Monthly Archives: March 2013

RHUL Geography does the AAG: LA 9-13th April 2013

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A number of us are LA bound this easter for the Association of American Geographers Annual Conference. The full programme can be found here but for a summary of the 26 different sessions RHUL Geographers are involved in please see the list below, it makes for interesting reading and showcases the diversity of great work going on across the Department.
More soon…


P.S. If I have left your session out, apologies, please email me and I will edit it in.

Pete Adey,
Session: Aviation Geography, discussant, Sat 13/4, 2-3.40
Session: On Peter Sloterdijk: Geography, Spheres and Beyond, panelist, Wed, 10/4 8-9.40

Gracia Brightwell,
Session: Unpacking “ethical” markets III: What makes an ethical Market, presenter Sat, 4/13 2-3.40
Paper title: Ethical Consumers in the Global South: The Case of Chile and Brazil

Tim Cresswell,
Session: Cultural Geographies Annual Lecture, organiser, Fri, 12/4 12.40-2.20

Rupert Griffiths,
Session: Contest/ed Scenes and Spaces: Exposing Cultural Infrastructures 2, presenter, sat 4/13, 2.00-3.40.
Paper: Reimagining the Margins- the work of photographer Stephen Gill

Harriet Hawkins
Session: The Arts of Transformation: Shaping Subjects, Making Places, organiser, Fri, 12/4 8-9.40
Session: Curating the Cosmos, presenter, thur, 11/4, 8-9.40
Paper: Curating Earth-Encounters

Anja Kanngieser,
Session: The Subconference, panelist, tuesday, 9/4, 12.40- 2.20,
Session: Geographies of Hope Symposium 4: Hopeful Political Economies II, presenter, wed, 10/4 4.40-6.20
Paper: Creating radical political economies through communicating differently

Dorothea J Kleine,
Session: Geographies of Media XI: Media Technologies, presenter, Sat, 13/4/13, 2-3.40
Paper: Technologies, capabilities, and collective choice – Exploring sustainable state e-procurement

Weiqiang Lin,
Session: Asia On the Move 1: Migration, Strategies and Regulatory Regimes, organiser, wed, 10/4 8-9.40
Session: Asia On the Move 2: Transportation, Cultural Change and Diffusions, organiser, wed, 10/4 10-11.40
Session: Mobilities, Frictions and Reterritorialisations, organiser, tuesday, 9/4, 12.40- 2.20

Danny McNally
Session: Geographies of Encounter 2: Youth Trajectories, Communities and Artistic Practices, presenter, thursday 11/4 10-11.40
Paper: Encountering Relational Art

Oli Mould,
Session: Researching the Creative Economy: Emerging Questions and Approaches, panelist, wed, 10/4, 12.40-2.20
Session: Global City Challenges: Debating a Concept, Improving the Practice, discussant, Thu, 11/4, 4.40- 6.20,
Session: Contest/ed Scenes and Spaces: Exposing Cultural Infrastructures 3: presenter, sat, 13/4, 4-5pm,
Paper: Urban Subversions within beta-cultural spaces?

Rory Rowan,
Session, Re-evaluting the Anthropocene: Resituating “Anthropos”, discussant, fri, 12/4 12.40-2.20
Session: Violence and Space V: Urbanities and Geopolitics, presenter, thu, 11/4, 12.40-2.20
Paper: Carl Schmitt’s Planetary Space: Spaceless Violence and Eschatological Geopolitics

David Simon,
Session: Development Geography: Can critical perspectives exist in policy and implementation 1? Organiser, wed, 10/4, 8-9.40
Session: Development Geography: Can critical perspectives exist in policy and implementation 2? organiser, wed, 10/4 10.00-11.40
Session: Learning from Cities: Urban adaption responses to climate change and ways forward, panelist, fri, 12/4, 4.40- 6.20
Session: Antecedent and Aftermouth of Genocide: Tales of Human Calamity and Survival, organiser, presenter, fri, 4/12, 8-9.40.
Paper: “Healing the World:” From the Holocaust to Development

Shaun Smith
Session: Urban Policy and Planning – Sat, 4/13, from 4:00 PM – 5:40 PM
Paper: Ideologies and power in the course of evictions

Priya Vadi,
Session: Edible Spaces: Culinary Geography in the Built Environment, presenter, Sat 13/4, 8.00-9.40
Paper: Eating Identities: Diasporic Iranian Identity Practices in Restaurants and Food Shops in London and Vancouver

Cristiana Zara,
Session: Tourist Geography I, presenter, wed, 10/4, 8-9.40
Paper: Reframing Landscape: Hindu Practices of Vision and the Construction of a “spiritual’ tourist gaze

Xuejuan Zhang
Session: Memory and City, presenter, Sat, 13/4, 4-5pm,
Paper: Dimensions of Tragic Heritage Narration: Heritage, Identity and Sense of Place in Sichuan Province after the 12th May 2008 Earthquake in China

An update on plans for the summer exhibition ‘Time, the deer, is in the wood of Hallaig’ (London, June 2013), affiliated to Landscape Surgery and the department.

