Category Archives: Landscape Surgery

Author Meets Critics (Without the Author): Violence, Mourning and Politics

judith_butler_ap_img_0Judith Butler – Courtesy of Google Images

In the first landscape surgery session of ‘Author Meets Critics (Without the Author)’, we discuss a chapter from Judith Butler’s book Precarious Life (2004). The chapter in question, ‘Violence, Mourning and Politics’ (pp.19-50), was selected as many surgeons felt it had continuing relevance in both their own academic work and with recent political events concerning global conflicts and disasters such as the Grenfell Tower fire.

The session is led by Oli Mould (Lecturer in Human Geography, RHUL Geography) and Miriam Burke (ESRC PhD, RHUL Geography) who begins with a summary, drawing out many of the key themes from the chapter. Starting with notions of ‘grief’, Oli discusses how Butler questions what it means to grieve.  In particular, the idea that we define who we are as humans through what makes a ‘grievable’ life. This questions who ‘we’ are in the collective sense as through the act of grieving we come to realise that we are inherently connected to others, both human and non-human. There is a realisation that there is a ‘you’ in the collective notion of ‘we’ and that part of us is lost when we grieve for others. This notion is aptly summarised by Butler, as she highlights how we are undone by each other’ (pp.23).

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Decolonising geographical knowledges or reproducing coloniality?

23666740_10155225931903693_505717603_nImage of Huw and Joy. Photography by Nina Willment

Geography: “a discipline that may not be ready to, or even capable of, responding to the challenge of decolonisation,” (Esson et al., 2017: 384).

Huw Rowlands (AHRC PhD, RHUL Geography) and Joy Slappnig (CDA PhD, RHUL Geography in collaboration with the RGS-IBG) expertly led Landscape Surgery this week, in a “Contemporary Debates in Human Geography” session concerning “decolonizing geographical knowledges” – a topic that not only formed the locus of important discussions at the recent RGS-IBG conference, but also inspired a forum in Transactions. Together we sought to ultimately explore and unpack the question: decolonising geographical knowledge or reproducing coloniality? To begin exploration of this challenging but salient topic, Huw and Joy posed three key reflective questions:

-What is geographical knowledge? How is it perpetuated? Why should we address it?

After a few moments of personal reflection, we were asked to document our initial reactions to these questions on post-it-notes, which we then used to populate flip-charts posting these questions around the room.

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Analogic Spaces, Caves and the Ends of the Earth – Flora Parrott, Rachel Squire and Pete Adey

IMG_3507Photography: Ed Brookes

This week’s landscape surgery explored the world of analogic and subterranean geographies. Hosted by Flora Parrott (TECHNE PhD, RHUL Geography), Rachel Squire (Lecturer in Human Geography at RHUL) and Pete Adey (Professor of Geography RHUL). Split into two parts; Flora presented her work on caves, followed by Rachel and Pete and their research into the subterranean realms of analogic spaces.

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Visiting Academic Interview – Martin Thomas

Our Surgeries have been greatly enriched by our occasional academic visitors. Those that I have had the opportunity to meet have been fascinating people, and yet few of us get the chance to chat to them much. So it occurred to Katy and I that it would be a good idea to interview them for this blog while they’re here. We have developed ten questions and our first volunteer is Martin Thomas from Australian National University – many thanks Martin!

Surgeons and readers may remember that in May, Martin, with Béatrice Bijon, shared Etched in Bone, their documentary film, a work in progress, with us; you can read more about that here.

So, on to our first interview, which I’m sure you’ll find very engaging. Continue reading

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Writing for the broader public: why we write + how to do it

On Tuesday 16th May, the ‘Surgeons’ were lucky enough to be joined by Emily Brown from the editorial team of The Conversation, Fraser Macdonald from the University of Edinburgh, and our very own Oli Mould and Sasha Engelmann. The session focussed on the question of how to write for the broader public, and lead to lively conversations on why we might want to get published outside of conventional ‘academic’ outlets and how it can be done.

Fraser kicking off the session: “we often leave unexamined the emotional investments of writing”

I begin with a bullet point list of tips – because if you’re reading this Continue reading

Speculation and Meaning in the 1980s Swedish Arts World: The Making, Display and Dispersal of the Financier Fredrik Roos’ Art Collection: Jenny Sjöholm

Landscape Surgery’s summer term programme started on 2nd May with a round of news about the varied and fascinating things that Surgeons have been up to over the past few weeks. These involved suitcases, corridors, conferences, placements, submissions, and a fellowship. The one I will give a specific mention to is Ben Murphy’s show at the Architectural Association’s School of Architecture until 27th May, to give you all a chance to see it in the next couple of weeks or so. It sounded like Ben gained some rich experience about dealing with press interviews along the way.

