Dr John Round

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Senior Lecturer in Human Geography

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

John Round is a socio-economic geographer whose main research interest is concerned with how people/households develop tactics to cope with marginality in all its forms. His PhD examined how senior citizens survive in the Russian far north east city of Magadan in the face of extreme economic marginalization and hostile climatic conditions.  After this he researched the experiences of middle aged men in St Petersburg in relation to changing notions of work in the early post-Soviet period. From this he developed an interested in informal economic practices as a coping tactic to economic exclusion and this led to a large scale project, funded by the ESRC, exploring the nature and role of the informal economy in Moscow and Kyiv concluding that informality is an integral part of the post-Soviet everyday.

John’s research is influenced by the work of Lefebvre in relation to (non)theories of the everyday and state/society relationships and de Certeau with regard to the construction, and difference between, the strategies and tactics of everyday life. His recent project, supported by the Open Society Foundation, to explore the everyday experiences of labour migrants in Moscow and Kazan from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The project examines the problems labour migrants face in Russia and the impact of migration on those remaining at ‘home’. It is particularly interested in how migrants access social welfare, such as health services; the precarious nature of their employment; problems with registration and housing and interactions with the state.


PhD Geography ‘The Social Costs of Transition. A Case Study of Magadan Oblast’ (University of Birmingham, Geography) 2003

MSc World Space Economy (University of Birmingham, Geography) 1998

BA Geography (University of Liverpool) 1995


While currently spending most of his time in Moscow John contributes to the following modules in GEES;

Berlin Field Trip

GM333 Post-Socialist Transformation: Moscow

GM406 Critical Globalisations

Postgraduate supervision

John Round's research is concerned with the social and political geographies emerging from the collapse of the Soviet Union. He is particularly interested in the forms of individual/community coping strategies developed as a response to the economic marginalisation which has occurred across post-Soviet regions. He explores how such practices are spatially constructed, revealing unequal power dynamics in state-society relations and the role that corruption plays in everyday life.

Other activities

International Editor for The International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

Academic Lead for International Laboratory for Comparative Urban Studies:  Kazan Federal University

I am currently acting as an international expert on the ‘Пересматривая социальную политику на постсоветском пространстве: идеологии, акторы и культуры’ (Revision of Social Policy in Post-Soviet Space: ideologies, actors and cultures) seminar series run by the Saratov Centre for Social Policy and Gender Research, 2010 – 2013. The aim of this course is to support the teaching development of young Russian academics, especially in the context of research led teaching. Part of this role also includes running classes on publishing in English language journals.

I am a member of the ESRC’s peer review council. I also fulfil similar roles for the Russian Federal government’s humanities research fund and for the Ministry of Science for the government of Kazakhstan.

I am the International Academic Advisor for the EU Centre VOICES at Kazan (Volga Region) Federal University.

I am the academic lead for the CARUS (Central Asia to Russia migration) migration network which brings together Russian academics, policy makers and NGOs working on labour migration issues.


Recent publications


Williams, CC, Round, J & Rodgers, P 2013, The Role of Informal Economies in the Post-Soviet World: The End of Transition? Routledge Studies in the Modern World Economy, Routledge.


Kuznetsova, I & Round, J 2019, 'Postcolonial migrations in Russia: the racism, informality and discrimination nexus', International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 39, no. 1/2, pp. 52-67. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-08-2018-0131

Round, J & Kuznetsova, I 2016, 'Necropolitics and the migrant as a political subject of disgust: the precarious everyday of Russia’s labour migrants', Critical Sociology, vol. 42, no. 7-8, pp. 1017-1034. https://doi.org/10.1177/0896920516645934

Andres, L & Round, J 2015, 'The creative economy in a context of transition: A review of the mechanisms of micro-resilience', Cities, vol. 45, pp. 1-6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2015.02.003

Andres, L & Round, J 2015, 'The role of ‘persistent resilience’ within everyday life and polity: households coping with marginality within the ‘Big Society'', Environment and Planning A, vol. 47, no. 3, pp. 676 – 690. https://doi.org/10.1068/a46299

Kuznetsova, I & Round, J 2014, 'Communities and social care in Russia: the role of Muslim welfare provision in everyday life in Russia's Tatarstan region', International Social Work, vol. 57, no. 5, pp. 486-496. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020872814536417

Williams, C, Nadin, S, Rodgers, P & Round, J 2012, 'Rethinking the nature of community economies: some lessons from post-Soviet Ukraine', Community Development Journal, vol. 47, no. 2, pp. 216-231. https://doi.org/10.1093/cdj/bsq064

Williams, CC, Round, J & Rodgers, P 2011, 'Explaining the Normality of Informal Employment in Ukraine: A Product of Exit or Exclusion?', American Journal of Economics and Sociology, vol. 70, no. 3, pp. 729-755. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1536-7150.2011.00789.x

Moran, D & Round, J 2010, 'A Riddle, Wrapped in a Mystery, inside an Enigma: Teaching Post-Socialist Transformation to UK Students in Moscow', Journal of Geography in Higher Education, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 265-282. https://doi.org/10.1080/03098260903502687

Round, J & Williams, C 2010, 'Coping with the social costs of 'transition': Everyday life in post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine', European Urban and Regional Studies, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 183-196. https://doi.org/10.1177/0969776409356158

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Kuznetsova, I & Round, J 2021, Migrants’ Islamic practices in Russian cities: coping in “cities of exception”. in M Laruelle & J Schmoller (eds), Cultures Of Islam: Vernacular Traditions and Revisionist Interpretations across Russia. Central Asia Program, The George Washington University, Washington , pp. 95-101. <https://www.centralasiaprogram.org/cultures-islam-vernacular-traditions-revisionist-interpretations-russia>

Kuznetsova, I, Mogilevskii, R, Murzakulova, A, Abdoulbaetova, A, Wolters, A & Round, J 2021, Migration and COVID-19: Challenges and Policy Responses in Kyrgyzstan. in M Laruelle & B Radjabov (eds), COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND CENTRAL ASIA: Crisis Management, Economic Impact, and Social Transformations. Central Asia Program, The George Washington University, pp. 149-158. <https://www.centralasiaprogram.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Laruelle-ed-Covid-and-Central-Asia-2021-Final-1.pdf>

Round, J & Kuznetsova, I 2021, The Struggle for Formal Work: The Everyday Experiences of Russia’s Central Asian Labour Migrants. in R Turaeva & R Urinboyev (eds), Labour, Mobility and Informal Practices in Russia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe : Power, Institutions and Mobile Actors in Transnational Space. 1 edn, BASEES/Routledge Series on Russian and East European Studies, Routledge, Taylor & Francis, London, pp. 19-35. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003176763-2

Kato, J, Kuznetsova, I & Round, J 2019, The nature of ‘illegal’ migration in Japan and the United Kingdom. The impact of attitudes towards migrants, social cohesion and future challenges. in ‘The nature of ‘illegal’ migration in Japan and the United Kingdom: the impact of attitudes towards migrants, social cohesion and future challenges’: IRiS Working Paper Series, No. 35/2019. Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS), University of Birmingham. <https://superdiversity.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/iris-node-wp-4-2019-1.pdf>

Round, J & Kuznetsova, I 2018, States of exception in a super-diverse city: the compromised mobility of Moscow’s labor migrants. in M Laruelle & C Schenk (eds), Eurasia on the move. Interdisciplinary approaches to a dynamic migration region. Central Asia Program, The George Washington University, pp. 107-119. <http://centralasiaprogram.org/publications/memos-and-ebooks>

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