Category Archives: Research

Welcome to Warsaw: 17th ICHG Conference 2018

Stara_Biblioteka,_Warszawa,_Krakowskie_Przedmieście_26_28Warsaw University, Old Library

The triennial International Conference of Historical Geographers is a truly international gathering of scholars whose interests lie at the intersection of the temporal and the spatial.  This year the conference, which attracted participants from 39 countries, was held at the University of Warsaw, Poland, from July 15-20. To give some idea of the scale of ICHG 2018, there were 106 thematic sessions giving 365 papers on subjects ranging from the medieval to the digital, from the Crusades to the Cold War, and from mining to memes.

IMG_0962Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences, Market Place, Old Town, Warsaw

The conference was launched on the evening of Sunday July 15 with the keynote address given by our own Felix Driver in the picturesque setting of the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences, in the Old Town.  Warsaw’s Old Town has itself a remarkable historical geography: first established in the 13th century, much of it was destroyed by bombing in the Second World War and meticulously rebuilt using, wherever possible, the original materials.  Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it can be seen as a symbol both of Polish resilience and nationhood.  Felix spoke on the theme of “Biography and geography: from the margins to the centre,” in which he outlined the advantages of adopting a biographical approach to the writing of historical geography.

The rest of the week took place in the elegant former library building of Warsaw University, an institution which dates from 1816.  There we were generously fed and watered four times a day, and what a difference that can make to overall morale, motivation and energy levels!  A series of daily plenary talks began on Monday July 16 with Karen Morin’s sense- and thought-provoking “Prisoners and Animals: An Historical Carceral Geography,” an exploration of the linkages between human and non-human incarceration spaces and practices.  Another highlight of Day One was the roundtable discussion “Maps and Stories: What does the future look like for historical geographers?” chaired by former Landscape Surgeon David Lambert. From Miles Ogborn’s signal discussion of the limitations of current digital formats deployed in the publication of historical geographies (“Trapped in PDF world”), to Maria Lane’s advocacy of “slow scholarship,” David Bodenhamer’s revelations on the potential of “deep maps,” Jo Norcup’s call for greater intersectionality, and concluded by David Lambert’s consideration of the future for “exhibitionary geographies,” alternative approaches to our disciplinary practice were offered up for further discussion and consideration.

Our Kew session—“Biocultural Collections in Circulation”— took place on the afternoon of the same day.  Chaired by Felix Driver, with Michael Bravo as the discussant, the three papers shared the common themes of Kew Gardens’ collections and object circulation, but beyond that were significantly different in their respective foci: Keith Alcorn began with his analysis of plant and seed circulation from Kew over the extended period from the “Banksian era” to the state-funded Kew of the mid-nineteenth century; Felix and I, reflecting the research conducted in the course of the “Mobile Museum” research project, spoke of the motives, modes and meanings of distributions of objects from Kew’s Museum of Economic Botany in the 19th and 20th centuries; and Luciana Martins concluded the session with reflections on the ethnobotanical collecting practices of explorer Richard Spruce, and on the relevance of his legacy for present-day inhabitants of the Rio Negro region of Brazil.  We are thankful to Michael Bravo for his comments, which we all found helpful for the further development of our papers, and to the audience for their active interest and questions.

Echoing the theme of our session, the following day saw the double session “Mobility and the archive,” chaired by David Beckingham.  And the mobility of knowledge also emerged as a theme in Ruth Craggs’ and Hannah Neate’s session later in the week, “Global Histories of Geography 1930-1990,” in which we were invited to consider the question, “How do we globalise histories of geography?”

POLINPOLIN, Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw

The programme of talks and papers was intersected mid-week by a day of field trips.  My choice was the Warsaw Jewish History Tour beginning at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, a museum opened in 2013 and curated by Barbara Kirschenblatt-Gimlett.  The museum celebrates 1,000 years of Jewish history in Poland and commemorates the injustices perpetrated on the Jewish community on Polish soil.  I think we all had a greater understanding of both by the day’s end.

After a stimulating week of listening, thinking and talking, the conference ended on the announcement that the next conference, in 2021, will take place in Rio de Janeiro.  Até no Rio!

Caroline Cornish

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Aërography

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Aerography Panel: (left to right) Pete Adey, Gwilym Eades, Sasha Engelmann and Anna Jackman

After a long Easter break, this week was a welcome return to Landscape Surgery’s seminar series. We were welcomed back by a wonderful panel of guest speakers, as Pete Adey (Professor of Geography, RHUL), Anna Jackman (Lecturer in Human Geography, RHUL), Gwilym Eades (Lecturer in Human Geography, RHUL) and Sasha Engelmann (Lecturer in GeoHumanities, RHUL) each presented their work around the theme of aerography.

