YEAR 1 PRESENTATIONS: the digital workplace, boredom, ‘first encounters’ and indigenous maps

For our final meeting of the academic year, the Surgeons were treated to a snapshot of what our first year PhDs have been up to. Below are the abstracts for the sessions presented.

Adam Badger, Space, Freedom and Control in the Digital workplace

This interdisciplinary PhD works across the schools of Geography and Management to understand the ways in which the use (and implementation) of digital technologies at work are transforming the identities and lives of those engaging with them. By utilising the relational ontology of ‘digital sociomateriality’ in conjunction with growing discourses of ‘workplace geographies’ this study seeks to explore how labour is continuously emergent through the interrelations of workplace and practice in contemporary employment. Primary analytical focus is (at present) geared toward developing understandings of how new digital work geographies are impacting; workplace surveillance, display, and (de-)territorialisation and will do so utilising research gathered from at least three linked case-studies. In this talk I will look to introduce the relevant debates currently present in the field and frame their relationship to possible case-studies.

 

Katy Lawn, Working through Boredom: Creatively Approaching Questions of Workplace Emotion

This paper will set out a proposed approach to a study of boredom as it relates to questions around the experience of work. As a key register of lived experience in contemporary society (Mann, forthcoming), boredom is often said to have arisen in tandem with modernity and the industrial process (Moran 2003). But, if boredom is so closely intertwined with the production process historically, what of boredom in our ‘post-bureaucratic’ era?
In considering questions around work (which are more usually framed in economic terms) the aim is to take a cultural-geographical approach to look at how work is experienced. I will set out the proposed structure of the research project, which is composed of two halves. The first half will deal with a set of case studies which demonstrate the ways in which artists and cultural practitioners have tackled the theme of workplace boredom through fine art, socially engaged art, poetry and photography. The second half will involve using creative methods such as photo elicitation and epiphany object interviews to produce a set of richly textured case studies which address participants’ working lifeworlds. This two-part structure fits in tandem with a wider concern with firstly: cultural approaches to studies of work and the workplace, and secondly: workplaces and work practices as emotional or “affective soups” (Thrift 2008:244).

 

Huw Rowlands, The Unbearable Rightness of Seeing

My working title is “Historical and contemporary performance of cross-cultural encounters: temporal and spatial dynamics”. My main interest is in ‘first-contact encounters’, what they are, why they are chosen for particular attention, and how performance analysis might help us understand their repetitions. So the key phrase in my first few months’ reading and thinking has been ‘first-contact encounters’. I have problems with each of these words; and I’m not even sure about the hyphen. I was drawn to this during research for my MA dissertation, through learning about how one story has been told over the years. Marine Lieutenant William Dawes sailed with the First Fleet, sent to establish a convict colony in New South Wales. The tellings in which he appears usually focus on his relationship with Indigenous Australian Patyegarang, from whom he learned most about the local language spoken at the time. Subsequently, I have chosen to focus on Cook’s first Pacific voyage in my search for PhD case studies. I will draw on these two contexts to explore some of the problems with ‘first-contact encounters’, as I work towards my first annual review over the next few weeks.

 

Joy Slappnig, The Indigenous Map: Native Information, Ethnographic Object, Artefact of Encounter

Assessing Indigenous contribution to colonial collections, such as the map collection at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), poses challenges of approach and methodology. Western collecting and cataloguing conventions have traditionally obscured Indigenous presence in the archive, and the small number of maps that have been categorised as ‘native’ often show more hybridity than might be assumed (having been co-produced by Europeans and Indigenous people during the process of colonial expansion, for example). Relational approaches to material culture, especially the study of ethnographic museum collections over the last decade, suggests new ways of conceptualising these maps. Rather than approaching them as images (as they have traditionally been analysed), studying these maps as objects can help to disentangle colonial relationships between Indigenous peoples and the British, and it can provide new insights into the role colonial collections such as the RGS play in defining the ‘Indigenous’.

 

Many thanks to our four speakers; and the Landscape Surgery cohort for their invaluable feedback, comments and enthusiasm. Wishing everybody a happy and productive summer 2017!

