Dr Martin Purvis

Profile

Historical and political geography; geographies of retailing and consumption in 19th-and 20th-century Britain and Europe; the development of co-operation and other popular initiatives; European political geographies; political and urban geographies of central Europe.

Although Martin’s research and publications span a range of fields including attention to contemporary environmental issues, his most enduring research interests are in historical and political geography. Recent work has included exploration of aspects of the political geography of central Europe, focusing in particular on the region of the upper Adriatic around the city of Trieste where Italy borders upon Slovenia and the broader realm of the Yugoslav successor states. Martin’s interest in this area derives originally from joint leadership of a former undergraduate student fieldtrip based in Trieste, thus forging an important link between research and teaching.

Currently Martin is working on a project that reflects his long-standing interests in the historical evolution of retailing and consumption. The focus of this latest initiative is on retail developments in interwar Britain. Key themes include the expansion of new forms of large-scale retailing and what now appears a worryingly prescient interest in the impact of economic downturn upon retail fortunes.

PhD supervision

I welcome PhD applications in the following areas:

  • Historical geography – particularly the development of the modern city in Britain and continental Europe, to geographies of retailing and consumption (the Marks & Spencer archive in Leeds offers rich research opportunities), and to the development of popular associations
  • Political geography – with particular reference to Europe from the 19th century onwards

Geographies of retailing and consumption in interwar Britain

Work under this heading focuses upon two main themes. The first is the evolution of retail systems, paying particular attention to both the development of new forms of large-scale retailing and the impact of such developments upon other retailers. My work is distinctive in paying particular attention to co-operative retailing, a sector which made a more substantial and distinctive contribution to retail innovation than is often now recognised. The second theme reflects a desire to know more about the diverse circumstances in which interwar retailers operated. Although some evidence points to growing geographical uniformity in the range of products on sale and consumer tastes, the wider economic upheavals of the interwar period also resulted in considerable variations in consumer confidence and spending power. The unfolding evidence of the impact of today’s economic downturn upon the high street arguably reinforces the relevance of exploring the ways in which previous ‘hard times’ affected retailing and consumption.

Related publications and conference papers

  • Purvis, M. (2009) Retailing and economic uncertainty in interwar Britain: co-operative (mis)fortunes in north-west England, in Baigent, E. and Mayhew, R. J. (eds) English Geographies 1600-1950. Historical Essays on English Cultures, Customs and Communities in Honour of Jack Langton, SJC Research Centre, pp 127-43.
  • Purvis, M. (2009 forthcoming) Economic uncertainties and retail geographies in 1920s and 1930s Britain, 14th International Conference of Historical Geographers, Kyoto.
  • Purvis, M. (2008) The “curse” of democracy: co-operative reactions to the development of private multiples in interwar Britain, Conference of the Centre for the History of Retailing and Distribution, Telford.

Political and urban geographies of the Upper Adriatic

Visits to the city of Trieste and to the surrounding region with undergraduate student field trips have sparked a research interest in themes relating to this fascinating and often contested region. The historical relationship between Trieste and its hinterland – both terrestrial and maritime – raises some important issues of wider relevance to current discussions about the relationships between cities and states. As a city close to the borders of the state within which it currently sits Trieste is also an appropriate site in which to explore the continuing resonances of historical memories of contest in today’s supposedly ‘borderless’ Europe. These themes are explored in my contributions to a special issue of Social and Cultural Geography focusing on Trieste and the upper Adriatic.

Related publications and conference papers

  • Purvis, M. (2009) Between late-lasting empire and late-developing nation-state: a Triestine perspective on city/state relations, Social and Cultural Geography 10: 305-23.
  • Purvis, M. and Atkinson, D. (2009) Performing wartime memories: ceremony as contest at the Risiera di San Sabba death camp, Trieste, Social and Cultural Geography 10: 343-62.
  • Purvis, M. (2008) Boundary identities and wartime remembrance in the Upper Adriatic, 7th European Urban and Regional Studies Conference, Istanbul.

Previous Projects

Business understanding of the causes and impacts of global atmospheric change

This was an ESRC-funded project exploring aspects of public understanding of the complicated science of global atmospheric change. The importance of business decisions in shaping humanity’s environmental impacts is widely appreciated, but attention amongst researchers and policy-makers often remains focused upon a minority of major companies. This tends to down-play the collective significance and impact – in both economic and environmental terms – of the multitude of smaller businesses. From this starting point the project explored responses to environmental challenges and concerns in specific economic sectors where small and medium-sized enterprises are common. Attention to the refrigeration industry also revealed the complexity of the challenges facing a sector in which attempts to address initial concerns about stratospheric ozone depletion raised fresh controversy in the light of subsequent anxiety about the industry’s contribution to climate change.

