Monthly Archives: December 2012

Landscape Surgery 2013 programme: A sneak peak…

Coming to Landscape Surgery in 2013…

Comforting Geographies with Laura Price from Knitted Geographies and Danny McNally from Leeds Art Map,  Geographies of Disaster with Stephanie Morrice and Xuejuan Zhang, plus an important discussion of the centenary of Women being admitted to the Royal Geographical Society. This will be linked to another session that offers a wider exploration of bodies, space, matter and politics, with the fascinating title “Buns in the Oven, Bodies in Space: Women, Materials, Politics”, led by Mia Hunt of Keeping Shop, Shaping Place and Laura Price.

Jeff Garmany will join us in March to share his latest paper. Jeff, currently a lecturer at Kings’ Brazil Institute, is a Geography graduate of the University of Arizona, where he worked on governance and social order in Brazilian urban slums, more info can be found here.

Plus there will be more “helpful” sessions on conferences, networking and social media, days of culture and, of course the summer first year PhD symposium.

Watch this space…

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Landscape Surgery, 13 November 2012: Urban Subversions

Last month, Royal Holloway Lecturer Dr Oli Mould joined by Dr Maria Daskalaki, visiting from Kingston University, discussed ‘Urban Subversions’ at Landscape Surgery. Oli and Maria framed the discussion on their forthcoming paper ‘Beyond Urban Subcultures: Urban Subversions as Rhizomic Social Formations’. The paper discussed the fluidity, flux and connectedness of ‘urban social formations’ and the potential for collaborative practices and transformation in the city. The paper explored the possibilities of urban exploration, parkour, yarn bombing and urban pranks. Surgeons engaged with the arguments of the paper and this informed a wider discussion on ‘urban subversions’. Conversation and questions ranged from ‘how to study urban subversion’, the different ‘sensory experience’ that various forms of urban subversion provide and the ‘politics’ of doing urban subversion in relation to taking part (doing) and being in the audience (watching). Those in attendance later continued the discussion over habitual drinks at the College Arms, Store Street (which itself was subject to yarnbombing action in October as part of Bloomsbury Festival: see photo below)

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Cultural Geographers at the White Cube

Outside the White Cube, Bermondsey

Outside the White Cube, Bermondsey

On Friday, 7 December a group of MA Cultural Geographers, together with Creative Writers, PhD students and staff gathered at the White Cube Gallery in Bermondsey to visit the recently opened Antony Gormley Exhibition “Model”.

Thinking about questions of the body, affect, architecture and space the group examined the exhibition’s collection of working models from Gormley’s past and present work, as well as new and recently made sculptural works installed in the gallery’s central corridor.

The centre piece of the exhibition was the huge room-size installation “Model.” “Model,” rendered in 100 tonnes of weathered sheet-steel developed Gormley’s long running exploration of the human body and space in the form of an installation the audience can enter. Described as part sculpture-part building we entered ‘Model” through a ‘foot,’ walking and crawling through the interlinked spaces and feeling our way through the darkened chambers. Whilst many of us explored the space by way of feeling its edges or stepping blindly into the dark and hoping for the best, Giles extended his bodily capacities by using his umbrella as a prosthesis (!). Extending it up and to the side he felt for ceiling and walls, and used it to create vibrations and knocking against the walls, explored the spaces as echo chambers, using sound as a means to determine dimensions that could not be seen in the dark.

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After the exhibition, the group went for lunch, and then wandered along the embankment.

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Cultural Geographers at large in London

Geographers at the Shard

Geographers at the Shard

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M.A. Cultural Geographers at the Royal Geographical Society

M.A. Cultural Geography students at the RGS

M.A. Cultural Geography students at the Royal Geographical Soceity

On 6 December, students from the M.A. Cultural Geography programme visited the Royal Geographical Society to explore its archival collections. The day began with presentations from two of the Society’s current Collaborative Doctoral Award holders—Sarah Evans (University of the West of England) and Emily Hayes (University of Exeter)—who spoke wonderfully on their experiences of archival research and working with primary and secondary material at the RGS.

The group was given a behind-the-scenes tour of the special collection and artefact climate-controlled storeroom—seeing, among other treasures, an 1482 Ulm edition of Ptolemy’s Cosmographia (once owned by William Morris), Henry Morton Stanley’s boots, and bags of food recovered from the tent in which Robert Falcon Scott died.

The students were working with a collection of material relating to the permanent admission of women Fellows to the Society in 1913. Here follows their report (errors and omissions expected):

The number of members of the Royal Geographical Society in 1892-3 was 166: “144 male Fellows, 22 Ladies”. There were 3 key dates in this period that laid the foundations for this change. On 28 November 1892, Admiral Inglefield proposed the motion that it was impossible to exclude all women from the RGS as it would be against the Charter on which the Society was based. February 1893 was another key date in the process, as it saw Admiral Cave convert from being opposed to being in favour of admitting women, based on the recommendations of Inglefield. On 24 April 1893, a Special General Meeting was held to discuss the limited proposals put forward by Inglefield and backed by Webster and Sutton. The conclusion of this meeting was that women were to be admitted as Honorary Fellows, restricted to duties of membership rather than duties of office.

Legal advice sought from Stuart Moore QC and Richard Webster QC in April 1893 concluded “Neither the Fellows in the General Meeting nor the Council have any power to elect ladies as Fellows or making regulations for such elections”. In response to this, Douglas Freshfield wrote “We lead it shall be lawful for the Fellows of the said body politic and corporate to meet amongst other things for the admission of Fellows and the honorary and foreign members”.

This decision to admit 15 women Fellows, and then another 7 two weeks later was met with consternation by several male Fellows of the RGS, including Fred Pollock, Mr Webster and Leopold M’Clintock. M’Clintock said, in an address to the president of the council, “I think that although the admission of ladies might make the society more or less enjoyable and pleasant, I do not think it would intensify the geographical character of it”. Their objection was grounded in the fact that the Charter referred explicitly to men and thus electing women was a change which needed to be ratified in a General Meeting.

As the twentieth century progressed, the Society received an increasing number of requests to allow women to become Fellows. Women such as Charlotte Raffalovich, author of ‘Via Rhodesia’ were keen to stress they were “sincere traveller[s] and not merely pleasure loving tourist[s]”. She expressed her “grief and indignation” in 1911 that she was not allowed to join. Around 1912, there was also the issue of the Society moving to new premises in South Kensington, which made increased accommodation available, and forced the President of the Society to propose a motion to allow female Fellows at a General Meeting. After months of discussion, a referendum was held, in which 2088 Fellows voted to allow female Fellows, while only 675 voted against it, finally making ladies eligible to become Fellows. March 2013 will mark the centenary of this important vote.

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Hugh Crosfield (Ph.D. candidate) on the ‘home front’ and politics of consumer boycott campaigns.

Chomping at the Bloodied Bit

During a recent BBC radio four program that hosted Rob Harrison, the editor of the ethical consumer magazine, I was left feeling a little frustrated as people phoned in to talk about  consumer boycotts (Call You and Yours – 21st November). The host, Julian Worricker, did a fine job in covering plenty of ground in the time allocated. However, there seemed to be a skepticism over what consumer boycotts could actually achieve. This became particularly apparent when Worricker suggested that it might be impossible to know if anti-apartheid boycotts achieved tangible success. Admittedly the show was tailored to fit the consumer topic de rigueure* (boycott action and divestment over tax evasion, by the likes of Google, Amazon and Starbucks), but I felt that a little bit of history would have gone a long way. Sarah Emily Duff, a South African historian,  does an innovative job summarizing some of this history on her website…

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