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Scott Leatham


Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


I'm interested in how the fundamental drivers of social/ecological crises are reproduced and legitimised in society, and the social/environmental justice struggles that emerge to challenge these power structures. As a result, I often focus on the reproduction of market fundamentalist, anthropocentric, and (neo)colonial value systems within environmental movements. This means I'm often concerned with greenwash, false solutions, and the co-option of radical imaginaries in ways that prevent new worlds becoming. My current research engages with queer theory and (Western) degrowth imaginaries to critique the neoliberalisation, anti-radicalism, and (more recently) growth-dependency of queer acceptance discourse, arguing for a radical engagement between post-growth economics and queer theory.    

My PhD (at De Montfort University, UK and partly hosted by Liaoning University, China) was on contrasting neoliberal sustainable development discourse with the emergent discourse of 'ecological civilization' in China - focusing on its deployment in international spaces. This was mainly understood around the contrasting constructions of commodification, consumerism, and the environmental-consumer subject, winning an Award for Contributions to Research. 

Current research activities

I'm primarily a discourse analyst, using both archival and "field" approaches to analyse non-solicited (i.e. naturally occuring) discourse - though I will often triangualte this with other methods, including open interviews.

My current research focuses on three broad areas: 

  • Queer theory and degrowth (together with Jo Becker, Universidade de Vigo). This explores two arguments relating to the need for radical engagement between degrowth imaginaries and queer theory, and what lessons can be learned from queer organising in marginal spaces. 
  • Critiquing the dominance of narrowly defined, anthropocentric modes of valueing and 'knowing' nature, and how queer, pluriversal modes of thinking requires, to some extent, the acceptance of 'not knowing' to contend with the epistemic violence of an ever-expanding capitalistic and anthropocentric agency over nature. 
  • The articulation and pursuit of a 'just transition' in Scotland. I contrast this discourse with both the radical requirements of present socio-economic crises as well as both codified and emergent principles of environmental justice.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land