Selected publications

  • Drake, F., Purvis, M. and Hunt, J. (2004) Meeting the environmental challenge: a case of win-win or lose-win? A study of the UK baking and refrigeration industries, Business Strategy and the Environment 13: 172-86.
  • Purvis, M., Hunt, J. and Drake, F. (2001) Global atmospheric change and the UK refrigeration industry: redefining problems and contesting solutions, Geoforum 32: 143-56.
  • Drake, F., Purvis, M. and Hunt, J. (2001) Business appreciation of global atmospheric change: the United Kingdom refrigeration industry, Public Understanding of Science 10: 187-211.
  • Purvis, M., Drake, F. and Hunt, J. (2000) The manager, the company and the big wide world, in Fineman, S. (ed) The Business of Greening, Routledge.

Geographical perspectives upon sustainable development

This initiative brought together a series of colleagues, past and present, from the School of Geography at Leeds to explore sustainable development in ways that reflected geography’s core interests in space and place, as well as the discipline’s key role as a bridge between the social and the environmental sciences. These discussions were given tangible form by the production of an edited volume entitled Exploring Sustainable Development: Geographical Perspectives. The essays contained in this collection covered both key topics – including theories of sustainable development, urban sustainability, sustainable agriculture and business – and issues rooted in particular regions – including Arctic development and changing approaches to environmental management in Japan. Martin was co-editor of this book and author (or co-author) of several chapters.

Selected publications

  • Purvis, M., and Grainger, A. (eds) (2004) Exploring Sustainable Development: Geographical Perspectives, Earthscan.
  • Purvis, M. (2004) Business, capital and sustainable economic development, in Purvis and Grainger (eds) above.
  • Purvis, M. (2004) Climate change, energy and sustainable development, in Purvis and Grainger (eds) above.
  • Purvis, M. And Grainger, A. (2004) Future perspectives: developing sustainable development, in Purvis and Grainger (eds) above.

Co-operative retailing in Britain and Continental Europe C.1820-1914

The recent renewal of my interests in retailing and consumption outlined above has earlier echoes in my research on key developments in nineteenth-century Britain. The particular focus of this work was on the origins and development of the co-operative movement, both as an important dimension of the expansion and improvement of retail provision in industrialising Britain, and as a substantial expression of popular self-help. Several of my publications in this field, which also grew to embrace the exploration of retail co-operation in parts of continental Europe, have appeared in translation, or have been reprinted in collections of key papers on retailing and consumption. My expertise also resulted in the invitation to contribute a dozen essays on leading co-operators to one of Britain’s most respected reference works, the Dictionary of National Biography.

Selected publications

  • Purvis, M. (2004) The Rochdale Pioneers, in Matthew, H. C. G. and Harrison, B. (eds) Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press.
  • Purvis, M. (1999) Crossing urban deserts: consumers, competitors and the protracted birth of metropolitan co-operative retailing, International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research 9(3): 225-43.
  • Purvis, M. (1998) Societies of consumers and consumer societies: co-operation, consumption and politics in Britain and continental Europe c.1850-1920, Journal of Historical Geography 24(2): 147-69. (Reprinted in Clarke, D. B., Doel, M. A. & Housiaux, K. M. L. (eds) (2003) The Consumption Reader, Routledge.)
  • Purvis, M (1992) Co-operative retailing in Britain, in Benson, J. & Shaw, G. (eds) The Evolution of Retail Systems, c.1800-1914, Leicester University Press.
  • Purvis, M. (1990) The development of co-operative retailing in England and Wales 1851-1901: a geographical study, Journal of Historical Geography, 16: 314-331. (Reprinted in Benson, J. and Shaw, G. (eds) (1999) The Retailing Industry, I B Taurus.)
  • Purvis, M. (1986) Co-operative retailing in England, 1835-1850: developments beyond Rochdale, Northern History 22: 198-215. (Reprinted in Benson, J and Shaw, G. (eds) (1999) The Retailing Industry, I B Taurus.)

