Dr Martin Zebracki
- Position: Associate Professor of Critical Human Geography
- Areas of expertise: cultural geography; public-art practice; sexuality; queer theory; citizenship; digital culture; social inclusivity
- Email: M.M.Zebracki@leeds.ac.uk
- Phone: +44(0)113 343 3331
- Location: 10.130 Irene Manton Building
- Website: Personal homepage | AHRC-funded research project Queer Memorials: International Comparative Perspectives on Sexual Diversity and Social Inclusivity (QMem) | Twitter
I am an interdisciplinary critical human geographer who is broadly captivated with studying and articulating the relationships between the world as habitat of human beings and human beings as organisers and meaning-makers of the world. How do people construct places and how do places construct people’s behaviour and the meanings they attach to their living environment? I have developed a special relationship with geography and art – for me, geography embraces a canvas for experiencing and hence drawing the world, where the geographer coexist with the artist.
I have specialised in the whys and hows of processes of inclusion and exclusion in arts practises in urban public spaces with a particular intersectional emphasis on socially marginalised populations, in particular lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people and people who identify themselves through non-heteronormative gender and sexual characteristics (LGBTQ+). I have published widely about the intersecting geographies of public-art practice, sexuality, (queer) citizenship, digital culture, and social inclusivity. I am the editor of Public Art Encounters: Art, Space and Identity (with Joni M. Palmer; Routledge, 2017) and The Everyday Practice of Public Art: Art, Space, and Social Inclusion (with Cameron Cartiere; Routledge, 2016). I am a member of international research and professional committees that are key to public-art practice and the study of sexualities. Over the past decade, I have collaboratively designed and convened a large number of themed sessions at major interdisciplinary conferences and specialist forums. I am also a frequently invited speaker at institutions of higher education and research worldwide, most recently at the University of Oslo, Paris Diderot at Sorbonne Paris Cité, Tokyo University of the Arts, University of California–Berkeley, University of Melbourne, University of Canterbury–New Zealand, Western Sydney University, the National University of Singapore, and the University of Montreal. Over the years, I have set new agendas and extensively engaged with peers and research-user audiences in creative sectors, public policy, and activism (e.g., I have co-organised the first-ever Queer Pride grassroots event in the city of Ghent in 2019).
My work also spans collaborations with creative sector partners. For example, I was selected for the 2017 edition of DARE, the partnership between Opera North and the University of Leeds. I was matched with Tyrrell Jones, director of Knaïve Theatre, a Leeds-based arts partnership that exists to connect, challenge and empower public audiences. This resulted in the collaborative stage performance The Ecology of Digital Life: Dear Humans and Cyborgs at Opera North, in further collaboration with a poet and playwright, dancer, and composer.
My commitment to issues of social diversity and inclusivity also transpires in my compound leadership roles as Academic Lead for Inclusive Practice, Equality and Inclusion Leader and the Disability Support Leader in the School of Geography, University of Leeds, and in my roles as Chair of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS-IBG) Space, Sexualities and Queer Research Group and Steering Committee Member of the newly founded national network Queer Research UK (QRUK). Moreover, I am a Member of the Editorial Board of journals including Public Art Dialogue and Digital Geography and Society.
I have an educational background in Human Geography and Urban and Regional Planning at Utrecht University, where I have obtained my BSc Hons degree (with distinction, 2005), MSc Research degree (with distinction, 2007) and PhD degree (2012). In 2006, I pursued graduate research courses in Geographical Thought and Art History at the University of Florida, where I also taught on Social Statistics in the Geography postgraduate research programme. In 2007-2011, I convened various courses straddling the geohumanities at Utrecht Summer School, Utrecht University. I held the combined posts of Lecturer and Postdoctoral Researcher in Cultural and Urban Geography at Wageningen University (2012-13), Utrecht University (2013), and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (2013). I was Academic Advisor and Student Counsellor at University College Utrecht (2011-13), an international selective liberal arts undergraduate college. In 2013, I moved to the School of Geography at the University of Leeds, where I held the role of Lecturer and, as from 2018, Associate Professor of Critical Human Geography. I have moreover attained Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).
