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Faculty of Social Sciences

Staff Profile

Prof Steve Pile

Faculty of Social Sciences
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom

Professor of Human Geography



BSc, MA, PhD (Lond)

Course development and teaching

My main priority over the last few years has been the maintenance and presentation of Living in a globalised world (DD205), which explores contemporary social, cultural and environmental processes at a global scale. I am also involved with the presentation and maintenance of a masters module: Changing cities: urban transitions and decision making (D837).

Research interests

My research is primarily concerned with the relationship between place and the politics of identity. For example, I have undertaken a series of investigations into the relationship between the city, everyday life and the spatial constitution of power. This work has found outlets in projects such as City A-Z and also a sole authored book, Real Cities: modernity, space and the phantasmagorias of city life. This book makes a case for taking seriously the more imaginary, affective and emotional aspects of urbanism. Drawing inspiration from the work of Walter Benjamin, Sigmund Freud, Georg Simmel and various psychogeographers, Real Cities explores the dream-like and ghost-like experiences of city life.

A further strand of work has been to intervene in how Geography, as a Discipline, is conceived in terms of its practices, content and approaches. My main contribution has been to promote the legitimacy of a psychoanalytic approach to Geography, as first set out in The Body and the City. Most recently, I have edited, along with Paul Kingsbury, a 'state of the art' collection, titled Psychoanalytic Geographies. However, my contribution to 'thinking geographically' has also involved a more cultural take on Geography, as can be seen in the edited volume, Handbook of Cultural Geography, as well as an attempt to rethink the settlement between human and nonhuman geographies, as in Patterned Ground.

Recent publications have focused on the relationship between affect, the body and spatiality. The aim is to write a book along these lines, for publication in the RGS/IBG book series.

I am a member of the OpenSpace Research Centre.

Recent publications

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

Kingsbury, P. and Pile, S. (eds) (2014). Psychoanalytic Geographies, Farnham: Ashgate.

Pile, S. (2014). Beastly Minds: rethinking the human in nonhuman geographies – using two of Freud's case studies, Emmy von N. and the Wolfman. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

Pile, S. (2012). Distant feelings: telepathy and the problem of affect transfer over distance. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 37(1) pp. 44–59.

Pile, S. (2011). Spatialities of skin: the chafing of skin, ego and second skins in T. E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Body & Society, 17(4) pp. 57–81.

Pile, S. (2011). Skin, race and space: the clash of bodily schemas in Frantz Fanon's Black Skins, White Masks and Nella Larsen's Passing. Cultural Geographies, 18(1) pp. 25–41.

Pile, S. (2010). Intimate Distance: The unconscious dimensions of the rapport between researcher and researched, The Professional Geographer, 62(4) pp. 483-495.

Pile, S. (2010). Affect and Emotion in Recent Human Geography. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 35(1) pp. 5–20.

Pile, S. (2009). Topographies of Mind-and-Body: Skin Ego, Body Ego and Memento', Subjectivity, 27 pp 134-154.

Pile, S. (2008). 'Where is the subject? Geographical imaginations and spatialising subjectivity', Subjectivity, 23(2) pp 206–218.

Pile, S. (2006) 'The Strange Case of Western Cities: occult globalisations and the making of urban modernity', Urban Studies 43(2) pp 305-318.

Pile, S. (2005) Real Cities: modernity, space and the phantasmagorias of city life, London: Sage.

Harrison, S., Thrift, N. and Pile, S. (eds) (2004) Patterned Ground: entanglements of nature and culture, London: Reaktion.

Anderson, K., Domosh, M., Thrift, N. and Pile, S.(eds) (2003) Handbook of Cultural Geography, London: Sage.

Pile, S. and Thrift, N. (eds) (2000) City A-Z, London, Routledge.

Nast, H. and Pile, S. (eds) (1998) Places through the Body, London, Routledge.

Pile, S. and Keith, M. (eds) (1997) Geographies of Resistance, London, Routledge.

Pile, S. (1996) The Body and the City: Psychoanalysis, Subjectivity and Space, London, Routledge.

Pile, S. and Thrift, N. (eds) (1995) Mapping the Subject: Geographies of Cultural Transformation, London, Routledge.

Keith, M. and Pile, S. (eds) (1993) Place and the Politics of Identity, London, Routledge.

Last updated: 25 April 2014