culture + environment creating health + wellbeing engaged research

Charlotte Jones

Research Fellow


I received my PhD on the theorisation and medicalisation of sex in 2016 from the Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield. This work explored personal experiences and broader social conceptualisations of intersex and variations in sex characteristics in the UK, with a focus on relationships and recognition.

Prior to joining the University of Exeter, I was Research Fellow at the Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh (2018-2019). I continue to work in collaboration with Dr Ingrid Young and other colleagues at Edinburgh’s Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society on the relationship between sexuality, activism and biological citizenship in the context of HIV PrEP provision in the UK. Before moving to Edinburgh, I worked on the EU-funded Universities Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence (USVReact) project at Brunel University (2016-2018), which researched, developed, and evaluated new education programmes for university staff who may respond to disclosures of sexual violence. I was also Research Fellow on a series of AHRC-funded projects known collectively as Around the Toilet (2015-2018), a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam as well as numerous other contributors, artists, and organisations. This work, led by Dr Jen Slater, critically examined the notion of (in)accessibility by considering gender and disability in the context of the toilet, and won the NCPPE Engage Award in the Arts, Humanities and Social Science category in 2016.

Since 2019, I’ve been a member of the Editorial board for The Sociological Review. In 2021, I worked with colleagues to develop the Queer Disability Studies Network, an international collaboration between students, academics, and activists focusing on issues at the intersections of queer/trans and disability/crip studies.

Research Interests

My main research interests lie in gender, sexuality, disability and health, and particularly the intersections of these areas. My work responds to wider debates within feminist theory, biopolitics, queer theory and critical disability studies, exploring the regulative concepts of ‘normal’ morphology, identities and behaviour and the ways in which these models shape our understanding of what kinds of lives and bodies can be considered viable, permissible and desirable.

I’m leading three new projects at the Wellcome Centre: one exploring new ways of thinking about (in)fertility, sex, and the life course (Reprofutures); a second addressing the impact of new hygiene measures on workers since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic (Beers, Burgers + Bleach); and a third engagment project on LGBTQIA loneliness (The Beat of Our Hearts).

Reprofutures is an engaged project which started in 2019, exploring (in)fertility and reproductive possibilities from a life course perspective. Drawing on my doctoral research, I’m working with a group of activists, campaigners and support groups to examine the personal impact and social implications of infertility and other reproductive barriers that occur alongside variations of sex characteristics/intersex traits. This project will contribute to critical ideas about healthcare and the life course, raising important questions about autonomy, support and temporality. In particular, we will be asking how normative development narratives and perceptions of embodied ‘timeliness’ or synchronicity influence our ways of understanding in/fertility. This work is funded by an Engaged Research Exploratory Award.

Beers, Burgers + Bleach: Hygiene, toilets, and hospitality in the time of COVID-19 is a collaboration between academics, hospitality workers, trade unions and local campaigners, responding to rapidly changing circumstances in the hospitality sector. Together with colleagues at the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam, we are exploring the labour involved in new hygiene routines during the current public health crisis, with particular attention on the cleaning and monitoring of toilets, and the impact these additional measures have had upon the lives, safety, and responsibilities of hospitality staff. The study was funded by a Wellcome Centre Enhanced Research Award.

The Beat of Our Hearts – staging new histories of LGBTQIA loneliness is a collaboration between the WCCEH, Exeter’s Northcott Theatre, playwright Natalie McGrath, and LGBT+ charity Intercom Trust. This project engages audiences with the history of loneliness and solidarity in LGBTQIA communities, reconnecting them with queer lives of the past. Together we will transform existing research by Dr Fred Cooper and I into a programme of creative workshops in Devon and Cornwall in partnership with the Intercom Trust, which will culminate in the development and staging of an original performance at Exeter’s Northcott Theatre, written by playwright Natalie McGrath. This work is funded by an EDI Engagement Fellowship awarded by the UK Research and Innovation’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Since starting at the WCCEH, I have been contributing to one of the Centre’s Beacon projects, Loneliness and Community, alongside my colleague Dr Fred Cooper. Together we co-founded a student lived experience group on loneliness in 2019, which started with a series of workshops and in 2020 developed into a creative journalling project on loneliness and Covid-19. With our colleague, Dr Olly Clabburn, we launched The Lockdown Blues in 2020, a UNESCO-funded repository for creative reflections on isolation in lockdown in the Southwest of England. This project is an ongoing collaboration with Devon Libraries and Exeter Phoenix. Alongside Fred, I also co-founded the South West Loneliness Network in 2019, connecting academics, students, university staff, community organisations, charities, public health experts, and people with lived experience of loneliness.

Recent publications

Cooper, F. and Jones, C. (2021), ‘Co-production for or against the university: student loneliness and the commodification of impact in COVID-19’, Qualitative Research Journal, (ahead of print).

Jones, C. (2020) ‘Intersex, Infertility and the Future: Early Diagnoses and the Imagined Life Course’, Sociology of Health & Illness, 42, 1, 143-156.

Jones, C., Young, I. and Boydell, N. (2020) ‘The People vs the NHS: Biosexual citizenship and hope in stories of PrEP activism’, Somatechnics.

Jones, C. and Slater, J. (2020) ‘The toilet debate: Stalling trans possibilities and defending ‘women’s protected spaces’’, in S. Erikainen, R. Pearce and B. Vincent (Eds.) TERF Wars, The Sociological Review, 68, 4, 834–851. Book chapter and journal article.

Jones, C., Slater, J., Cleasby, S., Kemp, G., Lisney, E., and Rennie, S. (2019) ‘Pissed Off! Disability activists fighting for toilet access in the UK’ in M. Berghs, T. Chataika and Y. El-Lahib (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Disability Activism.

Jones, C. and Chappell, A. (2019) ‘Feminist education for university staff responding to disclosures of sexual violence: a critique of the dominant model of staff development’, Gender and Education.

Slater, J., Jones. C, and Procter, L. (2019) ‘Troubling School Toilets: Resisting discourses of ‘development’ through a disability studies lens’, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 40, 3, 412-423.

Kneale, D., Jones. C., et al. (2019) Conducting sexualities research – an outline of emergent issues and case studies from ten Wellcome-funded projects, Wellcome Open Research. https://wellcomeopenresearch.org/articles/4-137/v1