The session starts with an introduction by Sasha as she briefly explores the definition of aerography. Taken literally, aerogeography means a description of the air. However, when considering the term more deeply,it comes to embrace the whole domain of atmospherics from the flow and counter-flow of the air, the pressures, temperatures, humidities, dust content, electrical charge, as well as their function in relation to living systems. Citing the work of Alexander McAdie (1917) Sasha presents how aerography looks to engage with the multiple textures, nuances, and material resonances of the atmosphere and how by attending to them, we can develop new understandings around the wider energetic politics of the atmosphere. This is particularly poignant because, as Sasha goes onto discuss, geography has for too long been focused on the surface of the earth. She argues increasingly there is a need to attend to the new power geographies of the air. Especially when considering that the atmosphere is more and more beyond our control, as it becomes increasingly populated by drones, aircraft, pollutants, legal regulations, and waves of communication.

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Flow and the City: Adam Badger

 

AB1If a picture really can tell a thousand words, then Edgar Allan Poe’s Man of the Crowd could be depicted in just over three and a half images. Although clearly metaphorical, it does highlight the power of the image in cultural forms and debates. The geographical literature on visual methods is far too big and better written than anything I could pen for me to bother condensing into this small space. So I just won’t.

What follows, is a collection of images captured on one psychogeographical wondering through Brixton, on one dark and wet night a couple of years ago. Obsessed at the time with the notion of ‘flow’ and it’s place in the city, these present a mix of long and short exposure images that hopefully play with the idea of stasis conjured by the photographer – why is it when we take photographs we so often stand still? None of them have names because I don’t want to taint your judgement of the image, of what it is – and also because I’m terrible with names.

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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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Towards a generic history of geography textbooks

Catechisms, grammars, and readers: towards a generic history of geography textbooks

Innes M. Keighren

 

Introduction

Scholarship in book history and the history of geography has highlighted considerable generic diversity in the evolution of geography’s textbooks, showing their form, content, and purpose to have be shaped variously by pedagogical, political, and moral concerns (Brückner 2006; Marsden 2001; Ploszajska 1999; Sitwell 1993; Withers 2001, 2007). The historical publication of geographical textbooks was shaped too, as it is today, by the commercial interests of publishers; questions of price, format, and audience sat alongside those of intellectual value and practical utility (Clark and Phillips 2014). The historical decisions made by authors and publishers over the appropriate stylistic means and material form by which to present geographical knowledge to an audience of, typically, young readers are important for what they reveal about perceptions of geography’s value and assumptions made about how it might most effectively be communicated. In what follows, I trace briefly the generic development of Anglo-American geography textbooks from their early-modern origins to 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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10 days that changed geography

128 Piccadilly, home of the Lyceum Club. Taken from "Wonderful London", edited by St. John Adcock (1927–28).

128 Piccadilly, home of the Lyceum Club. Taken from “Wonderful London”, edited by St. John Adcock (1927–28).

For the last ten years I’ve gradually been piecing together the story of ten days in the history of British geography—between the inauguration (on 13 November 1912) of the Geographical Circle of the women-only Lyceum Club and the balloting of the fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society, on 20 November, on the question of women’s entry. The results of this work, drawing on contemporary press coverage and archival sources, have recently been published in The Professional Geographer as part of a special focus section on “Gender and the Histories of Geography”.

I first became aware of the Geographical Circle during my PhD research on the American geographer Ellen Churchill Semple, whose visit to the Lyceum Club in 1912 coincided with the Circle’s inauguration. Among Semple’s papers I encountered a menu card from the luncheon held by the Circle in her honour. It was, I subsequently discovered, one of the very few surviving material traces of the Circle’s existence. Notwithstanding the fact that the Circle was arguably the leading forum for women travellers and geographers during the Edwardian era, it has remained almost entirely invisible in histories of the disciple. The Circle hasn’t so much been written out of the history of British geography; it’s simply never been written in. My paper (the abstract of which follows) is an attempt to rectify that omission.

“A Royal Geographical Society for ladies”: the Lyceum Club and women’s geographical frontiers in Edwardian London

This article reconstructs the history, organization, and campaigning function of the Geographical Circle of the Lyceum Club—a membership group that, under the leadership of Bessie Pullen-Burry (1858–1937), sought to promote and legitimize women’s geographical work in early twentieth-century Britain. Through an examination of archival material and contemporary press coverage, I document the Geographical Circle’s efforts to establish itself as a professional body for women geographers and to lobby for their admission to the Royal Geographical Society. Although considerable scholarly attention has been paid to women geographers’ individual contributions to the discipline, their cooperative, professionalizing endeavors have been comparatively neglected. In tracing the parallel history of the Circle as an example of women’s self-organization, and of Pullen-Burry as an independent campaigner, I argue that a nuanced account of women’s professionalization in geography demands attention to both individual and collective endeavors.

Innes M. Keighren

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

The Second Annual Denis Cosgrove Lecture: Dee Heddon

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Photo: Ed Brookes

Walking Aesthetics and Performing Landscape

by Ed Brookes

The second annual Dennis Cosgrove lecture was presented by artist and researcher Dee Heddon. Dee is professor of contemporary performance at the university of Glasgow, and author of several publications including ‘Autobiography and Performance’ (2008) and co-editor of a new book series for Palgrave on ‘performing landscapes’. Her talk entitled ‘Walking Aesthetics and Performing Landscape’ invited us to explore Continue reading

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