Tag Archives: conference

RGS-IBG Mid Term Conference 2018: Call For Papers

HOlloway

The next RGS-IBG Postgraduate Forum Mid-Term Conference is being held at
Royal Holloway, University of London over the 18th-20th April 2018.

Hosted by PhD students in the Department of Geography, this event provides a great opportunity for postgraduate students to present their research and discuss new ideas in a relaxed, friendly and supportive environment.

Postgraduates from all stages of their research are welcome to present, and the conference provides an ideal opportunity for first-time presenters, or those preparing for other conferences or their PhD Viva. If you want an opportunity to practice your presenting skills or to network with fellow postgraduate geographers, this event aims to foster a relaxed and informal space to discuss your research, offering a diverse and often interdisciplinary array of topics.

On top of a packed programme of paper and poster presentations, the registration fee (£60) will also include: workshops, keynote speeches, research working group meet and greet sessions, a drinks reception and three-course meal on the Thursday evening.

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The call for papers is currently open, and the conference invites any submissions from postgraduate researchers from all areas of geography, proposals may focus around a specific paper or chapter, a research project or thesis more generally, or topics relating to research methods and fieldwork (whether successful or challenging).

Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words along with four keywords, your full name and university, and your intention to present a poster or paper to rgsmidterm@rhul.ac.uk by no later than Friday 19th January 2018.

To find out more and apply please visit the conference website the http://www.pgf.rgs.org/mid-term-conference-2018/

Please follow  @RGSmidterm2018 for more information and regular updates.

If you have any additional enquiries regarding the conference, feel free to contact the organisers at: RGSMidterm@rhul.ac.uk

 

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Radical Cities, Radical Narratives

Radical Cities.pngImage Courtesy of Emily Hopkins

Radical Cities, Radical Narratives was an inter-disciplinary conference held by English and the Centre for the GeoHumanities on October 20th 2017.  I was really lucky to be invited onto the Radical Cities, Radical Narratives conference committee alongside Laurie, Serge, Ahmed and Gareth from the RHUL Department of English. The conference wanted to attract academic work that dealt with the themes of both narrative form and practice in relation to the social, material and aesthetic contemporary city.

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Regional Identity in Europe (or England!) at the RGS-IBG International Conference

A week ago, I chaired my first ever session at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Annual International Conference, which this year was held at the University of Exeter.

As a part-time Masters student, the initial response within the Faculty of me applying to run a session was a mixture of “You’re Brave/I would never have done that as a MA student!”, and whilst, yes it has had a few fraught moments over the past seven months or so, I can only firmly recommend it to Royal Holloway’s new intake of Masters students.

My own particular research area of Cornish Culture & Identity can often seem a bit like ploughing a lone furrow, as I am diverging greatly from a lot of the excellent research going on in our own immediate community – however, by looking at my immediate context and connecting it to present events around Europe – in particular Scotland, Catalonia and Veneto – I was able to attract a wide and diverse range of speakers for my session entitled ‘The Contemporary Growth of Regional Identity in Europe’.

Unfortunately, as these things often turn out, as the day of the session drew closer, several of my overseas speakers contacted me to withdraw, which left the session without papers on the important situations regarding devolutionary or independence movements in the North of England and Veneto. Consequently, I drew on my links with the burgeoning Cornish academic community, and my session was transformed into an affirming range of papers which dealt with the contemporary sense of what Hechter (1999) termed as ‘Internal Colonialism’, which has gained greater impetus since April 2014 when Cornwall was designated with National Minority Status under the Council of Europe Framework Convention.

The other major consideration with the RGS-IBG International Conference is its sheer scale – it is a conference attended by over 1,400 delegates from all around the world, and around 25 sessions run at the same time, hence you are competing strongly for an audience – unlike on previous occasions when I had made presentations on my research elsewhere where there was only ever one auditorium! I was absolutely delighted that the session drew a large audience of students and academics from all four corners of the globe, and it was exciting to see that Cornish Culture & Identity, plus the inherent sense of ‘difference’ between Cornwall and England was receiving such high profile attention.

