Ben Coles is a broadly trained economic and political geographer who researches the intersections between commodities and markets, with a particular focus on food. Of particular interest to Ben are the ways in which markets and economies in the abstract sense are grounded in everyday practices and processes of the marketplace, and other places of production and consumption. His research is informed through a place-centred methodology that he calls ‘topo/graphy’ (place-writing), which he uses to interrogate the material, social, discursive and sensual assemblies that constitute place. Ben has deployed topo/graphy in a variety of contexts relating the economic and political spaces of the UK, EU, Latin America and beyond to examine a diverse array of geographical questions surrounding the ‘geographies’ of commodities and foods (coffee, wine & chickens), of production/consumption/in-between (markets, farms and factories), of social anxiety and of food-bio-security. He is currently working in Sao Paulo on a project that examines the ‘nexus’ of food, water and energy, and in the UK a project that examines the ‘Anthropocene Chicken’.
Since 2011, Ben has lectured on economic and political geography at the University of Leicester, UK, and is a Co-director of the Supermarkets Research Network (SuRN). Prior to his appointment at Leicester, Ben was a research fellow in the Interdisciplinary Centre for Social Sciences (ICOSS), at the University of Sheffield. He has a Ph.D. in Geography from Royal Holloway, University of London, and degrees from the University of Kansas.