CFP: Networks of Knowledge: Communicating Geographical Knowledge in the Long Nineteenth Century

Call for Papers
RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London, 29 August–1 September 2017.

Lecture Theatre

Networks of Knowledge: Communicating Geographical Knowledge in the Long Nineteenth Century

Sponsored by the Historical Geography Research Group

Convened by: Benjamin Newman, Royal Holloway, University of London & Royal Geographical Society (w. IBG) & Innes M. Keighren, Royal Holloway, University of London.

The long nineteenth century witnessed a spike in the production and dissemination of geographical knowledge—a consequence of imperialism and scientific exploration on the one hand, and of improvements in the technologies of print and visual illustration on the other. Whether in the guise of thrilling accounts of heroic “discovery”, or more mundane records of empirical observation, such geographical knowledge was communicated to growing popular and professional audiences through books, periodicals, illustrated lectures, and exhibitions. The development of geographical societies and disciplinary periodicals during this period facilitated the dissemination of knowledge through institutional networks.

In recent years, historical geographers and historians of science have been concerned with the role of institutional networks in the circulation and consumption of knowledge, and with how local circumstances influence the mobility and reception of ideas (Finnegan, 2016; Keighren, 2010; Ogborn, 2010; Rupke, 1999; Secord, 1999; Withers, 2010). It is in relation to such work that we invite historical geographers and allied scholars to present current research concerned with the dissemination of geographical and related knowledge. We welcome papers that consider, among other things, geography’s nineteenth- and twentieth-century print culture, its performed oral traditions, and the technological advancements that encouraged the spread of knowledge to domestic and international audiences, both lay and specialised. Papers dealing with the role of speech, print, image, and object are particularly welcome.

Please submit abstracts (250 words max) to Ben Newman (benjamin.newman.2010@live.rhul.ac.uk) and Innes Keighren (innes.keighren@rhul.ac.uk), along with a title and author details, by 10 February, 2017.

Workshop: The Artificial Cave

by Flora Parrott
In June 2016 I borrowed the ‘Artificial Cave’ from the British Caving Association as part of an ongoing investigation into exploration of the subterranean. It arrived in a transit van in 5 foot sections made from fibreglass, painted black on the outside and blue within.
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The ‘Artificial Cave’

The Landscape Surgery workshop was an attempt to use this method of ‘thinking through making’, something that I talk with Art Students about a lot; an endeavor, no matter how simplistic to generate a physical environment or object that helps to visualise and negotiate a problem.
The groups were each given a short, vivid description from ‘Ice Caves of France and Switzerland’ by G.F Browne (first published in 1865) and asked to make the space described out of a set of resources, including: cardboard, paper, tin foil, newspaper, and various other Blue Peter-esque materials.
The results were energetic and ambitious and after an hour or so we had three ‘caves’ all very different in nature in the room. The materials had been used to represent varied forms, architectures and textures, as well as some fascinating symbolic gestures to forms impossible to make from cardboard and paper. Once the caves were complete, the groups wrote on our paper floor a set of instructions to guide a visitor through the space.

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There were two things that I found particularly interesting about the afternoon; firstly the way in which we respond to a ‘workspace’ and how quickly and dramatically a space and therefore our behaviour within it can be transformed. This was an idea that was also discussed in Cecilie Sachs-Olsen’s session a few weeks before. Whether a space is a presented as a gallery, performance space, lecture theatre or common room can change the uses and dynamics of a space. Secondly, the discussion about the ‘authenticity’ of an experience or thing: whether a reproduction can have an equal but different value to the ‘original’ from which it is drawn. I also like the idea of a text being read as instruction and being conjured into life – uniquely each time.

Flora is a practicing artist and fine art lecturer, currently a Levehulme artist-in-residence at Royal Holloway, and will be commencing her PhD at Royal Holloway in January 2017.