- Director International (2023–present)
- Equality and Inclusion Lead (2015–present)
- Academic Lead for Inclusive Practice and Disability (2019–2022)
My research sits within cultural geography at the crossroads of public-art practice, sexuality, (queer) citizenship, digital culture and processes of social inclusion vs. exclusion.
Unlike many studies that have focused on broad socio-economic processes of inclusion and exclusion in cities, my research focus is on understanding these processes through an intersectional analytical lens probing into the critical roles that public-art practices play in (or are remiss in) representing social difference and engaging socially marginalised populations, particularly LGBTQ+ people. Accordingly, I examine, amongst others, how such public-art practices are challenging, or ‘queering’, socio-spatial normativities, including white heteropatriarchal hegemonies, which structure the governance and design of everyday public spaces and their experience and uses among dominant or marginalised individuals or (sub)cultural groups. I have recently expanded my interdisciplinary focus on this under-examined niche by developing innovative agendas for studying the intersections of public-art practice, gender and sexual diversity and citizenship, public commemoration, and social inclusivity in the ever-intensifying digital society.
I am the Principal Investigator of Queer Memorials: International Comparative Perspectives on Sexual Diversity and Social Inclusivity (QMem), supported by a project grant awarded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). QMem aims to provide new insights into the nature of social engagement with public material monuments that are dedicated to the lives of LGBTQ+ people, drawing on case studies from the US, Netherlands, and Poland.
Moreover, I am taking the lead on the collaborative research project CARED: Community Art & Recovery in Environments Disrupted by Disasters with empirical focus on Christchurch, New Zealand and in collaboration with Dr David Conradson (University of Canterbury, Christchurch), which is supported by a Researcher Mobility Award from the University of Leeds Research and Innovation Service.
I am the recipient of the Leeds Social Sciences Institute (LSSI) pump-priming award ACT for Inclusivity: Artivism, Community, Transformation, in collaboration with Dr Maria Rovisco, School of Sociology and Social Policy, and in partnership with visual arts organisation Arts Catalyst that works across art, science and technology.
I have secured an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) Award for the project Pride in the Field (PIF): Promoting Inclusive Fieldwork Spaces for LGBTQ+ Workers in Research, Policy and Practice, in collaboration with the external partner organisation LGBTQ+ Field Network and Project Officer Aydan Greatrick. The project seeks to apply knowledge and approaches developed as part of the AHRC Queer Memorials project. This project has established a proof-of-concept web-based global user support platform for LGBTQ+ fieldworkers (aiming to enhance inclusive fieldwork capacity and related advocacy work), provided and reported on public engagement activities (including knowledge exchange workshops, events, talks, and panels), curated a Spotlighting LGBTQ+ Inclusive Fieldwork blog series published in Geography Directions, and developed scholarly outputs including a commissioned review article and toolkit (i.e. Handbook of LGBTQ+ Inclusive Fieldwork, embargoed at SSRN).
In addition, I am the recipient of an ESRC IAA Public Engagement Award to commission an advocacy video on LGBTQ+ inclusive fieldwork, drawing on the project learnings and impact activities.
Moreover, I am the lead of RESOURCE: Re-writing Spaces of Injustice under Radical Social Change, a project funded by the Royal Geographical Society with IBG (RGS-IBG) that is dedicated to the interactive examination of creative writing approaches to fieldwork, in collaboration with Royal Literary Fund Fellow Emily Diamand.
Supported by a grant from the Interdisciplinary Research and Impact Fund for Culture (IRFC) from the Leeds Arts & Humanities Research Institute (LAHRI) with the Cultural Institute, I am the lead of the project ARISE: Artivism for Environmental Justice – Critical Interdisciplinary Methodologies for Inclusive Change in collaboration with Dr Maria Rovisco and GroundWork Gallery.