 

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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

Etched in Bone: Screening of a work in progress by Martin Thomas and Béatrice Bijon, with a response by Luciana Martins

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Photography: Huw Rowlands

This special session of Landscape Surgery on 9th May, supported by the Centre for the GeoHumanities, was an extraordinary opportunity to witness and respond to a ‘work-in-progress’ film by Martin Thomas and Béatrice Bijon, from Australian National University. The session was chaired by Felix Driver, Luciana Martins from Birkbeck, University of London responded, and the assembly generated keen discussion, which in its turn rippled out into the London streets and buildings and beyond.

My response will be less descriptive and summative than I am in the habit of offering, both because of the scope and complexity of our shared experience as well as the dynamics of its generation; its ‘coming into being’. I will instead attempt a reflection focused on three themes that struck me most forcefully, and acknowledge my omissions as well as my debt to all of you who created the experience with your responses. The first will be the historic events that the film bears witness to. I will move on to the recent repatriation events that the film witnessed. My aim will then be to consider the witnessing itself; the relationships between the film, audiences and events.

With that said, I would like to start with the customary warning to readers that I will be referring to deceased Indigenous Australians and others. Continue reading

Culture as an expression of ‘National’ Identity in Cornwall

Paulo Freire sees the relationship between a periphery and the state which sees itself as its ruler as being that between the Oppressor and the Oppressed. For Freire, cultural invasion (ie the ‘ruling state’ imposing its own culture on the periphery) is one of the main tools in achieving dominance. “Invaders penetrate the cultural context of another group, in disrespect of the latter’s potentialities; they impose their own view of the world upon those they invade and inhibit the creativity of the invaded by curbing their expression” (1983: p133).

In recent times, indigenous Cornish culture has became a major rallying point for those living in the territory, something which formed an integral part in the Cornish being granted National Minority Status under the Council for Europe’s Framework Convention. This legislation seeks to protect indigenous languages, culture and encourage the national government to recognise this sense of difference and take it into account when considering policy and funding.

But, for all the positivity that was there with the recognition of National Minority Status, Cornwall’s identity on a cultural and linguistic level has not previously received the recognition that it  Continue reading

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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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Notes on a Conference: RHUL Geographers at the RGS-IBG Postgraduate Midterm Conference 2017

As a first-time conference go-er, I was admittedly pretty nervous when I jumped on the train to Cardiff. Holding my prompt cards in one hand and my phone in the other, I found myself running through Paddington station at 9am with my (two!) backpacks, voice-recording my slightly-out-of-breath self reciting my presentation in preparation for the conference. This was not the picture of serenity I had hoped I would embody, but it did (and still does) make for quite an amusing listening experience.

In hindsight, I wish I’d have been able to relax a little more. Because the first thing to say about the RGS PG Midterm conference, is that it is very friendly; and very supportive. People had said this to me before, Continue reading

Introducing New Staff

Janet Bowstead British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow

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I am currently (2016-2019) a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. My project is “Women on the move: the journeyscapes of domestic violence.” My research continues to explore domestic violence Continue reading

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LS Programme Term 3

2 May 2017         Speculation and Meaning in the 1980s Swedish Art World: The Making, Display, and Dispersal of the Financier Fredrik Roos’ Art Collection                                    Jenny Sjoholm

9 May 2017           Etched in Bone Screening                                                                        Martin Thomas (Australian National University), discussant: Luciana Martins (The session will start at 2pm and finish around 4.30pm)

16 May 2017         Writing for the Broader Public                                                                     Emily Brown (The Conversation), Sasha Engelmann, Fraser Macdonald (University of Edinburgh), Oli Mould

23 May 2017      Convening Conference Sessions and Editing Special Issues
Sarah Evans, RGS Conference Officer

30 May 2017        Yr1 Presentations

31 May 2017       CGH event: Digital GeoHumanities: Digital Maps, Scale and Digital Film-making                                                                                                                    Co-convened by Harriet Hawkins, Ella Harris and Mike Duggan

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

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.