Aspiration for One and All? Andrew Climo from the University of Oxford spoke about Cornwall’s historic devolution demands; summarising the fact that up to the late 1990s, calls for Cornish devolution were inchoate, but in 2002, the Cornish Constitutional Convention published its prospectus called Devolution for One and All, which acted as a nexus for the various competing views on future governance. His paper discussed what such a document might look like and how public engagement might be developed.

Julie Tamblin of ‘Learn Cornish in Cornwall’ then presented a historical overview on the three linguistic forms which characterize Cornish culture – Kernowek, Cornu-English and English and made connections between voices from Cornwall and Cornish voices writing back from the diaspora, showing the global influence of Cornish culture.

Mike Tripp, who recently retired from the Institute of Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter presented a paper entitled ‘Where there were two Cornishmen, there was a “rastle”: Cornish Wrestling & Identity’. Dr. Tripp’s paper covered the development of the sport into a widespread ‘traditional’ activity, deeply rooted in the local culture and, prior to the birth of Rugby Union, was Cornwall’s most popular sport. When, in the second half of the nineteenth century the Cornish economy suffered a catastrophic collapse that precipitated large numbers of people to leave Cornwall to find work abroad, the Cornish stuck together in distinct ethnic communities sustaining a strong sense of identity which manifested in the Cornish dialect and wrestling in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand

Finally, and very timely given the recent publication of his outstanding new book, Will Coleman, a bard of the Gorsedh Kernow presented an exceptionally lively paper entitled ‘Plen an Gwari: places of Play, Inclusivity and Resistance’. In this work, Coleman examined how in many places and cultures throughout history, performance has been used to articulate and strengthen the aspirations of minorities and to represent narratives resistant to dominant cultures. Driven by the ‘powerhouse’ of Glasney College in Penryn, the Gwari Meur culture of medieval Cornwall flourished for several hundred years and reached profound levels of artistry in its drama and literature. Related forms also developed elsewhere across Europe but “Cornwall was to do it better, and more intensively, than anywhere else” (Kent, 2010). The Gwari Meur culture was “a vital part of that strategy of resistance [… to Anglicization]” (Spriggs, 2004). It was international in its outlook yet intensely parochial in celebrating its sense of place. It was rebellious, unorthodox, irreverent, profound and a lot of fun. As a cultural totem the plen an gwari is the perfect foundation for the territory of Cornwall as we rebuild our inclusive, forward-looking and celebratory sense of Cornish nationhood.

To some Cornwall may be a county which is quite nice to go to on holiday. Delegates from around the globe left this session with a new sense of the immense pride that the Cornish have in their land. Gaging from questions that were directed to myself and my presenters, renowned focus on this particular ‘peripheral’ appendage of South-West England is about to take place…

Ben Gilby, MA Cultural Geography (Research) Part-Time (2nd Year)

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‘Geography Flies’ Through Years of International History

By Benjamin Newman and Hannah Awcock

ICHG Name Tag and Programme

The International Conference of Historical Geographers took place from the 5th to the 10th of July at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in Kensington (Photo: Ben Newman).

As the International Conference of Historical Geographers drew to a close, amidst bids from St Petersburg and Warsaw to host the next meeting of the conference, Innes Keighren took to twitter to write that it was:

This, of course, was true in every respect. Over the previous six days, historical geographers from around the globe had come together in a frenzy of papers, plenaries, field-trips, lunches, dinners and a general hum of enthusiasm for historical geography. There was more to celebrate than just a successful conference with ICHG observing its 40th anniversary, and it was on that subject that Alan Baker (University of Cambridge) was invited to give the first plenary talk of the conference on the opening Sunday inside The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)’s Ondaatje Theatre. His plenary would serve both as a celebration of the evolution of the meeting of British and Canadian Historical Geographers in Kingston, Ontario 40 years previous, and also as a reminder of the barriers to participation in historical geography, both at the conference and in the Journal of Historical Geography. His talk and invited contributions from international scholars left much to muse over at the welcome drinks reception that followed.

