windy landscapes of this sparsely-populated and environmentally challenging region. For details see:

Chris may be contacted at

Updated: March 2009