Related the above topic, I am the recipient of Leeds (LSSI) – Buenos Aires (UBU) International Strategic Research Partnership Funding in support of the project Artivist Crossings for Climate Justice: Novel Interdisciplinary Methods for Inclusive Environmental Change, in collaboration with Maria Rovisco (School of Sociology and Social Policy) and Lorena Verzero (Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani, University of Buenos Aires & National Scientific and Technical Research Council).
The ARISE and Artivist Crossings partnerships support the collaborative examination and proof of concept of artivist methods for addressing the nexus of climate change and social justice, using creative methodologies including performance/theatre, community voice, and intersectional analysis.
Furthermore, I have been awarded on two occasions an ESRC White Rose DTP Collaborative Award. The awards support doctoral studentships for the research projects Public Arts for Inclusive Placemaking: Perceptions, Evaluations and Actions, in partnership with Beam (trading name of Public Arts), and DISCUSS: Decolonising Sculpture for Urban Social Justice, in partnership with Leeds City Council (see coverage by LSSI and the BBC: ‘Leeds statue study could mean more inclusive public art in the city’).<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>
- PhD, Human Geography & Urban and Regional Planning (Dissertation on Public Art) Utrecht University
- MSc Research (with distinction), Human Geography & Urban and Regional Planning, Utrecht University
- Postgraduate Research, Geographical Thought and Art History, University of Florida
- BSc Hons (with distinction) , Human Geography & Urban and Regional Planning, Utrecht University
- FHEA, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
- Chair, Space, Sexualities and Queer Research Group at the Royal Geographical Society with IBG (RGS-IBG)
- Ordinary Committee Member, Social and Cultural Geography Research Group, RGS-IBG
- Member, Steering Committee Queer Research UK (QRUK)
- Member, Editorial Board of Public Art Dialogue
- Member, Editorial Board of Geo: Geography and Environment
- Member, Editorial Board of Digital Geography and Society
- Member, Editorial Board of Art & the Public Sphere
- Member, Scientific Board of The Journal of Public Space
- Affiliate Member, The Bauman Institute, University of Leeds
- Member, Centre for Cultural Policy, University of Leeds
BA Human Geography:
Level 1: Population, Society and Space
Level 2: Citizenship and Identity: Comparative Perspectives (Module Manager)
Level 3: Dissertation
Level 3: Spaces of Migration and Encounter (2013–19)
Level 3: Global Cities: Miami (2013–19)
MA Human Geography and MA Social Research (Interdisciplinary):
Working Beyond Disciplines
Árpád Bak: Oppressive geographies: Placing Romani ethnic minorities in Hungary's hegemonic heritage landscape, 1890-1990 (White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities [WRoCAH] Scholarship)
Faten Almjlad: Islamic faith-based education and its role in segregation vs. integration in England's society
Pietro Bellomo: The mediation of public art in the daily practices of the student community
David En-Griffiths: Sexuality, class and the social mirror stage
Ida Fagervold: Queer and feminist activist spaces in revolutions: A qualitative examination of the Burma Spring Revolution (external supervision, Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo)
Simone Kenyon: Dancing, mountaineering and embodied ways of knowing
Riah King-Wall: Made to measure: Public art value measurement strategies and their impact on local government arts policy and programming (Commonwealth PhD Scholarship)
Katie Lee: Public arts for inclusive placemaking: Perceptions, evaluations and actions (White Rose Social Sciences Doctoral Training Collaborative Partnership [WRDTP] with Beam, trading name of Public Arts)
Jing Lu: Queer identity and national identity negotiation on homosexual dating apps
Hafidz Wibisono: Network and power in transition policymaking process
Daisy Xiao: Urban critical theory and Chinese public art in the new era (China Scholarship Council Visiting Scholar
Vacancy: DISCUSS: Decolonising Sculpture for Urban Social Justice (White Rose Social Sciences Doctoral Training Collaborative Partnership [WRDTP] with Leeds City Council)
I welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD research across the areas of geographies of public-art practice, sexuality, (queer) citizenship, digital culture and processes of social inclusion/exclusion.
Research groups and institutes
- Social Justice, Cities, Citizenship