Tag Archives: PhD presentations

Year 1 Presentations: 29th May 2018

Following on from last weeks post, this weeks Landscape Surgery saw the next round of first year presentations, with each surgeon presenting their PhD research:


Emily Hopkins: 

Creating the ordinary city: Creative policy and the making of place and community in small cities

The ‘creative city’ continues to be used as a tool in urban development policy, with little sign of abating: 47 cities are now listed as part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Creative Cities Network (UNESCO, 2015).  However, studies have focused on the extraordinary narratives of iconic ‘global’ cities, like London, New York and Berlin. My research aims to extend existing ideas on creativity and its social, cultural and economic conceptualisations within urban communities and infrastructures. It counters current foci by attending to the ‘ordinary’ city, as an urbanity that intertwines with creative policy and cultural regeneration decisions, which is increasingly occurring in middle-sized UK cities. The case study is Coventry, a city in the West Midlands of the UK with over 300,000 residents – a place I know well, as my home city. In December 2017, Coventry won the title of UK City of Culture 2021. This will involve a year of cultural and artistic events to entice local civic pride, while attracting millions of pounds worth of regeneration investments, both private and public. This multi-dimensional thesis will use in-depth ethnographic methods and participatory action research to study the vernacular creativity, everyday communities and localised cultural ‘place-making’ processes to evolve discussions on creativity in cities, encouraging the appreciation of ordinary urban space in the midst of regeneration.

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Souvenir Geographies — My first year PhD presentation in Landscape Surgery

Shirt of London Made in Turkey, (photo by author, taken in Cool Britannia, summer 2014)

Shirt of London Made in Turkey, (photo by author, taken in Cool Britannia, summer 2014)

The first-year PhD presentation day is a tradition of Landscape Surgery. I attended it last year as an audience member when I was a MA student, and was honoured to be a speaker in it this year. For the LS presentation, I created a slideshow to help demonstrate my PhD (available here), which can also give you a taste of my PhD.

This project looks at a widely-loved object: the souvenir. Many people keep souvenirs as reminders of a person, place, or event. A souvenir is inherently geographical based on its nature. A souvenir’s mobility is its most outstanding geographical characteristic: souvenirs move from the place of tourism to the place of home; from ‘extraordinary’ place to the world of the ‘ordinary’. Although souvenirs take on many forms, functions and representations, they are often formally associated with a specific geographical place.

Studies related to souvenirs in SCG are rare. Morgan & Pritchard (2005) studied souvenir and self-identity; Hashimoto & Telfer (2007) talked about authentic geographical souvenirs in Canada; Ramsay (2009) had an impressive field work of souvenir production sites in Swaziland; while Peters (2011) studied banal souvenirs’ home placement. Souvenirs studies have potential for exploration.

My PhD project ‘Souvenir Geographies: Authenticity and Place Making’ focus on souvenirs on two way: one is to explore how souvenirs’ authenticity and meaning change along with places; secondly it looks at how souvenirs shape places in the terms of place making. This process is revealed by following souvenirs in a linear route: from the making sites, tourist sites, transport sites (AKA non-places: airports, train stations; Augé, 1994) and then to the tourists’ homes. In this quadruple layer process, souvenir’s spatiotemporal peculiarity makes it a great object to follow, and to analysis from a geographical perspective. Putting my Cultural Geographer’s hat on, I analysis souvenirs based on their spatial movements.

In the terms of methodology, ‘following the thing’ and visual ethnography are the most basic and key methods used through out the whole project. Apart from these, semi_structured interviews, using postcards as a method, participant observation, keeping fieldwork diary: text, image and video, and blogging as a method (project blog) are also used in this project. When it comes to field work, two fields are considered for this project. The first one is UK, and the other is China. In each case, equal factories, tourist sites, transporting sites and homes will be visited and same number of postcards will be handed out.

Souvenirs studying is an innovative and novel topic area in Cultural Geography, which promises to contribute to discussions in a range of geographical topics: material culture, place and, in particular, tourism studies.

Zhuyun (Amy) Zang, PhD Candidate

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LS programme Summer 2014


The programme for Summer 2014


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Landscape Surgery PhD Presentations Day


May 7th saw Landscape Surgeons meeting earlier than normal at Bedford Square for a fantastic day of first year PhD presentations. Covering topics from food, dining and family making, to creative writing, art, airports and neuro-aesthetics, and research methods from  ethnography, diary keeping, writing, curation and painting it was an informative day.