CFP RGS-IBG 2017 – Teaching Mobilities

Jographies

RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017: London, 29th August – 1st September 2017

 Convenors: Peter Adey (Royal Holloway, University of London), Justin Spinney (Cardiff University), and Simon Cook (Royal Holloway, University of London).

 CFP – Teaching mobilities: practice, pedagogies, power

Geographers are well attuned to mobilities – everyday mobilities that constitute our social lives, permitting social reproduction and subverting rules and restrictions to reassert people’s rights to public space; international mobilities that speak to the precarity of our current times, from a global migration crisis, war-torn displacement to eviction; mobilities that comprise expressive cultural practices and movements or perform deep-rooted histories of cultural identity.. Mobilities pervade our research and understandings of the world.

But how do we, or could we teach mobilities? Is mobility, as a concept or concrete example, something we can easily convey or does it offer particular difficulties or opportunities for engaging students?  Are the multiple…

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Workshop: Performing the Urban Archive (and Messages From the Future…)

The Landscape Surgeons were recently treated to a wonderful interactive urban-intervention/creative-archive workshop run by Cecilie Sachs-Olsen, entitled Performing the Urban Archive. A new addition to the department, Cecilie completed her PhD at Queen Marys, University of London, under the supervision of David Pinder (Geography) and Jen Harvie (English and Drama). She has published work in Cultural Geographies (also see here for a piece co-authored with Harriet Hawkins) and Performance Research; and is co-founder of an exciting  urban performance collective, zURBS, which has run various urban interventions and workshops internationally.

The idea of seeing the city as an archive – to approach it as layer upon layer of compacted material detail that is in endless transformation – has always been of great interest and value to Cecilie as an urban researcher and artist practitioner working in and with urban space.

Cecilie writes… “I believe that this approach may imply a certain way of ‘looking’ that has the potential to challenge pre-determined and fixed understandings of urban space in favour of openness, instability and multiplicity. In turn, it may lead to a re-imagination and new understandings of our material surroundings”.

The idea of ‘performing urban archives’ then, seeks to resolve the binary oppositions that are often created between materiality – I’m here referring to the objects and material entities of urban space – and performance, as bodily practices. Each of these concepts is often seen as unable to encompass the essential traits of the other. For example, whereas the archive implies a form of placedness, givenness and nomination to remain, performance is often seen as being so radically in time that it cannot remain in material traces and therefore disappears.

Similar distinctions are made between practice and representation: In geography, representation has been critiqued for fixing and deadening the liveliness of things, resulting in a turn to new approaches that foreground the performative and practiced. The performative approach here tends to focus on an engagement with space that is oriented around immaterial and human-centred action, and risks neglecting substantial considerations of how social processes are bound up with the constraints of the material qualities of space.

Accordingly, performing urban archives turns the attention to how the ways we think about and inhabit cities are both shaped by and materialized in spatial forms, so that rather than seeing materiality as a fixed entity, it is seen as contingent and inherently performative. The idea of performance destabilizes materiality by making explicit the processes in which (the meaning of) materiality is constantly invented.

“When we know what a door is and what it can do we limit ourselves and the possibilities of the door…”  – Anne Bogart (theatre director)

The workshop activity started with an anonymous audio message from the future:

“This is an incoming message from the future. Listen carefully. I repeat, this is a message from the future. Dear people from the past. This message is sent to you by a team of archaeologists from the future.
You will be happy to know that in the future we found the time capsule that you produced today, March 3, 2016. As we understood it, the aim of this time capsule was to give the future an idea of what urban life was like in 2016. The time capsule was mainly filled with objects and some occasional drawings that we guess were an attempt to archive this urban life. But we are confused. The way we understand it in the future, it is people, and not things, that make society. The meaning of an object is determined by the social practices it is part of, and not simply by the object itself. Unfortunately, we have NO idea what these social practices were.
Yes, you might say that this is our job as archaeologists to find out, by digging deep, looking into significant detail, restoring damaged pasts, reading signs in traces of things that have gone before and so on. However, this would require a significant amount of time – and if it is one thing we are short of in the future it is time for substantial research. Luckily, we do have a time machine, so we decided that in order to save time, we would go back in time, just in time to deliver this message before you make the time capsule, so that we can give you some inputs that may help you make it more substantial.
You will all have been given copies of the original map that we found in the time capsule. This map indicates where the things in the time capsule were found. Inside the map you will find our interpretations of the things found in these places. Now, we would ask you to go to these places – as many as you can – and find similar or completely other objects and add notes, drawings, stories and other additions that you find relevant in order to give us a substantial idea of the present: how urban life is, what your experiences of the city is, how the city works, what is important, what is not important and so on.
You’ve got one hour out in the city to do this. Then you will come back here and present what you found and we will see if it will make a valid contribution to the time capsule.
Good luck! End of message.”

With this message in our minds we set out in four teams to try to archive the elements of the city described in a handout from the future, complete with a map of the area around Bedford Square and a set of clues and instructions.
Screen Shot 2016-11-24 at 15.57.24.pngWe could either collect items from the street; or take photos of things that we could not (practically or legally!) remove. Here are the results – our collective catalogue of the urban environment: our time capsule for the future. (Please click on the images for more details on which items relate to which clues, and explanations, where they have been added in the comments.)

We’d like to thank Cecilie for a wonderful afternoon, full of opportunities to challenge familiar ways of conceptualising urban materialities and performativity.

Katy and Huw

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Walking Heathrow: Exploring the fissures of infrastructure

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As I’m sat in my car, parked in the Hatton Cross Station Car Park, I watch as the dark blue hue of the cold November morning sky slowly turns to a light grey, as the sun struggles to pierce the thick blanket of cloud above. Planes rumble up the runway, the end of which is about 100m in front of me separated by three rows of chain-link, razor-wired fence and a buttress of thick orange scaffolding supporting runway lights. These slender machines soar over my head, jetting off into the turning sky, roaring their ascent to the awakening population beneath them. In a few minutes, I was due to meet a traveller from New York. He had a 6-hour lay over and wanted to walk the perimeter fence of Heathrow, roughly 13 miles or so. The banality of such an undertaking bemused many when I told them I was doing it, particularly as it involved me battling the alarm clock a good 2 hours earlier than I normally do. But it is in the banality that the sublime can shine through; there is beauty in the everyday. Also, I was halfway through marking my third year cohort’s essays on psychogeography, and with their exciting adventures in the quotidian city teeming through my mind, how could I refuse such an invitation?

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INTRODUCING THE MA CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY STUDENTS 2016/7

Poppy Lawrence
I returned to the department this term to study MA Cultural Geography having graduated from reading BA Geography at Royal Holloway earlier this year. My undergraduate dissertation involved contemplating the formation of a possible subculture within religious groups, more specifically looking at young creatives who identify as Christians within urban clusters such as London. I hope to focus my research this year upon the evolving nature of sacred space and community, looking at how this could be perceived as redefining the bodily and affectual experience of sacred space.

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Emily Hopkins

I completed my undergraduate degree in BSc Geography at Royal Holloway, and now I am starting the MA in Cultural Geography as part of my ESRC 1+3 studentship. My general interest is in creative geographies, ranging from visual and artistic methods, to the planning and functioning of cultural regeneration strategies.

Through a focus on creative gentrification within cities, my research aims to understand urban creativity from an audience perspective in smaller scale sites. I will undertake this in order to understand public perceptions on the artistic and cultural investments that are increasingly popular in city regeneration strategy.

Nina Willment

 Following my undergraduate degree at Royal Holloway, I am now studying for the MA as part of the ESRC 1+3 studentship. My general interests are in the geographies of creative workspaces and the work practices of creative labourers. My research aims to investigate the workspaces and careers of DJ’s and MC’s, particularly in the emerging musical genre of grime across the UK.