Write off the map

There is now a Kickstarter page here for the forthcoming exhibition I’m curating, ‘Time, the deer, is in the wood of Hallaig’, as I’m asking for donations to help with costs around postage, installation, and display. The text and images follow below for those interested: there are also some sneak peeks of the belfry space and some of the items. The exhibition itself will be free and there’s lots of rewards for anyone who contributes at this stage, so please do contribute or share the Kickstarter link if possible with friends and colleagues (and watch this space for information on the private view, 6th June 2013!)

In June 2013 I will be putting on a free public exhibition called Time, the deer, is in the wood of Hallaig, a line by Scottish poet Sorley Maclean. It will be on the topic of forests, history, and memory, and will range between natural…

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Buns in the Oven, Bodies in Space…

Last Tuesday, Landscape Surgery got personal and political and raised the issue of gender – seldom a hot topic in our research group, to the wonder of many a female surgeon, present and past.

The session entitled “Buns in the Oven, Bodies in Space: Women, Materials, Politics” was an opportunity to weave together Laura Price’s research on knitting, women, and the body, with Mia Hunt’s recent investigations into the politics of pregnant and maternal bodies and her embodied experience as an expectant mother.


Mia discussed how pregnancy brings the body back into view and stirs public anxiety about our societal need to control our bodily matter.  As Laura explained, knitting too can be perceived as “matter out of place” and, while it can make the body less threatening, it also runs a similar risk of unravelling.

Knitting during pregnancy can be seen as a reaction to the anxiety surrounding separation of mother and foetus, but also a way to protect the baby once in the world.  The knitted hat, for example, protects the baby’s head, which is still being “knitted together” post-birth (Pajaczkowska 2007).  The conceptualisation of this separation, and the visualisation of the unborn baby, has had implications not only for knitting.  Politically it has resulted in the idea of the “foetal citizen” and the social surveillance and governance of the mother – making even strangers feel vindicated in judging a pregnant woman’s body, behaviour, dress, and consumption practices. (See Deborah Lupton’s blog for further discussion.)


We explored a number of reasons why the UK’s rates of breastfeeding are among the worst in the industrialised West.  In relation to public space, we discussed the continued prudishness around public breastfeeding, as highlighted in recent literature, personal anecdotes, the increase of quarantining breastfeeding rooms, and a video showing more than 170 “lactivists” breastfeeding in Paddington Station in 2011.  Not only “lactivists”, but “craftivists” too have attacked the sexualisation of women’s breasts in the media, citing it as a contributing factor to public anxiety around seeing a non-sexualised breast.  For example, crafted banners have railed against The Sun’s “Page 3 Girl”, and “boob caps” play with the perceived need for discretion.

Prudishness and micro-practices of public shaming have positioned breastfeeding as “out of place” and contributed to the shrinking life-worlds for many women.  For us, this provokes questions about the right to the city and gender inequity.  Breastfeeding in public makes women’s work visible.  As the work by many craftspeople and artists illustrates, care-work in the home is often invisible and deemed non-work through its spatiality and politics of love and care.

In the second half of our session, we discussed the issues of work/life balance in academia and a paper provocatively subtitled: “How many papers is a baby ‘worth’?” (Klocker & Drozdzewski 2012).  Although this is an issue for all, there are particular implications for early-career women academics: the most important time for academic productivity coincides with a dramatic decline in our fertility.  As we try to “have it all”, the statistics on mothers’ challenges in academia are as disheartening as public breastfeeding rates, and cannot speak to the potential detriments to the children involved.

As a number of people highlighted, although we try to keep the body quiet and keep our care-work away from our academic lives, life and work are constantly smashing into each other.  These are issues that institutions have been slow to take into account.  That said, during discussion, Katherine Brickell noted that some headway is being made, citing the Women and Geography Study Group’s successful lobby for crèche facilities at the RGS-IBG annual conference. (See the current issue of Area for a debate on the future of the WGSG.)

Responses to our presentation were lively and varied.  While some in attendance were incredulous that issues of public breast feeding still posed a challenge for women – or were still worth discussing – for many others, the stories, videos, crafts, and literature we presented seemed to highlight that women’s issues still demand attention, both in our research and in our institutions.  Indeed, we don’t have to look very far to see that gender imbalances are still present within Geography’s hierarchies.


Laura Price and Mia Hunt are PhD candidates in Cultural Geography.  Their research blogs can be found at and

Click here to download the session’s supplemental reading list.



Brickell, K. & K. Browne (eds.) (2013). Special section: Gender or women? Debating the future of the Women and Geography Study Group. Area, 45(1): 2 -15.

Klocker, N. & D. Drozdzewski (2012). Career progress relative to opportunity: How many papers is a baby ‘worth’? Environment and Planning A, 44(6): 1271-1277.

Pajackowska, C. (2007). Thread of attachment. Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture, 5(2) 140 -152.