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Professor Catherine Hall gave an excellent plenary about British slave-owners (Photo: Hannah Awcock)

Monday would see the conference officially begin with eleven parallel sessions offering a feast of historical geography for delegates to enjoy. It would be difficult to summarise the diversity of the contributions, from urban historical geography, feminist historical geography, and GIS, to historical geography of extreme weather, war, knowledge, instruments, books, architecture, photography and many more. As the full first day of the conference drew to a close delegates excitedly gathered in the Ondaatje Theatre to listen to the first of three evening plenary sessions. UCL-based Professor Catherine Hall spoke to the title: Rethinking Slavery and Freedom. Professor Hall took a novel approach to slavery, focusing on the slave-owners rather than the slaves themselves. Thinking about how slave-owners constructed their world and justified their ownership of human beings allows us to put slavery back into British history.

Tuesday would be another busy day of all things historical geography, with Landscape Surgery’s first speaker, David Rooney. He got the Surgeons off to a good start with a paper on ‘Technologies of Segregation on the Streets of East London.’ He would be the first of a large number of Surgeons who participated in the conference, with Liz Haines, Noeme Santana, Hannah Awcock, Bergit Arends, Bethan Bide, Janet Owen, Innes M. Keighren, and Veronica della Dora, all involved in either convening, speaking, or both. And of course our own Felix Driver was Chair of the local organizing committee! Tuesday’s plenary was a landmark session with Felix chairing the inaugural British Academy Lecture in Geography, welcoming Bill Cronon (University of Wisconsin-Madison) to talk under the provocative title: Who reads Geography or History Anymore? The Challenges of Audience in a Digital Age. His talk discussed the death of the book length monograph, reading practices in the digital age and challenged the academy to consider the potential of various non-traditional outputs.

The RGS-IBG provided a perfect backdrop for lunch in the sunshine (Photo: Sophie Brockmann).

The RGS-IBG provided a perfect backdrop for lunch in the sunshine (Photo: Sophie Brockmann).

Conference delegates may have embraced Bill Cronon’s calls for academics to engage with social media a little too enthusiastically with the appearance of the @Geographyfly twitter account. The tweets were supposedly by a fly who liked to participate in proceedings by crawling around on the projector in the Ondaatje Theatre during plenary sessions. There was a certain amount of ‘buzz’ about who the genuine culprit was.

On Wednesday there was a break from formal sessions for a series of field trips. A series of 17 trips, ranging from the historical geography of hop picking in Kent to a musical tour of Soho, proved that historical geographers do far more than just sitting in the archive. Surgeon Innes Keighren was one of the organisers of a trip to Maritime Greenwich. We both thoroughly enjoyed our field trips, and the general consensus was they were all well organised and informative.

The field trip to the site of the 1862 Great Exhibition also included a tour of the Albert memorial in Hyde Park (Photo: Ruth Mason).

The field trip to the site of the 1862 Great Exhibition also included a tour of the Albert memorial in Hyde Park (Photo: Ruth Mason).

Thursday’s tube strike—minus some sore feet from walks across London—did little to dampen the atmosphere as parallel sessions kicked off again after Wednesday’s hiatus. That evening the final plenary of the conference was given by Professor Simon Schaffer (University of Cambridge), on the topic of ‘Astronomy at the Imperial Meridian: The Colonial Production of Hybrid Spaces.’ It is of note that none of the plenary speakers (apart from Alan Baker) identify as historical geographers, which reflects the truly interdisciplinary nature of the subject. In the opening plenary on Sunday evening Professor Mona Domosh (Dartmouth College) had suggested that maybe it doesn’t matter so much whether scholars call themselves historical geographers. Rather, what matters more is that people are doing historical geography in new and interesting ways, and after attending the ICHG it would be very hard to argue that it is anything less than a vibrant and dynamic discipline.

Historical geographers work hard, and they play hard! (Photo: James Kneale).

Historical geographers work hard, and they play hard! (Photo: James Kneale).