Grants

Previous

  • Dr D. Phillips, Dr N. Majury, Dr M. Purvis and Dr P. Waley (1.10.98 to 30.9.2000)
    'Research leave: critical human geography group'
  • Dr M. Purvis and Dr F. Drake (1.4.96 to 30.6.98)
    'Global Environmental Change and European Business' ESRC Grant 440669
  • GEOG 1310: People, Place & Politics
  • GEOG 2020: Politics & Development

Present position

  • Senior Lecturer in Human Geography

 Employment history

  • 2000- Senior Lecturer in Geography, School of Geography, University of Leeds
  • 1989-2000 Lecturer in Geography, School of Geography, University of Leeds
  • 1988-89 Temporary lecturer in geography, University of Exeter
  • 1987-88 Temporary lecturer in geography, College of St Paul and St Mary, Cheltenham
  • 1986-87 Temporary lecturer in geography, Loughborough University

Other details

Other posts

  • Earth and Environment Faculty Representative on the University Scholarships Committee
  • Geography representative on ESSL Faculty Research Committee
  • 1991-98 Director Postgraduate Studies, School of Geography
  • Tutor for MGEOG Programme, School of Geography
  • Purvis, M. (2009) Between late-lasting empire and late-developing nation-state: a Triestine perspective on city/state relations, Social and Cultural Geography 10: 305-23.
  • Purvis, M. and Atkinson, D. (2009) Performing wartime memories: ceremony as contest at the Risiera di San Sabba death camp, Trieste, Social and Cultural Geography 10: 343-62.

Selected papers

  • Purvis, M. (2009) Between late-lasting empire and late-developing nation-state: a Triestine perspective on city/state relations, Social and Cultural Geography 10: 305-23.
  • Purvis, M. and Atkinson, D. (2009) Performing wartime memories: ceremony as contest at the Risiera di San Sabba death camp, Trieste, Social and Cultural Geography 10: 343-62.
  • Purvis, M. (2009) Retailing and economic uncertainty in interwar Britain: co-operative (mis)fortunes in north-west England, in Baigent, E. and Mayhew, R. J. (eds) English Geographies 1600-1950. Historical Essays on English Cultures, Customs and Communities in Honour of Jack Langton, SJC Research Centre, pp 127-43.
  • Purvis, M. (2009 forthcoming) Historical geographies of finance, in Kitchin, R. and Thrift, N. (eds) International Encyclopaedia of Human Geography, Elsevier.
  • Purvis, M. (1998) 'Societies of consumers and consumer societies: co-operation, consumption and politics in Britain and continental Europe c.1850-1920', Journal of Historical Geography 24(2), 147-69.
  • Purvis, M., Drake, F., Clarke, D., Phillips, D. and Kashti, A. (1997) 'Fragmenting uncertainties. Some British business responses to stratospheric ozone depletion', Global Environmental Change, 7(2), 93-111.
  • Purvis, M. (1994) 'Yesterday in parliament: British politicians and debate over stratospheric ozone depletion, 1970-92', Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 12, 361-79.
  • Clarke, D. B. and Purvis, M. (1994) 'Dialectics, difference and the geographies of consumption', Environment and Planning A 26, 1091-1109.
  • Purvis, M. (1992) 'Co-operative retailing in Britain', in Benson, J and Shaw, G. (eds) The Evolution of Retail Systems, c.1800-1914, Leicester.
  • Purvis, M. (1990) 'The development of co-operative retailing in England and Wales 1851-1901: a geographical study', Journal of Historical Geography, 16, 314-331
  • Purvis, M. (1986) 'Co-operative retailing in England, 1835-1850: developments beyond Rochdale', Northern History 22, 198-215.

Papers (since 1996)

  • Drake, F. & Purvis, M. (2001) 'The effect of supersonic transports on the global environment: a debate revisited', Science, Technology & Human Values, 26(4), 501-28
  • Drake, F., Purvis, M. & Hunt, J. (2001) 'Business appreciation of global atmospheric change: the UK refrigeration industry', Public Understanding of Science, 10(2), 187-211
  • Purvis, M. and Smith, R. (2001) 'Sustainable agriculture in a global perspective: relevance for Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Economic Journal, NS 2(1): 101-56
  • Purvis, M., Hunt, J. and Drake, F. (2001) 'Global atmospheric change and the UK refrigeration industry: redefining problems and contesting solutions', Geoforum, 32(2): 143-56
  • Purvis, M. (in prep) 'British imperialism and the co-operative commonwealth: consumers' co-operation and an empire of goods', Journal of Historical Geography
  • Ingham, J., Purvis, M. and Clarke, D. (1999) 'Hearing places, making spaces: sonorous geographies, ephemeral rhythms, and the Blackburn warehouse parties', Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 17(3) 283-305
  • Purvis, M. (1999) 'Crossing urban deserts: consumers, competitors and the protracted birth of metropolitan co-operative retailing', International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research.  Volume 9, No. 3, 225-243.
  • Purvis, M. (1998) 'Stocking the store: co-operative retailers in north-east England and systems of wholesale supply, circa 1860-77' Business History 40(4), 55-78.
  • Purvis, M. (1998) 'Societies of consumers and consumer societies: co-operation, consumption and politics in Britain and continental Europe c.1850-1920', Journal of Historical Geography 24(2), 147-69.
  • Purvis, M., Drake, F., Clarke, D., Phillips, D. and Kashti, A. (1997) 'Fragmenting uncertainties. Some British business responses to stratospheric ozone depletion', Global Environmental Change, 7(2), 93-111.