For the main part of afternoon, Jenny Sjöholm, Marie-Sklodowska Curie Fellow with the Department, introduced us to an art collection created by Frederick Roos. This collection was remarkable in many ways as we shall see; but Jenny’s particularly fascinating work has been to trace the collection over its life. This is not an object biography but a collection biography if you will. Continue reading

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Introducing the editors…

Photography: Adam Badger

The blog’s current editors are Katy and Huw, both first year PhD students and members of the Social, Cultural and Historical Geography Research Group at Royal Holloway University of London. We are delighted to take over this role to continue the exciting dialogue generated in this research group, which happens at our bi-weekly ‘Landscape Surgery’ meetings, as well as in publication, through public events and academic conferences, interdisciplinary workshops and dialogue with other institutions. We always welcome content from the ‘surgeons’ on their topical research interests, upcoming events, general PhD, post-doc and career advice; and all things Geography (and beyond!) We also welcome guest posts, so if you have anything you’d like to submit, please get in contact with us at huw.rowlands.2014@live.rhul.ac.uk or katy.lawn.2015@live.rhul.ac.uk.

Katy is a first year ESRC-funded PhD student whose work focuses on the changing nature of workspaces/places through a consideration of cultural products and artistic responses to the experience of paid labour. When she is not editing blog posts or reading Peter Fleming, Katy also helps with Royal Holloway’s student-run film and debate society, Passengerfilms and reads/experiments with creative research methods and poetic ethnography.

Huw is a first year AHRC-funded PhD student whose research focuses on re-performances of first-contact encounters in a colonial-indigenous context. A ‘Surgeon’ since undertaking an MA in the department 2014-15, Huw particularly enjoys the interdisciplinary nature of surgeries. When not studying, he is also a (very) part-time project manager at the British Library. Other activities include photography, drawing, theatre, world music, badminton and avoiding cats.

AAG Dry Run: Miriam Burke, Pip Thornton and Simon Cook

17204138_10155050018541948_275600179_nOn a (finally slightly more spring-than-winter-like!) afternoon, the Landscape Surgery group gathered at Bedford Square to hear early versions of some of the papers being presented by group members at this year’s AAG Annual Meeting in Boston. We heard from Miriam Burke and Pip Thornton (pictured left), who delivered fascinating material; whilst Simon Cook, who was unfortunately unable to make the session, offered his apologies, but also had some fascinating material to share.

Miriam, Pip and Simon are also convening sessions at the AAG – below are both the summaries of their papers, and the description of the sessions they are convening.

 

Miriam Burke

Paper Title: Threads, ties and tangles: exploring the idea of ‘more than human’ social reproduction as a means to cultivate caring practices for the climate using participatory art practices

Abstract: In their ‘feminist project for belonging in the anthropocene’ Continue reading

‘A Smaller Audience than the Kardashians’: social media for academics with Prof Stuart Elden and Dr Mark Carrigan

both2 The Landscape Surgery group was pleased to welcome Professor Stuart Elden (Professor of Political Theory and Geography at the University of Warwick, and founder of the Progressive Geographies blog) and Dr Mark Carrigan (digital Sociologist, social media consultant and author of the recently published book Social Media for Academics).

The aim of the session was to share knowledge about how to productively use social media platforms in an academic context – even though none of us will (probably) ever have a social media audience as big as the Kardashians, as our speakers pointed out.

Academic Blogging
Stuart shared some advice from his own personal experience of blogging…

1) Be Useful to Yourself
What is the blog for? How will it be helpful for you? The primary goal should always be that blogging is something that is useful to you as a researcher: whether this is a way of thinking things through, sharing ideas and thoughts, or a way to connect to a wider research community. For Stuart, Progressive Geographies started out as a kind of public notebook or digital archive – a way to keep track of the research process and thoughts. Some academics also say that it helps with writers block – the practice of just writing something can spark off new ideas and perspectives and get the creative juices flowing! Continue reading

Superdiversity: Picturing Finsbury Park

A Research Exhibition by Katherine Stansfeld

Furtherfield Gallery, Finsbury Park 18th February to 1st March 2017

dscf8526Ruth Catlow, co-founder and director of Furtherfield introduced the perfectly-formed group of visitors to the impact that both Katherine’s “informal residency” and this exhibition has had. The show was open to the public for the first time last weekend. More than 300 people visited over the weekend, and 80% were first time visitors. As a way of engaging with the local community, Continue reading