On Friday morning the finish line of this six-day marathon was in sight, but sessions continued unabated. The conference drew to a close with delegates choosing the hosts of the next ICHG. We would personally like to thank the Local Organising Committee and the RGS-IBG for doing such an excellent job of organizing and running the conference, and then all that remains is to say see you in Warsaw in 2018!

by Benjamin Newman and Hannah Awcock.

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Conference Presentation: Excited or Petrified?

Embarking on utilizing autoethnography to research sexuality for my undergraduate dissertation at Royal Holloway was a tough decision. Nevertheless, it seemed like an interesting and potentially transformative methodological avenue to adopt to research the construction and contestation of homosexual identities in rural Essex as I was endeavouring to accomplish. Indeed this case has proven true as 18 months since the completion of the original empirical research, I am preparing a paper composed from this empirical research. When my dissertation supervisor initially suggested I submit a paper for submission for a conference, I never thought it would be accepted. It seemed to me to be an experience I would only be successful in procuring in latter years of academic study, not as a Masters student as I currently am. Therefore receiving the email in the first week of the New Year that I had been accepted secured me a disconcerting ensemble of anxiety, excitement, worry and self-doubt. I must report in the four weeks hence, since the news has had more time to percolate, I still feel the same way.

On the 16th of May, I will be presenting my paper entitled “(Re)defining Rural Geographies of Sexualities through Autoethnography: Picturesque and Idyllic Fields and Farmlands as Masculine Sanctuaries within Landscape” at the Masculinities in the British Landscape conference held at Harlaxton College. Here is the abstract for the paper:

“This paper adopts autoethnography in order to explore the hidden, intricate and interwoven nature of the construction and contestation of male homosexual identities within the landscapes of public spaces in rural Essex. Specifically, it analyses the co-constitutive relationship between homosexual male identities and the rural landscapes, citing the importance of analysing emotional responses to the landscape in understanding the intricate webs of spatialities of male homosexual identity. Challenging normative notions of the hegemony of heterosexual identity within rural areas, analysis of thirty-four days of consecutive analytic autoethnography demonstrates how fields and farmland evoke a unique emotional experience. The nuances of this experience are discussed in relation to three themes: sanctuary, wilderness and nostalgia. Overarching these three themes is a broad recognition of how the mediation of homosexual male identities by rural landscapes is fundamentally therapeutic against a background of hegemonic heteronormativity embedded into rural society. In concluding, this paper emphasises the potential utility of formulating such emotional self-cartographies for comprehending the symbiotic relationship between sexual identity and landscapes, and more broadly underscores the need to consider emotion when researching rural geographies of sexualities.”

With sessions entitled ‘Bloodied Landscapes’, ‘Imagined Landscapes’ and ‘Emotional Landscapes’, it is shaping up to be a fascinating opportunity to see the interdisciplinary interaction and scholarship currently happening within landscape studies from different arenas around the academy. This is evident in the ‘Emotional Landscapes’ session that I will be presenting in, whereby my paper regarding the geographies of sexualities sits besides a discussion of romance, grief and masculinity in Moreland as well as a presentation on the literary portrayals of the Clerical Rambler. I feel honoured to have the opportunity to partake in such interdisciplinary discussion.

One nagging question however remains rather prominent for me, something dominating my thoughts of late whenever thinking of this particular opportunity. How do I feel about having to intimately portray my sexuality and its everyday spatial and temporal idiosyncrasies to the world? This concurrent concern I knew all along was going to be an inherent part of adopting an autoethnographically-oriented methodological attack, yet its evident significance and meaning is only just becoming realized to me 18 months down the line. However I reason that in invoking such self-display I will hopefully be following in the fascinating footsteps of some other socio-cultural geographers who I would argue have advanced geographies of sexualities scholarship considerably through invoking their own experiences, emotions, feelings, behaviours and cognitive sensations as their core empirical material. Through chatting with other members of this academic community, I have gathered that this concern is very much characteristic of the requisite nerves synonymous with your first conference presentation. My mind is therefore (momentarily) eased. Nonetheless, I cannot wait to grab this opportunity and see where it takes me.

Oliver Knight, MA Cultural Geography (Research).

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