Before starting my PhD, I completed the Local Government Association’s graduate scheme, the NGDP, which consisted of four placements in a host local authority. Prior to this, I worked in Westminster as a researcher for Members of Parliament. In terms of my academic background, I hold a BA in Middle Eastern Studies from SOAS, University of London and an MPhil in International Relations and Politics from the University of Cambridge. I have also completed a Diploma in Leadership and Management. My current PhD title is “‘Wild things in wild places’: British cultures of extreme exploration, 1851–1913.” My project, funded by the TECHNE DTP, focuses on British exploration cultures in the 19th and early 20th centuries and their relationship to questions of authority, bodies, science, culture, and identity. I am interested in understanding travel as a process of re-embodiment and in the bodily experience of travel to the variously intangible, inhospitable, and inaccessible environments of ice, mountains, and deserts. I am supervised by Innes M. Keighren and Klaus Dodds. Outside of academia, my hobbies include cooking, jam making, and cycling.
Before joining the Royal Holloway family I studied at the University of Southampton, graduating in 2013 with a BA in human geography. With a brief interlude for various jobs and travel excursions it wasn’t until 2015 when I returned to academia, enrolling in the MA Cultural Geography course at Royal Holloway. It was during this time, and with great help from the Geography Department, that I managed to secure a PhD with funding by the ESRC. The PhD (supervised by Dr. Oli Mould and Prof. David Gilbert) is titled ‘Excavating the contemporary urban geographies of Robin Hood Gardens, London’. It aims to explore the social and cultural urban geographies of the Robin Hood Gardens housing estate in East London. It will specifically focus on how the present-day site, and its on-going political contestation, is continually ‘produced’ by historical and layered assemblages of materiality, culture and urban politics. In terms of my wider research foci I am particularly interested in the geographies of home, geographies of architecture and concepts of liminality. With a particular fascination with how individuals create and navigate the spaces in which they live as well as how intimate and ‘everyday’ architectural spaces are linked to a wider urban politics. Looking beyond my academic interests, I fill my time with manufacturing unhealthy baked goods and consuming large amounts of dystopian science fiction.
A paper world: the collection & investigation of plant materials for paper making.
Paper is a resource that is all around us. Used for communication, packaging, display, commerce and art, it is arguably the bedrock of civilisation. With a global and ancient history that could span a multiple volume publication, this project will look at a particular period of innovation – in the middle of the nineteenth century – when inventors, botanists and industrialists were driven to find an answer to the shortages they were facing. Limited in production due to a reliance on linen and cotton rags as the base material for paper, growing empire, bureaucracies and industry dictated that demand outstripped supply. Inventors turned to nature as inspiration, and building on the works of experiment in the eighteenth century they looked to new plant fibres to provide the mass of entwined cellulose that paper is made from. Sitting at the intersections of historical geography, history of design, and the history of science and technology, this thesis aims to unite both the cultural and economic factors that shape the history of paper in the nineteenth century. This project will take an expressly material approach, using objects as its base for exploration. The heart of the project therefore is the unrivalled paper collections of the Economic Botany Collection at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. These objects will be the engine for further discoveries raising wider questions concerning the formation of knowledge about raw materials, technologies and commodities.
Tat-In (Dennis) Tam
I am a PhD student in human geography. Prior to being a member of Royal Holloway, I worked as a high school geography teacher and served in the local geography society of Macau. I was responsible for geography education affairs and the International Geographic Olympiad for many years. I obtained my bachelor and master degree in Taiwan and Mainland China respectively. My research is focusing on the flows of migration among Macau and its neighbouring regions both on intra-national and international scale. My PhD is titled ‘The Identity, Social Space and Mobility of Ethnic Minorities in Macau’. Within my research, I attempt to uncover the social integration process, the driving factors and the possible influences of the migration which occurs within Macau from Southeast Asian ethnic minority groups within the last two decades. My research will mainly be supervised by Professor Katie Willis. As a geographer, I love visiting different places. To me, I feel the most interesting way to discover a city is by encountering the city’s social context under the connection with local community in an unintentional way such as by wandering in the city’s streets and lanes.
The project is entitled ‘Collecting Leviathan: curiosity, exchange and the Southern Whale Fleet (1775-1860)’ and is supervised by Professor Felix Driver and is funded by AHRC TECHNE. The project will investigate the collecting of Pacific material culture on whaling voyages associated with the Southern Whale Fishery during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It also considers the circulation of artefacts through networks emanating from the docksides of British ports, through auction houses, curiosity shops, gentlemen’s clubs, private collections and ultimately into the ethnographic collections of major museums. The Pacific fleet was active between 1775-1860 and for part of this period was the largest whaling fleet in the world outstripping even that of the North-East Coast of America. Whaling logs, private journals, correspondence and museum collections indicate that during these island layovers, whalers interacted in various ways with local inhabitants, acquiring indigenous artefacts and other objects retained for personal interest or later sale as ‘curiosities’.On returning home, the sailors sold their curios to interested buyers. The docksides of London and other major ports became cultural contact zones due not only to the mixing of ethnically diverse ship’s crews, but also because of this trade in exotic material culture. These artefacts then moved in myriad ways – for example through informal exchange, commercial networks, family inheritance or formal donation – into personal and public museum collections. By analyzing these moments of exchange and encounter through whaling logs, journals, auction house records and public and private correspondence I propose to build an understanding of the networks of exchange spreading out from the London dockside and thereby to enhance our knowledge and understanding of early British collecting practices and the making of ethnographic collections.
I previously studied BSc & MSc (Research) in herbal medicine at the University of Westminster. I have been writing & editing popular books on herbal remedies and teaching workshops on plant identification, folklore and remedy making. I love being outside and see the hedgerows as libraries of knowledge, there is so much to know, see, taste and do with plants and I love to share that with people. I currently live on and off a narrowboat where I take foraging trips and workshops throughout the summer.My interest in plants and plant history led me to work with the Economic Botany Collection at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew where my previous research (for MSc dissertation) looked into the development of Eucalyptus as a medicine in the 19th Century. I am now be undertaking my PhD project on another medicinal part of the collection. The Title of my PHD is ‘Biocultural collections and networks of knowledge exchange in the 19th century: the quest for quinine’. Based on the large cinchona collections within the Economic Botany Collection at Kew, this collections based research will trace the networks of exchange, circulation of specimens and key players in this story, shedding light upon the development of this important anti-malarial. A collaboration with Royal Holloway,. I am supervised by Felix Driver (RHUL) and Mark Nesbitt (RBG, Kew).
Shared Sacred Space in the Byzantine Mediterranean. Byzantium and the Latin West.
Hi I’m Nina. Before completing my PhD, I completed the BA Geography and MA Cultural Geography courses at Royal Holloway. The current title of my PhD is ‘Geographies of the creative workplace: the case of British travel bloggers’ and I am supervised by Philip Crang and David Gilbert. My research seeks to advance understanding of contemporary work cultures within the creative economy through an empirical case study of British travel bloggers. My project’s primary interest is in the working lives and workplaces of these travel bloggers but it will also aim to contribute to research literature on the wider politics and economics of creative labour and the geographies of travel writing. As a result, my research will pay particular attention to: travel blogger’s constructions of their creative careers; the aesthetic, affective, curatorial and aspirational components of their work; and their varied workspaces. It also aims investigate how travel bloggers’ navigate the insecure political economy of their industry. I’m the events manager for the Royal Geographical Society Postgraduate Forum and venues manager for Passengerfilms. Outside of my PhD, my favourite thing to do is to travel the world. I also enjoy upcycling furniture, drinking wine and anything to do with dachshunds.