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Sarah-Jane Pilton

During my three years at Royal Holloway studying for my degree in BA Geography, I discovered my enjoyment for the cultural aspects of the course. I did my undergraduate dissertation on the geographies of women and sport, in relation to performance and the media, which links to my primary research interests of the body, gender and the digital. When it came to thinking about what I was going to do after I graduated I decided that I wasn’t ready to leave the department. I stumbled across the MA Cultural Geography course and after reading through the course content and speaking to lecturers on the course I decided this was the right path for me.

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Sterling Mackinnon III

Cultural Geography at Royal Holloway has provided a unique opportunity to synthesise mybackgrounds in both history and GIS. As an undergraduate at the University of Washington (Seattle, WA) I focused on historical notions of European nationhood and in the years following my graduation gravitated towards GIS, spending last year interning with the U.S. National Park Service as a GIS technician. As a cultural geographer I am fascinated by the entree of geospatial technologies, 3D modelling and printing, and virtual and augmented reality into the heritage sector, particularly with regards to ‘at-risk’ built heritage. I am curious as to how an evolving approach to built heritage preservation and restoration will inform and influence the future construction of narratives of place.

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Publishing Your Phd

With the support of Royal Holloway Departmental Researcher Development funding, this year’s Landscape Surgery programme includes a series of six sessions on ‘Communicating Research’. In the first of these, our meeting of November 1st focused on the theme ‘publishing your PhD’.  Chaired by our new Lecturer in Social and Cultural Geography, Cecilie Sachs Olsen, the discussion was led by two returning ex-surgeons: Amanda Rogers and Justin Spinney.

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Amanda, now Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at Swansea University and a member of the Landscape Surgery group as MA student, PhD student and post-doctoral fellow from 2002-2012, reflected on publishing from her ESRC funded PhD on ‘Geographies of identity and performance in Asian-American theatre’ (completed in 2008). This included journal articles in Cultural Geographies, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Geography Compass and Journal of Intercultural Studies, and a contribution of materials and ideas to her monograph Performing Asian Transnationalisms: Theatre, Identity and the Geographies of Performance (2015, published in Routledge’s Advances in Theatre and Performance Studies series).

Justin, now Lecturer in Human Geography at Cardiff University, discussed publishing from both his Cultural Geography MA dissertation on landscape and the cycling of Mt. Ventoux (completed in 2003) and his ESRC funded PhD on ‘Cycling the city: movement, meaning and practice’ (completed in 2008). These publications include chapters in edited collections on Cycling and Society, Geographies of Rhythm and Mobile Methodologies (co-authored with Katrina Brown), and journal articles in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Urban Design, Geography Compass, Environment and Planning A, Mobilities and Cultural Geographies. Justin confessed that he is still preparing a final piece from his thesis on courier cyclist film making, provisionally intended for Visual Studies.

Reflecting with honesty and generosity on their experiences, Amanda and Justin generated a thoughtful discussion about the many different ways they had ended up writing through their PhD work. Insights included:

