Profile: Robert Wilton

Dr. Robert Wilton, Associate Professor, School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Robert’s research interests include geographies of disability and mental health, addiction treatment and recovery, and social geography of cities, with emphasis on processes of exclusion.

Robert Wilton grew up in Wiltshire in the southwest of England. He earned a BA at the University of Hull (UK) and MA and PhD degrees from the University of Southern California (USA). His interest in health geography truly began with his exposure to research on mental health and deinstitutionalization. He has David Sibley, his undergraduate tutor at Hull, to thank for this. He was also fortunate enough to study with Michael Dear and Jennifer Wolch for his graduate degrees.

Today, Robert’s research is located at the intersection of health geography and social geography, and is broadly concerned with the issue of exclusion. He is interested in (1) the ways that problem groups within society are excluded from valued environments, (2) the ways in which this exclusion reproduces the marginal or problem status of such groups, and (3) the capacity of such groups to contest their exclusion.

To date, his work has focused on the exclusion of people with HIV/AIDS, physical disabilities, mental health problems, and drug/alcohol addiction. His doctoral research examined the origins of community opposition to housing for disabled persons. A recent project explored the exclusion of disabled persons from spaces of paid employment, and the strategies used by individuals to contest this exclusion.

He is currently working with a coalition of psychiatric survivors on a collaborative project to document the negative impacts of poverty and poor housing on the community integration of people living with mental illness. He is also working with Geoff Deverteuil (University of Southampton) on a project examining the social geographies of drug/alcohol addiction treatment. In addition, he is co-editing a book with Edward Hall (Dundee University) and Vera Chouinard (McMaster) on the geographies of disability (forthcoming with Ashgate Publishing). His last publication was a paper on disabled workers’ experiences of emotional labour in service sector occupations, which appeared in Disability and Society (2008).

Robert may be contacted at

Updated: February 2009