Professor Judith Pallot's Portrait Unveiled

Wednesday 14th June saw the unveiling of a brand new portrait to be hung in Christ Church hall. The portrait, painted by artist Jason Sullivan, is of Emeritus Student (Emeritus Fellow) in Geography Professor Judith Pallot. Professor Pallot will be the first female fellow to have her portrait in the hall, joining illustrious former members and other figures associated with college, such as Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey, John Locke and William Gladstone. As well as this, she is of particular significance at Christ Church due to her status as the first female Official Student (Fellow), joining the college in 1979.

The portrait was unveiled at a drinks reception in the Picture Gallery on Wednesday night, attended by many members of the college including academic staff and staff from the Picture Gallery. Before revealing the new portrait, the Dean spoke of how much had changed at Christ Church since Professor Pallot’s appointment, going on to talk about how lucky students felt to have been taught by her during their time at the college. Professor Pallot then spoke of what a special experience it was to sit for her portrait, and said that she hopes that this will be part of a process of wider diversification in the portraiture at Oxford. Artist Jason Sullivan was then invited to tell us more about the portrait itself, describing the times he had spent walking around college with Professor Pallot to find the perfect backdrop for the portrait, before settling on her offices. He then provided a fascinating insight into various aspects of the picture, such as the inclusion of a painting of Baboushka to denote Professor Pallot’s research interests and time spent in Russia, some ivy on the wall in the background to show her love of nature, the typically Christ Church chair that she is sitting on, and a teacup in the foreground, to symbolise the excellent hospitality that Jason received whilst working at Christ Church. It was interesting to hear both the Dean and Professor Pallot’s insights into Professor Pallot’s time at Christ Church, and the thinking behind Jason’s choices regarding what was included in the portrait - we're looking forward to seeing the portrait once it's been hung in the hall later this year.

Professor Pallot was appointed only 6 years after Balliol was the first traditionally all-male college to elect a woman as a Fellow and Tutor. The first female students started at Christ Church in 1980, around the same time as the rest of the previously all-male colleges started admitting women, and since 2008, when St Hilda’s was the last all-female college to admit men, all of the colleges have been co-educational. The University website has more information on the history of women at Oxford.

Since Professor Pallot joined the college in 1979, progress has been made and 31% of our teaching and research staff are now female. Of these, 54% of our up-and-coming academics (Junior Research Fellows and Postdoctoral Fellows) are female, which certainly bodes well for the future when it comes to increasing the proportions of female academic staff at Christ Church and other higher education institutions.

Many Oxford colleges and other institutions that are part of the University are working towards improving the diversity of the portraits they have on display, through increasing the representation of women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds. You can find out more on the University pages about diversifying portraiture.



Professor Pallot’s research interests include agrarian transformation in post-Soviet Russia, and the geography of penality in Russia. After studying for her first degree at the University of Leeds, she completed a doctorate at University College London. Following this, much of her postgraduate career was spent in Russia, as an academic exchange student at Moscow University, before she returned to Leeds to take up a post as a lecturer in the Geography and Russian departments.

After her arrival at Oxford, she was responsible for developing the teaching and research of Soviet and Russian Geography, and actively sought to promote interdisciplinary links in Russian and Eastern European Studies. Whilst at Christ Church she taught core papers in Human Geography, as well as the geography of post-Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe. She was also involved in teaching a final-year paper that forms part of the Geography honours course, focussing on the geography of Russian and East Central Europe, as well as lecturing in the first year course on Cold War political geography. She was a graduate supervisor for topics ranging from environmental issues and rural society, to contemporary urban change.

Professor Pallot first visited the USSR when she was a postgraduate exchange student, and in the late 1980s was instrumental in facilitating exchange agreements with Russian geographers, bringing many geographers who had never left the USSR to Oxford as part of a scheme funded by the British Council. She recently forged links with the Federal Penal Service in the Russian Federation Ministry of Justice, instigating a formal agreement with the Academy of Law and Penal Management in Ryazan that has led to a collaborative research project.

For more information on Professor Pallot, please see her profile on the School of Geography and the Environment website.