Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Alice Mah


Room: E0.21a

Telephone: +44 (0) 2476 522205


Industrial Ruination, Community and Place


Alice Mah is Professor of Sociology and Principal Investigator of the 5-year European Research Council (ERC)-funded project Toxic Expertise: Environmental Justice and the Global Petrochemical Industry (2015-2020). She holds a PhD in Sociology from the London School of Economics. Her internationally recognized research on industrial ruination, post-industrial port cities, and environmental justice have been motivated by a deep concern with social inequalities, across different dimensions and scales. She has conducted comparative, mixed-method sociological research in the UK, France, Belgium, Russia, China, the US, and Canada.

Alice is the author of Port Cities and Global Legacies (2014, Palgrave Macmillan), which examines the politics of urban identity, waterfront work, and radicalism in the port cities of Liverpool, Marseille, and New Orleans. This book traces post-industrial and post-colonial legacies of inequality and political unrest through each city, drawing on diverse sources, from crime novels, to museum exhibitions, to detailed ethnographies of dockworker and activist communities. Her first book Industrial Ruination, Community, and Place (2012, University of Toronto Press) was winner of the 2013 BSA Philip Abrams Memorial Prize. This comparative ethnographic research explored lived experiences of industrial ruination in Niagara Falls, USA/Canada; Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK; and Ivanovo, Russia.

Alice is also founder and co-editor of Toxic News, a quarterly e-magazine about toxics in everyday life.

Current Research Projects

Grants and Prizes

2018-2021. 2017 Philip Leverhulme Prize in Sociology

2015-2020. Toxic Expertise: Environmental Justice and the Global Petrochemical Industry- Principal Investigator, Sociology, Funded by: European Research Council Starting Grant.

2015 Sage Prize for Innovation and/or Excellence for "The Dereliction Tourist" in Sociological Research Online

2014-2015. ESRC Connected Communities Imagine Project: ‘The Social, Historical, Cultural and Democratic Context of Civic Engagement’, Role: Co-Investigator.

2013. Philip Abrams Memorial Prize, British Sociological Association, for the best first and sole-authored monograph in Sociology (Industrial Ruination, Community, and Place)


Selected Publications


Edited Books

  • Davies, T. and A. Mah. (eds) (forthcoming, in press) Toxic Truths: Environmental Justice and Citizen Science in a Post-Truth Age, Manchester: University of Manchester Press.
  • Behal, R., A. Mah, and B. Fall. (2011) Rethinking Work: Global Historical and Sociological Perspectives, Delhi and Berlin: Tulika Books and Humboldt University.

Journal Articles

Book Chapters

Public Writing

Doctoral Supervision

  • Zainab Moulvi, "Culture, ecology and social transformation: The case of the Thal desert." Co-supervised with Virinder Kalra.
  • Patricio Flores Silva, "Exploring limits for transnational environmental justice: the Arica Victims v. Boliden Minerals case." Co-supervised with Nerea Calvillo.
  • Anissa Yu, "Identifying, recognising, and reconciling value differences in social movements: The case of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement." Co-supervised with John Solomos.
  • Cong Wang, "From “digital” to “smart”: the future expectation behind Intelligent Transportation System in China from 2008 to 2017." Co-supervised with Steve Fuller.
  • Alexandra Kviat (completed in 2019), "Placemaking in the post-functionalist and post-digital city: the case study of Ziferblat." Co-supervised with Hannah Jones.
  • Julian Molina (completed in 2017), “Intervention Work: An Ethnography of NEET to EET Transitions.” Co-supervised with Noel Whiteside.

Postdoctoral Researchers

  • Lorenzo Feltrin, Research Assistant, Toxic Expertise, global petrochemical case studies, 2019-2020
  • David Brown, Research Assistant, Toxic Expertise, global petrochemical case studies, 2018-2019
  • Ellie Martus, IAS WIRL Co-Fund Research Fellow, 2017-2019, post-Soviet environmental politics, from autumn 2019 Lecturer in Public Policy at the University of Brisbane
  • Thomas Verbeek, Research Fellow, Toxic Expertise, corporate network & risk perception research, 2017-2019, from Sept 2019 Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Department of Urban Studies & Planning, University of Sheffield
  • Calvin Jephcote, Research Fellow, Toxic Expertise, environmental health research, 2017-2019, from July 2019 Postdoctoral Research Associate in GIS for Environmental Health, University of Leicester
  • Loretta Lou, Research Fellow, Toxic Expertise, China research, 2017-2018, from Jan 2019 Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Macau and Visiting Fellow in Anthropology at LSE
  • Thom Davies, Research Fellow, Toxic Expertise, Louisiana research, 2015-2018, from autumn 2018 Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Nottingham
  • Xinhong Wang, Research Fellow, Toxic Expertise, China research 2015-2017, from 2017 Honourary Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick