Monday, 29 December 2008

CFP: Cosmetic cultures

Call for papers

Papers and panel sessions are invited for an international, interdisciplinary conference on Cosmetic
Cultures to be held in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies at the University of Leeds from the 24
to 26 of June 2009.
Papers on any element of ‘cosmetic cultures’ are welcomed but the conference seeks to move beyond well-
rehearsed ‘Beauty Myth’ arguments. Beauty has often been conceptualised as the concern only of women (or the only concern of women!) and as idealised in ‘whiteness’or ‘Westerness’. Whilst many have found significant evidence to support these
claims, work in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies has already fl agged up the importance of men, masculinities and beauty, both in the ‘West’ and ‘East’ and has disrupted the idea that whiteness alone presents idealised beauty in all parts of the world, or even in this one. Whilst beauty ideals may be important in one sense, this conference also aims to explore beauty practices. The subject’s engagement in beauty practices may be ‘transformative’ in line with current ideals, and undertaken in the clinic, or it may be everyday and mundane, practices in the home or ‘salon’.

Themes will include:
• National beauty cultures and histories and the intersection between local and globalised ideals;
• Beauty practice ranging from ‘spectacular’ makeover cosmetic surgery to mundane beauty
technologies such as diet and exercise, skin tanning/ lightening, hairstyling, hair removal and
• Intersections of ‘race’, class, gender and beauty cultures and practices; men, masculinities and beauty;
• LGBI and Trans beauties; surgical tourism;
• TV makeover shows;
• Work in the ‘beauty industry’, including medical practices and cultures, beauty salons and cosmetics
marketing and manufacture as well as (fashion and glamour) modelling.

By encouraging participants to explore beauty cultures, practices and politics in their broadest sense we hope to advance current debates and develop an international network of researchers. Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

* Professor Carolyn Cooper - University of the West Indies
* Professor Kathy Davis - University of Utrecht
* Dr Debra Gimlin - University of Aberdeen
* Dr Meredith Jones - University of Technology, Sydney
* Professor Toby Miller - University of California, Riverside
* Professor Elspeth Probyn - University of Sydney

200 word abstracts and panel suggestions should be emailed to: Matthew Wilkinson at no later than 1 March 2009. Please mark all emails with ‘Cosmetic Cultures’ in the subject line.

For further info, visit the conference website:

Sunday, 7 December 2008

RGS Conference 2009

What follows are a series of calls for papers and contributors to SCGRG sessions planned for the annual conference, 26th-28th August 2009, Manchester. All session organisers will want abstracts by end of January 2009 at latest, so if you wish to get involved, please contact session convenors asap.

For more details of conference, and updates, please see the RGS website

RGS CFP (10) Geographies of seasons

Geographers have yet to explore fully the changing ways in which societies relate to the seasons. This is somewhat surprising when research on seasonality has the potential to shape an important and contextually sensitive approach to the ways in which people live with the climate. Indeed an exploration of seasons might serve as something of a touchstone in terms of how people relate to climate today and how they might come to live with climates of the future. Across the western world many lifestyles are becoming deseasonal as people choose to spend more and more of their time indoors within air conditioned environments. Yet some argue the effects of seasons are increasingly important as higher summer temperatures make particular forms of mortality and morbidity more common during this time. There are also concerns about winter with regard to how various groups cope with cold and how they could pass through this time more effectively. Meanwhile a variety of public promotions encourage us to link our lives more closely to the seasons. Sustainability agendas sometimes promote seasonally attuned living as a means of achieving a more authentically local form of existence in terms of food consumption and other activities. Yet commercial interests regarding clothing and lifestyles use the same strategy to sell products and services we might not otherwise want or need. There are many reasons why we might be interested in seasons.

Cultural historians have occasionally speculated about the dwindling degrees of seasonal experience associated with the human migration to cities. Stehr (1997) contends that an increasingly indoor urban existence may bring an increased fascination with weather and catastrophic climate events. Kammen (2004) argues that the resulting uniformity of experience breeds the desire for seasonal symbolism as a means of coming to terms with our corporeal existence. The argument sustaining this proposed session is that, in order to move beyond speculation, we should examine how social relations with the seasons are organised and represented both today and in the past and in various societies across the globe. This session will therefore provide a forum for geographers and others interested in the seasons to come together. This is a potentially important research topic and it could usefully be enriched by a number of conceptual and empirical approaches at this stage. Our aim is to explore these issues and thereby initiate a new conversation about how an explicit focus on seasons could enrich various policy and academic agendas.

Though we do not seek to limit the focus at this stage, possible papers might:

1. explore how a focus on the seasons might enrich and develop established interests in climate change and processes of adaptation to climate change

2. discuss the ways in which geographers have examined the seasons in the past and how they are represented within wider society today

3. conceptualise how the seasons should be understood according to the materiality associated with their experience in terms of weather and other encounters

4. provide empirical cases of how particular groups manage their seasonal experience, how they have done so in the past, and how they could be encouraged to do so better

5. think about how a focus upon seasons might advance our understanding of nature and how its particular component parts can be accounted for

6. explore the season as a particular form of experienced rhythm that necessarily intersects with a variety of other social temporalities

7. consider seasonality in terms of how it is marketed and practised within processes of food production, fashion retailing and other businesses

8. reflect on the policy potential of research work explicitly concerned with seasonal change in contemporary society

Titles and abstracts (200 words) should be emailed to Russell ( by Friday 23 January 2009. We would also welcome initial expressions of interest and ideas, so feel free to get in touch.

Thursday, 4 December 2008


A plug for a journal (of sorts) that may be of interest to urban social types. Well, I like it:

RGS CFP (9) Geographies of memory

Much is made of the (present) moment in recent non-representational geographies - that is the ever-moving front of becoming in actuation with all of its possibility, material, embodied, relational, affective, performative richness. This session seeks to fold (individual) memory more fully into this understanding of becoming. Damasio states that affective becoming does make us transient entities, and yet, at the same time, we have an ‘autobiographical self’- ‘a nontransient collection of unique facts and ways of being of systemised memory’. Memory is a fundamental aspect of becoming, intimately entwined with space, affect, emotion, imagination and identify yet also a hyper-complex, mostly unknown, and unknowable set of processes. ‘People [are] rather ill-defined constellations [ ] “not confined to particular spatio-temporal coordinates, but consist of a spread of biographical events and memories of events, and a dispersed category of material objects, traces, and leavings”’ (Thrift/Gell). This session seeks work (academic/literary/artistic/therapeutic) which explores memories of geographies and/or the geographies of memories, and how these (help) generate the present. Work is sought which focuses on personal, private memories rather than more frequently studied popular, collective memories, and which considers memory in relation to space, affect, emotion (love/loss), materiality, age, embodiment, displacement, belonging (nationality) and more besides.

Email address

RGS CFP (8) Beyond Home and Family: Alternative Spaces of Ethno-Consumption

With commodities and consumption firmly embedded in geographic research and debates (Bridge and Smith, 2003; Goss, 2006; Mansvelt, 2008), the important roles that material culture and consumption play in locating and embedding migrant identities are now increasingly recognised. Homespaces, as sites of consumption and performances of ethnicity, have been especially closely investigated (Petridou, 2001, Tolia-Kelly, 2004; Walsh, 2006; Miller, 2008).

With so much research focusing on ‘home’ and ‘family’, however, the intense emotional connections between ethnicity, migration, consumption and material culture which take place beyond the immediate spaces of home and family need more attention. There are countless other arenas where this relationship can be studied: ‘ethnic’ retailing; the consumer behaviour of migrants and ethnic minorities; uses of space in specialist shops (Bonus, 2000); the social functions of specialist shops (Hamlett et al., 2008; Rabikowska and Burrell, 2009); the development of key migrant shopping areas (Roman- Velazquez, 1999; Li, 2005; Duruz, 2005); and shops and services as meeting points between minority and majority communities (Wang & Lo, 2007). Similar scrutiny can be applied to other experiences of ‘ethno-consumption’ (Ekstrom, 2004) such as beauty services, magazines, internet sites, dress and fashion, restaurants and cinemas (Puwar, 2007).

This session seeks to interrogate these ethno-consumer connections, looking beyond homespaces and family units to consider the emotional geographies at play in alternative, and often hidden, spaces of ethnicity and consumption.

Email address

CFP RGS (7) Intersections of English- and German-Speaking Social and Cultural Geographies

Over the past decade, English-speaking social and cultural geography has developed sensitivity for geographical voices from other language areas. This includes specific sessions for international conversations at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference (Hudson and Williams 2004) and an ongoing series of country reports on geography’s state-of-the-art in the journal Social and Cultural Geography (Kitchin 2003). There are also commentaries on the English-language hegemony in geography and related asymmetries and challenges of international academic exchange (Samers and Sidaway 2000; Garcia-Ramon 2003; Berg 2004; Kitchin 2005; Paasi 2005; Aalbers and Rossi 2007), and individual reflections on the situation of non-native speakers in English-speaking social and cultural geography (Belina 2005; Helms et al 2005). Building on these exchanges, we aim to organise two paper sessions and a panel that focus specifically on the multiple relationships between English- and German-speaking social and cultural geographies. We are interested in historical interrogations of this relationship and in contemporary analyses exploring the intersections, divergences and convergences of theoretical frameworks, methodological approaches and topical foci. In close association with the conference theme Geography, Knowledge and Society, we hope to inspire innovative studies and vibrant discussions on the questions of how social and cultural geography is practiced in different language contexts and why certain concepts and topics are more successful or travel more easily than others, thus displaying a larger connectivity across geographical and linguistic boundaries. Email:

CFP RGS (6) Geographies of the end of the world

This session will explore the science, culture and geography of the ways that worlds end. Predictions of the end of the world have (of course) been around a very long time. Yet time has not stilled popular, religious and cult interest in the idea of the end of life on earth. Thus, the website "Exit Mundi" lists 56 end-of-world scenarios, classifying them into those that can happen any day now, those possible in the near future, and those in the distant future. Meanwhile, disaster movies continue to explore the world's end -- by rapid climate change, meteor strikes, alien invasion, deadly viruses, social and economic collapse, terrorism, technological change (especially the rise of robots), the expansion or decline of the sun, nuclear war, infertility, vegetation's revenge and the like. Western society remains fascinated by the horror of doomsday, by the possibility of its own catastrophic downfall. However, the popular fascination with our own extinction paradoxically domesticates it, makes it seem unreal, unworthy of serious thought. In this session, we will nonetheless take the end of the world seriously – but by thinking through its specific geographies. In this way, we hope to illuminate the processes and politics of global disaster, rather than just laugh them off. Contact:

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

CFP RGS (5) Geographies of the passenger

Research that has contributed to the new mobilities paradigm has helped to illuminate some of the various intersecting virtual, corporeal and incarcereal mobilities that constitute contemporary spaces of flows (Cresswell; Urry). However significantly less has been said about the particular experience of passengers who are caught up within these flows, networks and systems (although see Adey; Laurier; Bissell). Even less has been expressed about how the passenger and their experiences have been conceived, imagined, manipulated, regulated and engineered. And whilst some detail has been given to the various modalities of mobility the passenger may take, far less engagement has looked at how the experiences and imaginations of the passenger cut across multiple of modes of mobility in different historical, economic, political and geographical contexts (Shaw). In a world increasingly on the move, these issues seem particularly pertinent.

First, this session seeks to attend to the sociality of the passenger experience by considering the types of relationship that cohere, condense or evaporate between passengers and the various socialities and forms of belonging that emerge and disappear. It will consider the moral and ethical topographies and the rights and responsibilities that come with being a passenger.

Second, papers may consider the various processes and practices that allow individuals or groups to become passengers (and to exit these roles). Considering the multiple tensions between activity and passivity the session will probe the qualitative differences between ‘passengering’ and its apposite counter-forms (be it piloting, driving, steering, directing etc.). It will look at the rites of passage, routines, strategies and tactics associated with becoming a passenger and how they impact on the body.

Third, this session examines how some of the various objects, prostheses and affordances both help and hinder passengers’ experiences of travel (Lury). It will look at the complex tensions and juxtapositions that emerge between experiences of comfort and discomfort (Virilio). In so doing it seeks to get to grips with the affective and emotional topographies that are immanent to becoming a passenger. This might involve various experiences of uplift or anxiety (McCormack; Sheller), or the affective dimension of travelling spaces that are engineered to make passengers feel and respond in particular ways.

Fourth, papers may explore the cultural-politico-economy of the passenger and its imbrications into various political, economic and technological orderings (Dodge and Kitchin). It will consider the extent to which the passenger has been controlled through various institutions and governance regimes, or the role of passenger testimony and historical renderings.

Fifth, the session will address how passengers and their practices have been transformed through time and space. It will explore how shifting social, political, cultural and economic contexts have brought about substantial alterations in the passengers’ style, conduct, meaning, significance and embodied (tele)mediated experience.

This session aims to explore the figure of the passenger as both an empirical actuality and an existential problematic by inviting contributors from across a range of disciplines to consider the significance of the passenger in its myriad forms.

Titles and abstracts (200 words) should be emailed to David Bissell ( and Peter Adey ( by Friday 23 January 2009. We would welcome initial expressions of interest and ideas.

Monday, 1 December 2008

CFP RGS (4) Follow the things

Twenty years ago, studies of the 'social lives of things' were thin on the ground. Material cultural geographies of commodities on their travels weren't being studied. So, those wanting to do this kind of research had little to be inspired by. And those wanting to use these studies in their teaching had little to work with. Now this work is everywhere: TV documentaries in which pop singers try to find the women whose hair they wore as extensions and which take lovers of cheap fashion to work in sweatshops; newspaper articles tracing the lives of tennis balls and tea bags; good shopping guides to ‘ethical furniture’; books exploring the genealogies of cod and coffee; artists exploring the geographies of bananas, milk and GPS devices; academics critically exploring the commodity chains of chocolate, diamonds, jeans and broccoli. All seem to have heeded David Harvey's (1990) call for work that defetishises commodities by revealing and questioning everyday exploitations, inequalities and value-contestations along commodity chains, and consumers' reliance on countless unseen others around the world to live the lives they live every day. However, there remain doubts about the efficacy of such work, as recent research into ethical trade campaigning has argued that attempts to forge empathetic connections between consumers and producers often fails to engage consumers in any meaningful action. The aim of this session is to bring together a range of academics, activists, artists and others pursuing this work, to address a number of its tensions and promises. These could include, for example:

- the more or less followed / more or less followable: beyond food and fashion;

- active materialities / heartful connections: beyond the information gap;

- making it 'fun': engaging audiences / the aesthetics of exploitation;

- exploring the ethics of the representation of ‘ethical goods’;

- veils of distance and transparency in the Internet-age;

- narrating commodity chains using the internet/citizen journalism/Web 2.0;

- relationships between disintermediation and defetishised commodities

- following methodologies: complex geographies <-> limited time & resources;

- practising theory / theorising practice in connective commodity research;

- film, art, journalism, activism, academia: inspirations and cross-over work;

- making commodity following public: traditional and organic approaches.

Please send enquiries, ideas and abstracts to Ian Cook (, Dorothea Kleine ( and Mark Graham ( by 29 January 2009.

CFP RGS (3) Geographies of the seasons

Geographical research has yet to fully explore the changing ways in which societies relate to seasons. This is somewhat surprising when the seasons could easily be understood as shaping an important and contextually sensitive approach to the ways in which people live with the climate. Across the western world many lifestyles are becoming deseasonal as people spend more and more of their time indoors. Yet others contend that the effects of the seasons are increasingly important as higher summer temperatures make particular forms of mortality and morbidity more common. There are also concerns about winter with regard to how various groups cope with cold and how they could pass through this time more effectively. Various public promotions meanwhile encourage us to link our lives more fully to the seasons. Sustainability agendas sometimes promote seasonal living as a means of having more authentic forms of existence in terms of food consumption and other activities. Yet commercial interests with respect to clothing and lifestyles use this same strategy to sell products and services we might not otherwise need. There are clearly many reasons why we might be interested in seasons. This session will provide a new forum for geographers and others interested in seasonal experience to come together. This is a potentially important research topic and it could be usefully enriched by a number of conceptual and empirical approaches at this stage. The aim is to explore these issues and thereby initiate a new conversation about how a focus on seasons could feed into various policy and academic agendas.


CFP RGS 2009 (2) Life going on and on

A range of recent geographical work has questioned the multiple spatio-temporalities and conceptions of embodiment which drive particular ways of knowing, being and acting on and in the world. Geographers have, for instance, continually questioned the spatialities of time, and vice-versa (Massey, 2005; Dodgshon, 2007). Recent work on pre-emption and hope has highlighted the affective registers at play in the potential futures open to intending subjects/societies (Anderson, 2006; 2007). Geographers of age have insisted upon more relational understandings of age, inter-generational relations and the lifecourse (Hopkins and Pain, 2007). Children’s geographers have deployed nonrepresentational theories to query the linearity of ‘growing up’, stressing that "embodiment-and this being-in-the-world-is always becoming: bodies are always in flux; always ongoing; never still"(Horton and Kraftl, 2006a, 2006b).

This session seeks to bring together critical debate about the diverse, multiple conceptions of spatio-temporality such as those above (and more besides). We seek empirical, methodological and conceptual papers that provide new insights into how bodies in/of the world go on. The session aims to question the multiple kinds of ongoingness done in and to the world. In particular, we seek papers that critically interrogate the relationships between hitherto separate theorisations of ongoingness (such as lifecourse, affect and time theories). We therefore invite papers which explore issues of space-time, embodiment and ageing in non-teleological terms through a range of theoretical and empirical engagements.

Papers might address (but are not restricted to) the following:
• age and embodiment
• how bodies ‘know’ ageing
• exploring the co-construction of age and embodied development with the development of spaces at larger scales (see Aitken, et al., 2007).
• the spatiotemporalities of memory, nostalgia, hope and fear as bodies grow up/go on
• alternatives to transitions
• questioning adulthood
• material/non-human accompaniments to ageing/going on


CFP RGS 2009 (1) Art and geographic knowledge

Are you critic, collaborator, creator, curator? Does your research in some way develop a relationship between geography and art? This session aims to explore the scope, methods and potential of art as a form of geographical knowledge. Papers are invited which address the what, why and how of this relationship. In other words what sorts of geographical knowledge can and have art forms participated in the making of? What potential do geographers find in art and creative practices? And how – by what mechanisms and methods – does art become part of geographical knowledge making?
It may be that your artistic and creative practices, or those which you study, are understood as performative of identities, or of ways of being in and relating to particular landscapes, peoples, places and the environment. It could be that you find in artistic practice an alternative mode of geographical knowledge making, offering access to sensory experiences of landscapes, people or places. Or maybe artistic modes of research and dissemination practices provide more creative modes of geographical scholarship or even more public, or political geographies. In short what value for the geographer and the artist can be drawn from the consideration and collaboration of art and geography? Your focus may be contemporary or historical practice and it is certainly not restricted to visual art. Formats may include but are not restricted to: papers, videos, performance works, sound works.


Monday, 17 November 2008

Social & Cultural Geography, Volume 9 Issue 8 2008

The new issue of the journal S&CG is a cracker, if I may say so!


The real creative class
841 – 847
Authors: David Wilson; Roger Keil
DOI: 10.1080/14649360802441473

Original Articles

Thinking race through corporeal feminist theory: divisions and intimacies at the Minneapolis Farmers' Market
849 – 869
Author: Rachel Slocum
DOI: 10.1080/14649360802441465

'Trash-talk' and the production of quotidian geopolitical boundaries in the USA-Mexico borderlands
871 – 890
Author: Juanita Sundberg
DOI: 10.1080/14649360802441424

Playing with fear: parkour and the mobility of emotion
891 – 914
Author: Stephen John Saville
DOI: 10.1080/14649360802441440

Ceramics, clothing and other bodies: affective geographies of homoerotic cruising encounters
915 – 932
Author: Gavin Brown
DOI: 10.1080/14649360802441457

A trip to the library: homelessness and social inclusion
933 – 953
Authors: Darrin Hodgetts; Ottilie Stolte; Kerry Chamberlain; Alan Radley; Linda Nikora; Eci Nabalarua; Shiloh Groot
DOI: 10.1080/14649360802441432
Book Reviews

Book reviews
955 – 965
Author: Paul Kingsbury
DOI: 10.1080/14649360802443164

Notice: Materialities conference - postponed

The third Materialities conference has been postponed until the new year so its timing does not clash with termtime. New time/place to be confirmed in due course

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Duncan Fuller

As some may know, Duncan died suddenly ten days ago. In time, I am sure members of SCGRG will want to discuss how we might appropriately mark his contributions to the group as both member of the group, one-time Committee member and speaker at many SCGRG sessions and events. He was both an provocative and passionate geographer, and his passing makes British geographer seem a less fun place. He will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are of course with his family and friends at this time.

For those who want to share their memories of Duncan as teacher, colleague and friend, please see:

Conference session report (3)

Geographies of Social Enterprise

The study of social enterprise organisations that trade with a social purpose is an emerging field of research that is of importance to geographers and other social scientists. This double session recognised the topical nature of the research and brings together academics already working in the field to present their work but also to discuss future research directions.

The first session focused on the geographies of social entrepreneurs/enterprise covering a variety of research areas: Jane Ricketts Hein presented a summary of research on the role of churches in rural areas; Emma Street discussed her research with the South Bank Employers Group; Dan Van der Horst showed the importance of social enterprise in the renewable energy sector and Muki Haklay discussed the use of Geo-Spatial mapping techniques in understanding social impact to cultural and social geographical aspects of social enterprise.

In the second session focused on connecting social enterprise research with social theory and the relationship between social enterprise and the empowerment of marginalised and excluded groups. The session included presentations Mike Gordon, with some statistical analysis of social enterprise activities; Kean Birch discussing the role of the third sector in regional development and finally Sarah-Anne Muñoz offered a research agenda for social enterprise research.

The sessions complemented each other by focussing on the different approaches and methodologies associated with social enterprise research. It is hoped that this will stimulate further research on social enterprise within Geographical research.

Conference session report (2)

A session that was co-sponsored by the SCGRG at this year's RGS involved photography. The images were a mixture of self-directed photos and those taken by researchers. All were exhibited in the tented area at the RGS and seemed to attract much interest. For further images and details, see:

The session had two objectives, first to bring together current work using participant directed photography and second to critically examine the spaces of the conference by providing an exhibition rather than a paper session. Accompanying this exhibition was a panel session and a round table discussion. The exhibition involved work from 19 different projects grouped into four thematics: Photographs and young people; Imaging identity and the self in situ; Memory, images and remembering; and Images, marginalisation and resistance. These thematics occupied the informal spaces of the conference in the entrance foyer and great hall of The RGS building and the marquee in the grounds.

Both the roundtable discussion and the panel session with Gillian Rose JD Dewsbury and Eric Laurier were very well attended with some very interesting points raised both by the panellists, and in wider discussion. Not least was the issue that despite the effective and affective communication of ‘the image’ it is tempered within and softened by words. Moreover the academic space of the image is restricted to illustration by editorial requirements, ethical considerations, and print limits of academic outputs.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Conference session report (1)

RGS/IBG paper session, Friday 29th August 2008

Matters of Interdisciplinarity: Archaeology meets Geography

Convenors: Dr. Divya P. Tolia-Kelly & Dr. Richard Hingley (Durham Geography and Archaeology, respectively)

This materiality session successfully brought together archaeologists and geographers to consider both their shared and divergent approaches to understanding landscape. The diverse range of papers promoted lively discussion and highlighted the overlaps between the two disciplines and the importance of taking a broader interdisciplinary approach to research. The papers led us from post colonial readings of landscape and shifting perceptions of ruination and reconstruction of historic landscapes to contemporary emotional experiences and the cultural commoditisation and consumption of landscapes, especially in the heritage sector, via time geography and models of innovation. Some common themes which emerged were issues of ownership of landscape and the nature of rightful encounter and how these are (re)presented in mapping and recording techniques and artistic and literary works that deal with landscapes. Contributors from archaeology, geography, rural economics, and the environmental sector created a truly interdisciplinary and diverse session which fostered a fruitful exchange of theory and method providing new perspectives for all concerned. The discussant was Professor Stephen Daniels (Director of AHRC Landscape and Environment Programme).

Divya Tolia-Kelly & Robert Witcher
Martin Redding (Environment Officer – Witham)
Divya Tolia-Kelly(Durham – Geography)
Robert Witcher (Archaeology – Durham)
Richard Hingley (Archaeology – Durham)
Claire Nesbitt (Archaeology – Durham)
Glynn Kelso (Geography – Queen’s University Belfast)
Adam Wainwright (Archaeology – Exeter)
Nick Winder (Institute for Policy and Practice – Newcastle)
Claudia Dürrwächter (Institute for Policy and Practice – Newcastle)
Victoria Bell (Centre for Rural Economy – Newcastle)

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

CFP Geographies of Art

Call for papers: Geographies of art: Annual Association of American Geographers Conference, Las Vegas, 22-27 March 2009

Are you critic, collaborator, creator, curator ? Does your research in some way develop a relationship between geography and art ? A look at recent publications and conference programs indicates the growing scope of the interrelationship between art and geography and the increasing range of forms this work is taking as boundaries between geographers, artists and curators blur. The title of this session is broad, and deliberately so, for it aims precisely to consider the breadth of this relationship between geography and art. The intention is to bring together a range of practices, and practitioners, to consider the ideas, methods and conceptual developments that come from this so obviously fruitful relationship. This is a relationship which offers us purchase on so many of the important debates within geography today: creative research and writing practices,
identity performance and practices, landscape, representation and non-representation, affectual and sensory relations, immaterial labour practices, social and political sculpture, the environment, discourses of new materialisms… to name but a few. Alternatively, what do you, as an artist, get from geography and geographers? What value is drawn from collaborative working practices? Your focus may be contemporary or historical practice and it is certainly not restricted to visual art.

Formats may include but are not restricted to : papers, videos, performance works, or sound works. Potential topics may include but are not restricted to:

• the outcomes and practices of collaboration
• social sculpture, art and participatory geographies
• production, consumption and the circulation of aesthetics
• art and, and as, the political
• artistic networks, creative clusters and art schools
• geopolitics and art forms
• art as therapy
• art as practice and performance of identity
• aesthetics and politics
• art and geography’s critique of the visual
• artist as social agent
• art and regeneration
• the internet as art space/ networked art
• art and questions of affect and sensory relations
• the space of the museum/ the museum without walls
• site-specific practices
• environmental aesthetics
• art and landscape
• geography and visual culture

Please direct any questions and abstracts ( 250 words) to Harriet Hawkins at, by the 8th October 2008.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Third materialities conference/workshop, Dec, Exeter

Ian Cook (Exeter) is keen to get those who have been involved in previous workshops deciding the form and content of the third SCGRG materalities conference - 'Endgames'.

See for both archive of previous workshop content plus details of forthcoming event

Thursday, 28 August 2008


Loughborough University
8-9th September 2009

Responding to the growing interest in spaces of education within geography and cognate disciplines, this conference will provide a unique opportunity for debating key themes and concepts concerning the production, consumption and governance of education at different scales and in different cultural contexts. Recognising the diversity of sites of education and learning which are accessed at different stages of the life-course, it is intended that the conference will address issues relating to primary, secondary and tertiary education, as well as the wider production and circulation of knowledge within these spaces. Papers are hence welcomed which address any of the following themes:
• School catchments, parental choices and access to education
• Inclusions and exclusions in spaces of education
• Extended schools, families and communities
• The university in its social and cultural context
• Studentification and student cities
• Academic mobilities and migrations
• The globalization of education
The conference is supported by the Centre for Research in Identity, Community, Society (CRICS), based in the Department of Geography, Loughborough University, the Social and Cultural Geography Research Group (SCGRG) and the Children, Youth and Family Working Group of the Royal Geographical Society. There will be a limited number of bursaries to support the attendance of new career, postgraduate and unwaged delegates.
Please send abstracts (no more then 250 words please) to

Call for papers

Reinvigorating Social Geography: the politics and praxis of Social and Cultural Geography in the UK

A two-day conference of the Social and Cultural Geography Research Group of the RGS-IBG

University of Brighton 30-31 January 2009

The main aim of the conference is to provide a supportive, collegiate and stimulating environment to explore ‘what’ and ‘where’ are the contemporary social geographies within the context of the Social and Cultural nexus. Often viewed as an exciting and progressive sub-discipline of British and European geography, the conference seeks to ‘take-stock’ of the positionality of social geography, as Social and Cultural Geography becomes increasingly mainstream. A significant presence at RGS/IBG conferences, combined with a marked growth in journals, books and monographs, undergraduate dissertations, and specialised Masters programmes in this area, is testament to the penetration of Social and Cultural Geography across a range of academic arenas.

Yet as the reach of the sub-discipline continues to extend, there are ‘mutterings’ of a possible divorce between different strands of the research group, arguably often based on perceptions and hearsay. In light of these recent informal discourses and the possible, inter-linked, forging of new research groups, the conference provides a timely opportunity to explore the general health of relations within the Social and Cultural Geography nexus. Fruitful, and potentially, provocative themes which delegates may wish to discuss are:

What and where is contemporary social geography?
How important are individual, self-definitional markers of the members of Social and Cultural Geography?
How are social geographers now defined by ‘others’ outside of the research group?
Where does social geography currently fit within the context of Social and Cultural Geography, and the wider disciplinary boundaries of human geography?
Have the set(s) of practices employed by social geographers changed over the last decade, and, if so, how have they changed?
Have the overlapping interests of social geography with other sub-disciplines of human geography been re-cast over the last decade?
Are perceptions of the marginalisation of some streams within Social and Cultural Geography accurate?
How inclusive / exclusive are Social and Cultural geographies?
Are social and cultural geographies inseparable?
Is there substance to some interpretations of the ‘policing of sub-disciplinary boundaries’ within the Social and Cultural nexus?
Are discussions of internal conflicts harmful for the vitality of Social and Cultural Geography, or simply evidence of a vibrant and active research group?
Is a deep splintering of sub-groups unfolding within Social and Cultural Geography?
Does the current mission of the Social and Cultural Research Group provide a meaningful base for social geographers?
How do social geographers currently interface with other sub-disciplines of human geography?
Are social geographers increasingly multi-positional within human geography, and is this linked to the activities of the Social and Cultural Geography Research Group?
Should social geography be restricted to analyses of social relations?

Papers/presentations are sought which focus on one or more of the themes, outlined above.

The event will include short interventions from panellists, drawn from Social and Cultural Geography. Confirmed panel speakers include Rachel Pain, Phil Hubbard, Sophie Bowlby, Anoop Nayak, Peter Hopkins.

Please send abstracts or expressions of interest, before the end of September 2008, to one of the conference organisers:

Darren Smith (
Kath Browne (
David Bissell (

Attendance by postgraduate and research students at the conference is encouraged, and travel/registration bursaries will be available.

Details of the conference venue, accommodation and registration will be provided at a later date.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Annual Conference

Just over a week now until the Annual Conference of the RGS-IBG and I thought I'd take this opportunity to remind you of what the group is doing at the conference. This includes an unprecedented number of paper sessions, as follows:

Non-representational geographies (Weds)
The promise and problematic of technology (Thursday)
Events space (Thursday)
Fit Cities (Thursday)
Where species meet and mingle (Friday)
Photographs matter (Friday)
Mapping social enterprise (Friday)
Matters of interdisciplinarity: archaeology meets geography (Friday)
Migration and everyday matters (Friday)

I hope you agree this is lively and varied line-up that covers the gamut of social and cultural geography.

Our AGM is on Weds 27th August 1310-1425 in the Drayson Room (ground floor, next to Ondaatje Lecture Theatre), and all members are welcome. We are very keen to hear from people who want to propose sessions for RGS-IBG Manchester 2009; who have ideas about other meetings or conferences; who want to seek sponsorship for their own event; or want to get involved in the group as committee member (or any other capacity).

Full details of the annual conference are available online at:

I look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Denis Cosgrove 1948-2008

It is with tremendous sadness that we hear of Denis' passing. Indelibly associated with the revivification of the idea of 'landscape' in geography, his work also presaged more recent engagements with art and performance. As such, his contributions to cultural geography are inestimable. The Reading Weekend will provide one opportunity to reflect on his multiple contributions (see below): there will no doubt be others to come. Our thoughts are with his friends and family.

Social and Cultural Geography Research Group (RGS-IBG) Reading Weekend

23-25th May 2008, Hebden Bridge

We would like to invite you to a reading weekend hosted by the Social and Cultural Geography Research Group (RGS-IBG) from 23-25th May 2008 (Fri-Sun). The event will take place in Hebden House, located in Hebden Bridge (Yorkshire). Set in stunning countryside, the retreat will provide an opportunity for participants to explore sub-disciplinary themes and concerns in an informal atmosphere.

During the weekend, we will address the following themes:

* Denis Cosgrove (1948-2008) has had a tremendous influence on the evolution of cultural geography. We will consider his contributions and the way new research trajectories are emerging in cultural geography, including recent geographical attention to both art and nature/culture.
* It has been suggested that a new mobilities paradigm is emerging within the social sciences (Sheller and Urry, 2006). We will critically examine this proposition with reference to social and cultural geography research on forms of human mobilities, and on science and technology. We will further develop our discussions through a walking activity in the surrounding countryside landscape.
* We will also address the provocative question of 'where is the "social" in social and cultural geography after the cultural turn?' through selected readings. Our discussions will consider recent empirical, theoretical and methodological inquiries on social difference, the human/non-human ‘Other’ and socio-spatial justice – engaging particularly with interventions championing hybridity, post-identity, anti-foundationalist and/or relationality perspectives.

This reading weekend will allow participants to situate their research agendas in broader debates within social and cultural geography, possibly encounter 'accidental' intellectual discoveries, socialise with researchers from other institutions, and share personal enthusiasms and frustrations about being a social and cultural geographer.

Estimated costs for weekend accommodation, food and activities would be £106 (inc. VAT) per participant. A number of postgraduate subsidies are available for those without other means of funding. The deadline for registration is 30 April 2008. Please contact Kezia Barker ( or Elaine Ho ( for booking and further information.

Please circulate this announcement widely. Thank you.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

RGS-IBG SCGRG sessions 2008

Planned sessions for RGS-IBG 2008

Migration and Everyday Matters: Sociality and Materiality - Madeleine Dobson and Elaine Ho(Geography, RHUL). This session will focus on the micro-scale actions and experiences that matter in producing the daily social lives and identities of migrants. Co-sponsorship with the population geography research group.

Where species meet and mingle: remaking and tracing biogeographies - Gail Davies (Geography,UCL); Jamie Lorimer (OUCE). The session seeks to contribute to conceptual developments around geophilosophy, cosmopolitan natures and companion animals, as well as present high quality empirical research on the sites and zones where species meet, for example, in relation to biosecurity, nature conservation, biotechnology and chimeras. Proposed co-sponsorship with BRG, RGRG and HPGRG.

Photographs Matter - Jacob Bull, University of Exeter; Andrew Church, Geography, Brighton. This session looks to revisit stills photography to critically engage with images as a mechanism for understanding what matters in the world. Co-sponsorship Geography of Leisure and Tourism Group and the PyGyWG.

Geographies of social enterprise - Dr Mordechai (Muki) Haklay (UCL) Sarah-Anne Muñoz (University of the Highlands and Islands Millennium Institute). Exploring the geographies and social theoretical perspectives on social enterprise. Co-sponsorship with GIS research group.

Matters of Interdisciplinarity: Archaeology meets Geography – Divya P. Tolia-Kelly (Durham, Geography), Rob Witcher (Durham Archaeology),Richard Hingley (Durham Archaeology). This session aims to bring together current interdisciplinary research which bridges the disciplines of Archaeology and Geography. Co-sponsorship HGRG.

Non-Representational Geographies - Ben Anderson(Durham), JD Dewsbury (University of Bristol),Paul Harrison (University of Durham), Derek McCormack (University of Oxford), and John Wylie(University of Exeter). A session focusing on postgraduate research on non-representational geographies. Co-sponsorship HPGRG.

The promise and problematic of Technology:(Re)thinking bodies, spaces and times - James Ashand Sam Kinsley, University of Bristol. This paper session offers a forum for critical discussion and theorisation of technology. Co-sponsorship HPGRG.

Event Space Ben Anderson - J.D. Dewsbury, Derek McCormack. Theories of the event are becoming increasingly important and visible within the social sciences and humanities. At the same time, different kinds of events are becoming the focus of a range of political techniques and technologies. This session provides a forum within which geographers and others can think through some of the complexities and potentials of this concept. Co-sponsorship PolGRG.

Fit cities: bodies, movement, and practices of fitness and sport in the contemporary city Dr Alan Latham, Geography, UCL; Clare Herrick, Geography, King's College London. This group of sessions aims to start new conversations on a topic at once highly prescient and, at the same time, neglected by geographers: the place of fitness and sport in the contemporary city Co-sponsorship UGRG.

Friday, 4 January 2008

A message from the Chair

On taking over the reins from Mike Crang as Chair of the Social and Cultural Geography Group some 18 months ago now, I was struck by a number of things. The first was that the current Committee is incredibly youthful (to the extent that, at the age of 37, I feel positively ancient). Youth in itself is, of course, no good thing, but when combined with energy, vitality, and no shortage of good ideas, it fosters a sense of vibrancy that, I am sure, will transmit through all the group’s activities. The fact that all those on the Committee are working at the cutting edge of the sub-discipline is particularly noteworthy, and I am such that their collective enthusiasm for the new and exciting will give the group a sense of purpose and direction over the next three years

A second thing that occurred to me is that this is a particularly good moment at which to be involved in social and cultural geography. Far be it from me to suggest there have been moments when social and cultural geography has been less-than-vital, but perhaps one can identify times over the last 15-20 years when the sub-discipline has been more preoccupied with its own self identity, its ‘cultural turn’ and theoretical development rather than addressing the pressing social issues of our times. Now, I am not one of those geographers who insists that geography should always be ‘relevant’ or served up in neatly-digestible packages that can be consumed by policy-makers. There is much to be said for the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake, and a bit of navel-gazing is always useful if we are to avoid disciplinary atrophy. But what I find impressive about the sub-discipline at the moment is the way that theoretical and philosophical debate is being developed via engagement with issues that currently preoccupy politicians and media in the UK; body-shape, multiculturalism, anti-sociality, ethical consumption, the housing shortage, food safety, religious persecution, surveillance and so on, At the same time, social and cultural geographers are recognised to be pushing the envelope of geographical understanding by developing ideas about the nature of the non-representational, the affective, the material and the emotive. As such, the sub-discipline remains at the forefront of British geography both in terms of its engagement with the vital issues of the day as well as its predilection to push the frontiers of geographical knowledge.

Given the current rude health of Social and Cultural Geography (and one can also point to the success of the journal of the same name), I am confident in predicting that in the next three years the Group will consolidate its reputation via more successful sessions at the annual RGS-IBG conference, dedicated conferences and meetings (such as the ongoing Materialities workshop meetings, see this newsletter) and through the (re)establishment of the newsletter and website. Of course, I must end by reminding all those who are reading this that the group exists to serve the wider community of social and cultural geographers, and that if anyone has any suggestions as to how the group might further cultivate excellence in social and cultural geography, please contact me with your ideas.

Second Materialities workshop, Durham, 19th December

The second in the SCGRG workshop series on materialities was focused on vocabularies of materiality, exploring the relations between a set of concepts - excess/liveliness, agency/capacity, absence/presence, multiplicity/singularity. Held at Durham University, and kindly cos-sponsored by Social/Spatial Theory and Lived and Material Cultures Research Clusters, Department of Geography, Durham University.

The morning kicked off with three excellent position papers on materialites. The first, from Steve Hinchcliffe, explored the way a garden project in Birmingham was assembled through different materialities, producing different, co-existing and overlapping garden spaces. The second paper was from J D Dewsbury, who explored the movement from flesh to meaning, offering some post-Deleuzian ideas about immanence and presence. Finally, Gail Davies offered a thought-provoking exploration of the different materialities and capacities of captive experimental mice, with a particular focus on the way that animal/cultural divides are worked through in debates surrounding the science of laboratory testing. These papers were followed-up with some lively and wide ranging discussion touching on issues of biopolitics, capacity and life itself (among others).

In the afternoon, group discussions were held in which objects were taken as the basis for exploring questions of how we can deal with issues of materiality, with questions relating to the materiality of visual culture, heritage, hybridity, landscape raised in a conducive environment. The workshop finished with contributions from discussants Mike Crang, Paul Harrison and Ian Cook, and a general consensus that the event had been useful and productive as well as being throughly sociable. We look forward to the next, and final, Materialities workshop in 2008!

Thanks to Rachel Colls and Ben Anderson for convening and running so efficiently, and to Durham University for hosting the event