The day kicked off with two presentations on the geographies of food. The first by Farah explaining her research on “Dinescapes” in Malaysia. As well as discussing her research Farah entertained us with a discussion of the different types of themed restaurants that she had encountered, including “toilet” themed ones! Canny was next up talking about food and family making, her research prompted a lively discussion of public and private dimensions of kitchens in China, including “open-kitchens” where private kitchens become public spaces. Finally, before lunch Katie discussed her work on and with dyslexic creative writers,including auto ethnographic discussions of the spaces of writing practices including desks, publishers and festivals. Discussion ensued around the spaces and spatialities of these writing practices and also their ‘creative’ elements. After lunch we turned to an afternoon of geography, writing and art. First up, Miranda talked about her explorations of place and writing, prompting discussions on mapping, style and data imaginaries. This was followed by two presentations focusing on art and airports, albeit in very different ways. Clare discussed her practice based work, including what it meant to create paintings whose form was guided by the rules of the airport, whilst Mike discussed the challenges of curation art at the airport and the methodological issues related to collaborative research. In both cases the aesthetics of airport spaces were a point of query and discussion. The afternoon’s presentations ended with Jareh Das, talking about curation and neuro-aesthetics, and the challenges and possibilities of using contemporary neurological technology designed for the gaming industry to explore the experiences of live art. Discussion tracked widely including queries around live art, neuro-aesthetics and the challenges of ‘measuring’ experience.

Thanks to the presenters for talking about their work, to the audience for questions and comments and to Innes for the photographs.



Farah Che Ishak: “Dinescapes: Ethnic restaurants and consumer culture in Malaysia”

Chen Liu (Canny): “Food, Home, and Family-making in Contemporary Guangzhou”

Katie Boxall: “Cultural Geographies of Dyslexic Creative Writing Practice”

Miranda Ward: “Writing (Augmented) Place”

Clare Booker: “Art and Airports; Departures and Arrivals live feed.”

Mike Thomason: ‪”Curating Site and Situating Curating: Art in the Airport”‬

Jareh Das: “Neuroaesthetics and the Exploration of Live Art”



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First year PhD presentations 2013….


Landscape Surgery First year presentations

Tuesday 7th May

11am Start:

11.00-11.15: Quick news round up and announcements

11. 15- 11.45:  Farah Che Ishak: “Dinescapes: Ethnic restaurants and consumer culture in Malaysia”

11.45- 12.15 : Chen Liu (Canny): “Food, Home, and Family-making in Contemporary Guangzhou”

12.15- 12.45: Katie Boxall: “Cultural Geographies of Dyslexic Creative Writing Practice”

12.45- 1.45: Lunch (provided)

1.45-2.15:  Miranda Ward: “Writing (Augmented) Place”

2.15- 2.45: Clare Brooker: “Art and Airports; Departures and Arrivals live feed.”

2.45- 3.00 pm- Break

3.00-3.30:  Mike Thomason: ‪”Curating Site and Situating Curating: Art in the Airport”‬

3.30- 4pm :  Jareh Das: “Neuroaesthetics and the Exploration of Live Art”

4pm Pub


5.15: LGHG, Torrington Room 104, Senate House

Communities of resistance: towards a geography of dissent in First World War Britain Cyril Pearce (University of Leeds)


Summer 2013 Programme

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 Landscape Surgery Summer Session 2013

Unless otherwise indicated the sessions run, as normal from 2-4 in Bedford Square

30th April: The Celebratory one: “100+” Centenary of the entry of Women Fellows to the RGS, speakers include Katie Willis, Katherine Brickell and Innes Keighren. Readings to follow… 

7th May: The Presentation one:  First year PhD presentation day  11-4pm (nb. note time change, we will provide buffet lunch) titles to follow…

21st May: The Research one: Comforting Geographies, led by Laura Price and Danny Mcnally

4th June, TBC….

More informal events will continue over the summer… details to follow, please make suggestions/  plan events.

Also don’t forget the London Group of Historical Geographers seminar programme


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