  • Have a road map, but make it yours: It helps to develop a publication strategy and plan, and to keep revisiting this during and after the PhD. Don’t assume there is one template for how you should publish, though do take advice on how best to disseminate your work from supervisors, examiners and other mentors. Develop a publication strategy suited to your own materials, audiences and ways of writing and working. Not everyone publishes from their PhD in the same way and that is okay!
  • The journey continues: Whilst pressures to show an ability to publish during the PhD have increased, it’s helpful to think of the PhD as a body of work that can be published from for some time afterwards too, often running alongside other new projects.
  • People matter: The role of people and professional relationships in supporting and directing publication was a recurrent theme. It helps to recognize publishing as a social process, whether that be peers and mentors advising on how a piece reads, PhD examiners and supervisors seeing the potential contributions to be made by one’s research, conference audiences giving you a sense of what they find interesting in your work, conference session organisers soliciting papers for journal special issues, or editors and referees guiding on clarity of purpose, analysis and expression.
  • It’s emotional work: Publishing your research can pose emotional challenges: from nurturing and channeling the confidence of knowing one has something to say to the determination sometimes required in navigating review processes. That emotional work is something everyone has to do; it isn’t just you!
  • Publication is communication, and communication is a two way street: Publishing involves seeing your work as others might see it; understanding how your work intervenes in existing research conversations and agendas; and identifying the best outlets and places to make those interventions and to reach your desired audiences.
  • Engage with audiences but be yourself; as a form of communication, publishing your work means balancing the need to engage with audiences in terms that they can understand and value with the need to maintain what is original and distinctive about it. Practically, this balancing act is often at play when looking to revise publications based on reviewer and editorial comments. Review processes usually provide excellent advice, but often you cannot do everything suggested. Rather than seeing reviewers as judges passing sentence better to think of them as expert readers providing advice that you can weigh up and work with to improve your writing.
  • Less can be more: Particularly journal articles and book chapters often require a tighter focus than a PhD chapter or even a MA dissertation. Justin reflected on how translating his MA dissertation into a journal paper during the first year of his PhD involved focusing it down on to just one of the three main themes his dissertation had been exploring (kinaesthetics). Amanda noted how her ethnographic materials from her PhD require a very different handling when working on articles with typical guide length maximums of 8,000 words.
  • A PhD is not a book, but it may become one: A PhD thesis has different generic requirements than a monograph, but some theses can become books, and others lay the foundations for books later on. A PhD thesis has to demonstrate original materials and ideas that make an original contribution to knowledge. A monograph has to work as a coherent narrative, addressing an identifiable readership in a way that makes commercial sense to a publisher. Comparing theses and the books that emerged from them may be a topic for another landscape surgery session!
  • Communicating more broadly helps with publication: Giving conference papers, organising conference sessions, writing research blog entries on issues that your research engages… all these help to form ideas, see potential contributions, develop social networks. All help with the work of producing publications. Usefully, these many other forms of research communication feature in later Landscape Surgery sessions this year, so we will report more on those as the programme progresses!

 

Finally, as current Landscape Surgeons we extend our sincere thanks to former surgeons Amanda and Justin for giving up their time to come back to (a redecorated!) 11 Bedford Square to talk with us.  It was greatly appreciated.

Katy and Huw

 

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PROGRAMME 2016-17

LS meets on Tues. 2-4:00pm, BSQ room 1-03 (please, note that due to space constraints, attendance to LS is by invitation only)

TERM 1

4 October Catch Up Meeting

18 October Writing Nature                      Amy Cutler & Lucy Mercer

1 November Publishing Your PhD         Justin Spinney (Cardiff) & Amanda Rogers (Swansea)

15 November Performing Urban Archives       Cecilie Sachs-Olsen

29 November The Artificial Cave          Harriet Hawkins & Flora Parrot [1pm start]
TERM 2

10 January  Finding Natural Selection at the Ends of the Earth: the collecting                                             journeys of  Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace     Janet Owen

24 January Curating a Research Exhibition        Phil Hatfield (BL) et al.

7 February Visual Methods and Visual Communication Eric Laurier (Edinburgh)

21 February  Research Blogs and Social Media Stuart Elden & Mark Carrigan (Warwick)

7 March  AAG Dry Run

Outreach Days Alert The Young To The Excitement of Geography

The Faculty of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London regularly undertakes outreach work in order to alert the local community and secondary school students about the opportunities within our subject, most notably through the annual Science Festival.

However, over the past two years, there has been an event which is far less known about, but arguably just as important, and has come about due to fusing the two component parts of my own working week. As well as studying on the MA Cultural Geography course part-time, I also work as a primary school teacher two and a half days a week. I wanted to see if it was possible to arrange a relationship between our Geography department at Royal Holloway, and my own primary school within the Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames.