Books

  • Purvis, M. and Grainger, A. (2002 forthcoming) (eds) 'Geographical Perspectives on Sustainable Development'  Earthscan, London

Book chapters

  • Purvis, M. (2004) 'Alice Acland, 1849-1935' in Matthew, H.C.G. and Harrison, B. (eds) Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford
  • Purvis, M. (2004) 'John Bailey, 1898-1969', in Matthew, H.C.G. and Harrison, B. (eds) Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford
  • Purvis, M. (2004) 'Thomas Blandford, 1861-1899', in Matthew, H.C.G. and Harrison, B. (eds) Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Purvis, M. (2004) 'William Cooper, 1822-1868', in Matthew, H.C.G. and Harrison, B.  (eds) Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Purvis, M. (2004) 'William Dudley, 1868-1938', in Matthew, H.C.G. and Harrison, B. (eds) Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Purvis, M. (2004) 'Charles Howarth, 1814-1868', in Matthew, H.C.G. and Harrison, B.  (eds) Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Purvis, M. (2004) 'Benjamin Jones, 1847-1942', in Matthew, H.C.G. and Harrison, B. (eds) Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Purvis, M. (2004) 'William King, 1786-1865', in Matthew, H.C.G. and Harrison, B. (eds) Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Purvis, M. (2004) 'Mary Lawrenson, 1850-1943', in Matthew, H.C.G. and Harrison, B. (eds) Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Purvis, M. (2004) 'Henry May, 1867-1939', in Matthew, H.C.G. and Harrison, B.  (eds) Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Purvis, M. (2004) ' The Rochdale Pioneers', in Matthew, H. C. G. and Harrison, B.  (eds) Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Purvis, M. (2004) 'James Smithies, 1819-1869' in Matthew, H. C. G. and Harrison, B. (eds) Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Purvis, M. (2002) 'Geography and sustainable development', in Purvis, M. and Grainger, A. (eds) Geographical Perspectives on Sustainable Development, Earthscan, London.
  • Purvis, M. (2002) 'Business, capital and sustainable economic development', in Purvis, M. & Grainger, A. (eds) Geographical Perspectives on Sustainable Development, Earthscan, London.
  • Purvis, M. (2002) 'Climate change, energy and sustainable development', in Purvis, M. & Grainger, A. (eds) Geographical Perspectives on Sustainable Development, Earthscan, London.
  • Purvis, M. and Smith, R.T. (2002) 'Sustainable agriculture for the twenty-first century', in Purvis, M. and Grainger, A. (eds) Geographical Perspectives on Sustainable Development, Earthscan, London.
  • Purvis, M. and Waley, P. (2002) Sustaining the flow: Japanese waterways and new paradigms of development.  In Purvis, M. and Grainger, A. (eds) Geographical Perspectives on Sustainable Development, Earthscan, London
  • Purvis, M., Drake, F. and Hunt, J and Millard, D. 2000) 'The manager, the business and the big wide world', in Fineman, S. (ed) The Business of Greening, Routledge, London. pp 13-34
  • Purvis, M. (1999) Commerce and marketing, 1880-1914: co-operative retailing.  In Kain, R and Ravenhill W. (eds) Historical Atlas of South-West England, University of Exeter Press, Exeter, pp 472-75
  • Purvis, M. (1999) 'Stocking the store: co-operative retailers in north-east England and systems of wholesale supply, circa 1860-77', in Alexander, N. and Akehurst, G. (eds) The Emergence of Modern Retailing, 1750-1950, London, 55-78.
  • Purvis, M. (1999) 'Co-operative societies', in Kain, R. J. P. and Ravenhill, W. (eds) An Historical Atlas of South-West England, Exeter.  472-75
  • Hunt, J., Purvis, M. & Drake, F. (1997) 'Business understandings of the environment', in Conference Proceedings of the 1997 Business Strategy and the Environment Conference, 118-23
  • Hunt, J., Purvis, M. & Drake, F. (1997) 'Transforming uncertainty: refrigeration technology in the 1990s', in Proceedings of Uncertainty, Knowledge and Skill Conference, Limbourg
  • Purvis, M. (1996) 'Co-operation, consumption and politics: Europe 1850-1920', in Lancaster, B. and Maguire, P. (eds) Towards the Co-operative Commonwealth. Essays in the History of Co-operation, Manchester, 99-104.
  • Wood, G., Harrison, B. and Purvis, M. (forthcoming) 'Irregular field systems and patterns of settlement in western Yorkshire' in Unwin, T. (ed) From Mountain to Sea: Proceedings of the Permanent Conference for the Study of European Landscapes

