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Dr Alex Arnall


Areas of interest

  • Flooding, coastal erosion and sea defences 
  • Understandings of, and responses to, sea level rise
  • Managed retreat and natural flood management
  • Anthropocene studies and political ecology/geology

Research projects

  • Stories we live by: Discipline-Hopping to Address the ‘Imagination Deficit’ in Anthropocene Thinking, 2023 (NERC Discipline Hopping for Discovery Science)
  • Everyday Security and Global Environmental Change, 2021-22 (University of Reading Research Fellowship)
  • Visualising and Representing Environmental Change in Island Communities, 2020-2021 (ESRC-DFID Joint Fund)
  • Sea-Level Rise and Everyday Lives in Small Island States, 2019-2022 (Australian Research Council)
  • Environmental Change and Everyday Lives in Island Communities, 2017-2019 (ESRC-DFID Joint Fund)
  • Marginal or Marginalised? Investigating Discourses of International Land Acquisition in Southern Mozambique, 2015-16 (British Academy)
  • Perceptions and Understandings of Climate Change and Migration: Conceptualising and Contextualising for Lakshadweep and Maldives, 2012-15 (The Research Council of Norway)
  • Involuntary Resettlement and Livelihoods Restoration in Flood-Affected Communities in Mozambique, 2011-13 (British Academy)


I am a Human Geographer studying the relationship between society and environmental change, mainly in relation to coastal management, erosion and flooding. There are presently three central themes to my work:1) how sea level rise is understood and being acted upon by governments and affected coastal communities; 2) the social dimensions of managed retreat as a flood management and coastal rewilding strategy; 3) Natural Flood Management (NFM) in inland and coastal settings, especially with regard to local community involvement and action. To date, my research has looked at these issues and interventions in three main countries: Mozambique, the Maldives and the UK. 

I have a DPhil in Geography from the University of Oxford on development processes in flood-affected resettlement communities. Prior to joining the University of Reading, I worked as a Consultant for the international firm Environmental Resources Management (ERM) and then as a Research Officer at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS).

Professional bodies/affiliations

My research has been funded by the ESRC, DFID, Australian Research Council, Research Council of Norway and British Academy. I have carried out consultancy for a number of development agencies, including GIZ, Save the Children, Oxfam and WWF. I supervise PhD students funded by the ESRC, Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and Leverhulme Trust. 


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