Dr Suzanne Hocknell

Department: Geography
Discipline: Geography

Project Summary

2017-2018 Research Associate, Newcastle UniversityCorporate food retailers, meat supply chains and the responsibilities of tackling antimicrobial resistance, with Dr Alex Hughes (PI), Dr Emma Roe, Prof. Neil Wrigley, Prof. Michelle Lowe and Prof. Bill Keevil (Co-Is): 

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has major global implications for human health, animal health, agriculture, and the economy. The 2016 O’Neill report identified the reduction of "the extensive and unnecessary use of antibiotics in agriculture" as one of four key interventions needed to tackle AMR, yet within the food industry antimicrobial drugs remain important and necessary tools to support farm animal health and welfare, and the safety of foodstuffs.

Most microbes are not harmful to human health, indeed many are necessary to digest food and for the continuation of life, but all microbes can share genetic material, including AMR, with neighbouring micro-organisms. This ability of microbes to adapt to antimicrobial drugs means that neither better prescribing nor the development of new drugs will be sufficient to stop the spread of AMR. The cycles of drug efficacy, resistance and obsolescence can, however, be slowed.  Slowing the spread of AMR in meat supply chains is not a straightforward problem of tackling over prescription, but a challenge to improve practices of animal welfare to limit the need for antimicrobials, and to change routines of hygiene, consumption and food preparation to reduce the transmission of resistance.

Funded by the ESRC and supported by the FSA and VMD, this project explores the role of retailers in navigating the global antimicrobial resistance challenge. Supermarket chains are a bridge between production and consumption and so are potentially well positioned not only to encourage the reduction of antimicrobial use in agriculture, but to monitor and minimise movement of antimicrobial resistance through food supply chains, and to raise consumer awareness of the shared challenges of antimicrobial resistance.



2016 - 2017, Research Assistant, University of Exeter: Feeding Exeter

ESRC IAA Impact Cultivation Award project (with Prof. Stewart Barr & Dr Rebecca Sandover).  This research engages a participatory approach to work alongside the emerging Exeter Food Network as the group develops its strategies and strengthens its communities for building a resilient food future for Exeter.  This project builds on relationships established during the organisation and delivery of a farm based food symposium for which I received ESRC student-collaboration funding to (with Dr Rebecca Sandover) bring together academics, food producers, food retailers and food activists in a collaborative process of agenda setting for food research.


2012 - 2016, PhD Research, University of Exeter:  Fat Chance? Eating-well with margarine.  

Soon to reach its 150th anniversary, margarine was one of the first modern foods, and over time has been constituted from cattle, whales, herring, coal, cotton, sunflowers and more.  Does the ability of margarine to adapt to the availability of raw materials whilst maintaining consistency in the taste, texture, and health properties consumers seek in a yellow fat, constitute sustainability and food security, and is this eating well?

This research engages margarine as a research participant in order to investigate food systems:  which bodies and relationships they valorise or disregard.   Through exploring encounters between producers, eaters and the stuff of margarine I practice a form of embodied politics, and begin to develop methodologies that work to enhance solidarity within, and between, human and non-human communities. 

I was supported in this project by my supervisors Prof. Steve Hinchliffe who sits on the Social Science Research Council of the FSA, and Dr. Ian Cook a food geographer who co-developed the ‘Follow-the-Thing’ methodology to explore how bodies relate through and with commodities.

Supervisory Team

Dr Ian Cook & Professor Steve Hinchliffe

Wider Research Interests

more than human geographies; community cohesion and resilience; materiality; visceral geographies; food geographies; ontological politics; political economy; social movements; qualitative methods.

Authored Publications/Reports

Hocknell, Suzanne (2016) Chewing the Fat: Unpacking distasteful encounters, Gastronomica: The journal of critical food studies, 16 (3), 13-18. [ https://www.academia.edu/25959054/Chewing_the_Fat_Unpacking_distasteful_encounters ]