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.