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Staff Profile

Prof Kevin Hetherington

Prof Kevin Hetherington

Dean and Director of Studies



I have worked on a range of spatial issues across the disciplines of Geography and Sociology for the past 20 years. I am currently Professor of Geography at The Open University (since 2005) and previously held a Chair in Cultural Sociology at Lancaster University.

I am currently Dean and Director of Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences and was previously Associate Dean (Research) (2008-2011) and Head of Department in Geography (2011-2012).


BA (Hons) Geography and Sociology (Leeds)
PhD (Lancaster)

Research interests

My recent work has focused on a number of areas.

Museums and cities

I work at the theoretical/philosophical end of museum studies though I have in the past carried out empirical work on issues of access and disability in museums. Particular interests here include the spatiality of museum practice, theorizing museums, and museums, temporality and history. In 2003 I helped establish the online, open access journal Museum and Society with Susan Pearce and Gordon Fyfe and was co-editor of it until 2009. The journal is hosted by the Museum Studies department at University of Leicester.

The remains of the past within the present

In some ways this is connected to my interest in museum and heritage issues but also to questions of cities, materiality and memory. I am interested in exploring issues of ruin, fragment and trace in the constitution of social and spatial practice. A forthcoming co-edited book (with Robin Smith) Urban Rhythms will be published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2013.


I have had a longstanding interest in issues of consumption since my first publication of a chapter on the Stonehenge Free Festival as a site of consumption in Rob Shield's Lifestyle Shopping (1992). This interest takes in a co-edited book (1996) and my more recent Capitalism's Eye (2007) which engages with issues of consumer space, commodity fetishism and reception. I have also written on the issue of disposal within consumption practices.

Spatial theory

This runs through all of my work on museums, the past, cities and consumption. It also takes in the work of Foucault, Benjamin, The Situationists, Actor-Networks, Michel Serres as well as a range of themes within cultural geography (haunting, the senses, the underdetermined, absent-presence).

My most recent research has focused on issues of materiality, consumption and spatiality. I have recently completed research into the making of consumer spaces in the nineteenth century. This involves an attempt to re-theorize commodity fetishism around questions of subjectivity and practice. I also have an ongoing research interest in museums and other sites of public culture, having carried out work in recent years on issues of:

  • access and non-visual understandings of museums
  • the changing place of the museum in contemporary urban regeneration strategies

I am happy to consider PhD supervison in any of the areas mentioned here or on related themes.

I am a member of two research centres: The OpenSpace Research Centre (Open University) and the ESRC funded Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC) (Open University/University of Manchester).

With Tony Bennett and Penny Harvey I'm co-editor of the CRESC book series Culture, Economy and the Social (Routledge).

Recent publications

A selection of my research publications can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.


Robin Smith and Kevin Hetherington (2013 forthcoming) Urban Rhythms, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell/The Sociological Review Monographs.

Anne Cronin and Kevin Hetherington (eds) (2008) Consuming the Entrepreneurial City: Image, Memory, Spectacle, New York: Routledge.

Kevin Hetherington (2007) Capitalism's Eye: Cultural Spaces of the Commodity, New York: Routledge.

Kevin Hetherington (2000) New Age Travellers: Vanloads of Uproarious Humanity, London: Cassell.

Kevin Hetherington (1998) Expressions of Identity: Space, Performance, Politics London, Thousand Oaks Ca., New Delhi: Sage/Theory, Culture and Society.

Kevin Hetherington and Rolland Munro (eds) (1997) Ideas of Difference: Social Spaces and the Labour of Division. Oxford and Cambridge Mass.: Blackwell.

Kevin Hetherington (1997) The Badlands of Modernity: Heterotopia and Social Ordering, London and New York: Routledge.

Stephen Edgell, Kevin Hetherington and Alan Warde (eds) (1996) Consumption Matters: the Production and Experience of Consumption, Oxford and Cambridge Mass: Blackwell.

Recent journal articles

Kevin Hetherington (2011) 'Foucault, the Museum and the Diagram', The Sociological Review, Vol 59(3): 457-475.

Kevin Hetherington (2007) 'Manchester's Urbis: Urban Regeneration, Museums and Symbolic Economies', Cultural Studies, Vol. 21 (4-5): 630-649.

Kevin Hetherington (2004) 'Second-handedness: Consumption, Disposal and Absent Presence' Environment and Planning D: Society and Space Vol. 22(1): 157-173.

Kevin Hetherington (2003) 'Spatial Textures: Making Place Through Touch' Environment and Planning A. Vol 35(11): 1933-1944.

Kevin Hetherington (2003) 'Accountability and Disposal: Visual Impairment and the Museum', Museum and Society Vol. 1(2): 104-115.

Kevin Hetherington (2002) 'The Unsightly: Visual Impairment, Touch and the Parthenon Frieze' Theory, Culture and Society Vol. 19(5-6): 187-205.

Last updated: 8 November 2012