Working papers

  • Purvis, M., Hunt, J. and Drake, F. (1998) 'Global atmospheric change and the UK refrigeration industry: redefining problems and contesting solutions' Working Paper 98/12, School of Geography, University of Leeds.
  • Drake, F. and Purvis, M. (1998) 'The effects of supersonic transports on the global environment: a debate revisited' Working Paper 98/2, School of Geography, University of Leeds.
  • Hunt, J., Purvis, M. and Drake, F. (1997) 'Business constructions of the environment' Working Paper 97/12, School of Geography, University of Leeds.

Other publications

Reports

  • Contributor to: Implementing Sustainable Development: Research Insights. ESRC Global Environmental Change Programme Special Briefing, 3, (1998), Scott, A. & Skea, J. (eds).
  • Contributor to: Economic Instruments and the Business Use of Energy. Response to the Consultation Paper: Government Task Force on the Industrial Use of Energy, from the ESRC Global Environmental Change Programme (1998), Skea, J. (ed).
  • Contributor to: UK Government Consultation on Climate Change. Response by the Economic and Social Research Council Global Environmental Change Programme (1999), Scott, A. (ed).
  • Contributor to: UK Government Consultation on Sustainable Development. Response by the Economic and Social Research Council Global Environmental Change Programme (1998), Skea, J. (ed).
  • Drake, F., Hunt, J. and Purvis, M. (1997) 'Small companies, big responsibilities' in Skea, J. and Greene, O. (eds) After Kyoto: Making Climate Policy Work, ESRC Global Climate Change Special Briefing 1, 20-21.

Conferences

  • Purvis, M. (2001) 'The British Co-operative Movement and the Possibilities of Empire': Producing for Consumers and Producing for Development', Eleventh International Conference of Historical Geographers, Universite Laval, Quebec
  • Purvis, A., Drake, F. and Purvis, M. (2001) 'The Politics of Climate Change Research', Twelfth Global Warming Conference, Cambridge University
  • Purvis, M. (1999) 'Where did it all go wrong?: Co-operative Retailing in Inter-War Britain', Conference on Retailers and consumers in Historical Perspective, University of  Wolverhampton.
  • Purvis, M. (1998) ‘Consumers’ co-operation and an empire of goods’, Tenth International Conference of Historical Geographers, Belfast.
  • Purvis, M. (1998) ‘Contesting urban space: co-operative and private retailers in Britain from the 1860s to the 1920s’, Symposium in Retail History, Manchester
  • Purvis, M., Drake, F. & Hunt, J. (1998) ‘Business networks and environmental innovations’, ESRC Business and Environment Workshop, Leeds
  • Hunt, J., Purvis, M. & Drake, F. (1997) ‘Business understandings of the environment’, Business Strategy and the Environment Conference, Leeds.
  • Hunt, J., Purvis, M. & Drake, F. (1997) ‘Transforming uncertainty: refrigeration technology in the 1990s’, Uncertainty, Knowledge and Skill Conference, Limbourg
  • Purvis, M., Hunt, J. & Drake, F. (1997) ‘Diffusing environmental innovations: expertise and the refrigeration industry’ Second Open Meeting of the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Community, Vienna.

Conferences

Organised

  • March 1998 ESRC Business and Environment Network Workshop
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Qualifications

  • 1982, MA Geography, University of Oxford
  • 1987, DPhil Geography, University of Oxford

Professional memberships

  • Historical Geography Research Group of the Institute of British Geographers

Research groups and institutes

  • Social Justice, Cities, Citizenship
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/research-opportunities">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>