Several discussions with department outreach officer Dr. Simon Blockley in the Autumn  of 2014 were held in order to decide the viability of the plan, and what a day involving the Year Three class of my school (aged 7-8) would look like. As 2015 dawned, the jigsaw puzzle came together and the red tape cleared, and I boarded a train at Richmond Station  complete with 27 children, three parents and a teaching colleague. Once the class got over the apparent hilarity of the name of the station at which they were disembarking (Egham – they’re only young, after all), they boarded the student bus (where conversation turned to how ‘grown up’ they suddenly felt). The initial high point for one and all was the first view of Founders Building. The children knew that I went to university on the days I was not with them, but they didn’t realise that university looked like this…

Upon arriving at the Queen’s Building, Simon Blockley had arranged to give the children a tour of the labs which involved meeting the incomparable Pierre who gave them the opportunity to examine incredible bones, skeletons and other objects which remained topics of constant conversation over the following months at school. One of the integral parts of the day for me (as a student of Geography and a teacher of children) was that the class should be able to spend an hour in a seminar room actually doing some Geography – so that they would get a taste of actually learning the subject at University. I devised a lesson relating to our class topic of Rivers, and with access to some of the department’s OS Maps, the children set about producing colour coded maps of land use around the River Thames in groups. By the end of our session we had produced maps which could then be joined together back at school to produce a huge display of the land use of the Thames from source to sea – it was an epic piece of work which was a major talking point for all who would see it in school over the coming weeks.

Packed lunch in the quadrangle of Founders followed, before we returned back to school. The value of this trip was absolutely immense – the parents made a point of thanking us for arranging this particular visit (something that had never happened before) and some seven months later when the children were composing their review of the year which would go in their end of year school reports, over three quarters of the children mentioned the ‘Royal Holloway Geography Trip’ as the best thing they had done in Year Three. They also referred to wanting to learn Geography at university in ten years time – but only if they could learn it at Royal Holloway!

When I discovered that I would remain in Year Three the following year (2015/16 academic year), I immediately wanted to see if we could reprise the day – and the Geography department were more than happy to oblige. In April 2016, my new batch of 26 seven and eight year olds made the journey to Royal Holloway. Initially they were keen if only “to see what you get up to when you’re not with us”. This time, the taught session focus that I delivered centred around the importance of the River Nile to Ancient Egyptians, and we covered areas such as flood defences, dams and land use once more. Pierre and Simon’s tour of the labs was another high point, and once more, the trip featured prominently in the children’s End of Year School Reports. Another year for me in Year Three in 2016/17 will provide hopes that I can expose a third group of children to the importance of Geography and give them the aspiration to love the subject and want to attend university when they become eighteen years-old – hopefully as Geographers!

Ben Gilby,

MA Cultural Geography (Part-Time)

 

SoCo Artists: Showcase

SoCo Artists: Showcase

This is news of an exhibition which might be of interest to people interested in dialogues between visual art and geography, place and space.

I am an artist-member of Landscape Surgery, with a practice based in drawing. I’m also a member of ‘SoCo’, or South Coast Artists, a professional Hastings-based group. The society has produced a ‘Showcase’ exhibition of selected members’ work in which I am happy to be included – see here for details.

For some time now one strand of my work has been the visual exploration of ideas of self and community through the metaphor of dwelling, thinking of walls, windows, doors, passages, stairs, as built suggestions of mental barriers, mental openings, flights, traps, spaces which connect and those which separate. In this work I’m using a variety of materials such as earth, wax, silk and paper to investigate how such materialities inflect meaning in unexpected ways.

If anyone can get to the show that would be great! However, I’ll also be showing related work in London later in the year in Chelsea and Westminster Reference Library and in The Stone Space, Leyton. More news on those exhibitions nearer the time.

Helen Scalway