Amy Cutler (Ph.D. candidate) is calling for submissions for an exhibition she is curating this summer related to her research into environmental history and forests.

Write off the map

Call for submissions


I am putting together a small London exhibition in early June called ‘Time, the deer, is in the wood of Hallaig‘ (a line by the Scottish poet Sorley Maclean), in the belfry at St John on Bethnal Green. It will include specimens on loan from the Kew Museum of Economic Botany and historical photographs from the Forest Memories database and from local archivists and historians: but it will also include book works, installations, and texts. Combining the fields of social history, natural history, and art – as well as evidence of the technologies of dendrochronology itself – this exhibition will analyse ideas of past and memory through forests, whether concerning antediluvian forests, submerged forests, genealogical trees, timber rings, veteran trees, plantation or old growth woodland, natural archives, wood collections, or books and prints. Please do get in touch with details of any submissions at my email…

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Between art and information: thinking about museums and photographs

by Caroline Cornish

A wet Saturday in Leicester may not be everyone’s ideal start to the weekend, but for the group of museum and photography historians who met on March 2nd at De Montfort University it was a great chance to meet fellow researchers, curators, and academics, and hear about photographic collections held by museums. The event was the one-day conference ‘Between Art and Information: Collecting Photographs’ organised jointly by the Museums and Galleries History Group (MGHG) and De Montfort’s Photographic History Research Centre (PHRC). Both parties were well-represented at the conference, including Head of the PHRC Professor Elizabeth Edwards, whose work will be familiar to many, and Kelley Wilder, whose book – Photography and Science – is an excellent introduction to the subject. A group of us with historical inclinations from Royal Holloway’s Social and Cultural Geography Research Group have been reading another title in the same series – Photography and Anthropology by Christopher Pinney – for our reading group which next meets on March 25.

As the conference literature pointed out, museums have been collecting photographs since the 1850s but their significance is often unrecognized. It’s a view I’ve come to share through looking at the way photographs functioned at Kew’s Museum of Economic Botany. The Museum began collecting photographs for display in 1858, but the oldest image still in the collection is this one of olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane, donated by James Graham in 1864.

‘Olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane’ by James Graham (accessioned 1864) ©RBGK

‘Olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane’ by James Graham (accessioned 1864) ©RBGK

Before the conference I knew nothing about Graham, not even his first name, but as occasionally happens at conferences, a fellow delegate was able to tell me more about him. Graham (1806–1869) was a Scottish photographer who took some of the earliest images of the Holy Land, where he was sent as lay secretary for the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews. Graham’s image and other donations received throughout the 1860s came from private individuals, ‘genteel amateurs’ who were equally interested in travel and botany. Early amateur photographers were as likely to have been members of the Linnean Society as they were of the Royal Photographic Society and moved – both socially and intellectually – with ease between the two.

By the late 1860s, the camera had become an apparatus of colonial survey, and donations to the Museum reflect this. And as an extension of this trend, photographs became widely used by colonial governments in an attempt to attract immigrants and investment. Kew obtained prints of many of these. Such photographs depicted the resources of the colonies and presented them as modern and progressive, and in using photographs in its displays, the Kew Museum was similarly presenting economic botany as modern and progressive. And no photographs spoke more of scientific modernity than the photomicrographs which the Museum began to collect from 1872.

'Magnified grains of starch from Canna indica’ donated by Edward Kinch in 1888 ©RBGK

‘Magnified grains of starch from Canna indica’ donated by Edward Kinch in 1888 ©RBGK

Unusually for the Kew Museum, photographs were one of the few types of object which were regularly purchased, as opposed to being donated or exchanged, and this indicates the value placed on them by the Museum. The collection reflects the work of a range of 19th and early 20th century professional photographers, including this one by Eadweard Muybridge of the harvesting of cochineal beetles from the Opuntia cactus in Antigua.

‘The mode of gathering cochineal in Antigua’ by Eadweard Muybridge (purchased 1876) ©RBGK

‘The mode of gathering cochineal in Antigua’ by Eadweard Muybridge (purchased 1876) ©RBGK

Photographs were deployed at the Museum of Economic Botany to show plants in their biogeographical context and to demonstrate the processes involved in turning plants into raw materials or finished goods. This one was part of a series of twelve displayed in the Museum to illustrate the method by which the Indigofera tinctoria plant was transformed into tablets of blue indigo dye, and was taken by Oscar Malitte, a French photographer working in Calcutta in the nineteenth century. Of course, such photographs functioned at other levels too. Images like this told of the human and material resources of the Empire, and, to borrow the words of Halford Mackinder, of the ‘super-added characteristics due to British rule’. They are indicative of the rhetoric of ‘improvement’ which continued to provide the rationale for colonisation in nineteenth-century Britain.

‘Beating – old style’ by Oscar Malitte, accessioned 1900 ©RBGK

‘Beating – old style’ by Oscar Malitte, accessioned 1900 ©RBGK

All photographic images are reproduced with the kind permission of the Director and the Board of Trustees, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBGK).