RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014

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189 Postgraduate Snapshots: Engagements in Social and Cultural Geography
Affiliation Postgraduate Forum
Social and Cultural Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Richard Scriven (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)
Emma Spence (Cardiff University, UK)
Chair(s) Peter Adey (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
Timetable Thursday 28 August 2014, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Room RGS-IBG Lowther Room
Session abstract The aim of this session is to explore the different ways in which postgraduates are (co) producing social and cultural geographies through their research, collaborations, methods and encounters. Postgraduate research is frequently to the forefront of changes and challenges in the discipline, with large research projects, funding agendas, and national and institutional policies fundamentally shaping the work undertaken by postgraduates. This session allows for considerations and explorations of how ‘co-production’ is manifest in this arena by engaging with the diversity of postgraduate research.

We are seeking postgraduates to present a ‘snapshot’ of their research. In line with the title of the session, we encourage contributions which focus on one element, such as new fields of inquiry, theoretical emphasis, emerging methods, collaborations and innovations. The session is intended to be interactive as possible. We encourage participants to consider presenting their snapshot in innovative and engaging ways. Also, we particularly welcome proposals that are orientated towards different senses, including the use of pictures, videos, audio recordings and props.
Linked Sessions Co-production and Postgraduate Research: Presentation and Discussion Session
Co-production and Postgraduate Research: Poster Session
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2014@rgs.org
‘British Small Craft’: cultural geographies of a mid-twentieth century Science Museum display
James Fenner (The University of Nottingham, UK)
The British Small Craft display was installed in 1963 as part of the Science Museum’s new Shipping Gallery, and until the gallery’s closure in 2012, comprised of a sequence of twenty showcases containing models of British boats—including fishing boats such as luggers, coracles, and cobles—arranged primarily by geographical region. Many of the displays included accessory models and landscape settings, including human figures and painted backdrops. The majority of the craft displayed were acquired well before 1963—some were collected for a 1936 exhibition organised by the museum and the Society for Nautical Research; others can be traced back even further to the 1883 International Fisheries Exhibition. The Hastings diorama (shown above) was one of those 1963 displays, presenting the three models in a miniature representation scene of the Hastings pebble beach with active figurines in the foreground and backed by modelled white cliffs.

The snapshot image and the overall doctoral research considers the former British Small Craft display in terms of its geographical presentation of national and local identity, the cultural transference of knowledge from local regional areas to a national/international stage, their evocation of coastal and river landscapes, and their techniques of landscape/seascape miniaturisation. Now at the end of the doctoral project, this reflective snapshot paper will regard the study of these small model boats in terms of the co-productive knowledge-making nature of a Collaborative Doctoral Award shared between the Geography Department at Nottingham and the Science Museum London.
Austerity Orange? Using Worn Clothing to Narrate the Fabric of the City
Bethan Bide (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
The story of London has been told and retold countless times, continuously struggling to create a coherent narrative that speaks for the multiplicity of urban experience. In response, this snapshot looks to that which unites the physical place with its broad spectrum of inhabitants: clothing. Garments, viewed as a stitched medium through which we interact and make sense of our environment, offer a unique perspective on what it was like to live in a certain place and time. The existence of a pair of bright orange trousers, purchased at a London department store in 1946 and worn extensively throughout the late 1940s, challenges the prevailing image of austere drabness that usually represents the post-war city. These trousers exemplify the many surprising items in the Museum of London collections, and are used to open up discussions into the role of dress within geography, with particular focus on the material object.

How this presentation will use the snapshot:
Drawing on collaborative research with the Museum of London, this snapshot demonstrates how the material object can be used to create interdisciplinary dialogues. Firstly, the worn garment exemplifies the actions and routines of the lived body, seen in these worn hems, thick with pavement dirt. Secondly, and simultaneously, the garment can be used to open discussion and unlock memories in oral history research. Weaving together details of the fabric, stitching and wear with oral history evidence, the snapshot will be used to demonstrate how the material object can give us insight into broader cultural understanding without drowning out individual voices.
(Co)Produced ruralities - a topic for research and teaching in social and cultural geography
Christoph Baumann (Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany)
The picture above shows two representations of rurality. On the left there is the front page of a German Country Magazine called Landlust. This multithematic lifestyle magazine – which gives suggestions to the readers how to (re)produce their own ruralities – is one of the most astonishing phenomena in the German media scene in the past years. While sales figures of printed journals, magazines and newspapers are generally declining, Landlust is sold more and more (over 1 Million regular readers!). In my Ph.D.-project I am analyzing this produced rurality and try to explore the socio-spatiality of the rural in Germany.

On the right there is a screenshot of a student’s movie about rurality in the city. While I was conceptualizing a seminar about cultural geographies of the rural last semester I asked myself in which way I could prepare an educational framework to give the undergraduates an insight in topics like I am examining in my research project. Following activity-orientated teaching approaches I designed a concept in which the students are supposed to produce their own ruralities by making movies (with the additional support of an external film-maker).

In my snapshot-talk I will first give a literal insight in the country magazine (handing out some issues of Landlust) and discuss from a “more-than-representational” point of view how rurality is currently (co/re)produced in German society. Second I present a short montage of the movies (English subtitles), which were produced in my seminar in order to discuss how the topic “Produced ruralities” can be treated beyond conventional teaching approaches by “(Co/Re)Producing ruralities”.
Prayers, Waves, Reverberations: An audio engagement with phenomenal pilgrimage
Richard Scriven (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)
Using an audio clip of pilgrims praying in St Patrick’s Basilica on Lough Derg in northwest Ireland, I consider how the aural and acoustic induces, enhances and disorientates the phenomenal and spiritual experience of being a pilgrim. My research, informed by the mobilities field and nonrepresentational approaches, explores pilgrimage practices in contemporary Ireland. An audio recording taken during the Night Vigil on Lough Derg, where pilgrims stay awake for 24hrs fasting and praying barefoot on a lake island, captures a portion of the atmospheric and sensuous as they unfold. Drawing on my ethnographic fieldwork, I present the sounds and audio waves, which reverberate with meaning and experience, as being simultaneously created and received, embodied and asomatous, ethereal and material. Speculation on conceptual and practical approaches to and challenges for the use of audio are also offered.

My presentation centres on a continual playing of the audio clip, to generate suitable atmospherics, as I verbally offer context, comment and speculation. In foreground the use of audio, I shall build on the increasing role for audio, sound and the sonic in social and cultural geography.
Assembling mobile methods for Maritime Geographies: Initial reflections from the field
Emma Spence (Cardiff University, UK)

Until relativley recently it would have been reasonable to claim that the sea had been largely neglected by human geographers (as argued by Lambert et al, Peters 2010, and Mack 2011). However, a recent surge in geographical enquiries of the sea have re-centered geographical focus, away from a typically terrestrial focus and towards waterscapes (Anderson and Peters 2013: 4). As such it is no longer true to say that the sea is marginalized in human geography. The question now therefore is not why should we look at the sea, but how.
I use this video clip to introduce the specific example of superrich mobility at sea on board superyachts. In turn I identify and explore my main research themes of assemblage, mobilities, and relationality. I conclude with a discussion of my initial reflections of using a predominantly visual approach to mobile methods.
Health and Wellbeing Impacts associated with Participation in Grassroots Initiatives: lessons from Community Gardening Projects
Gwen Harvey (University of Exeter, UK)
The ways in which we define and understand the health and wellbeing of individuals across communities is gaining prominence within academics, policy makers and planning bodies within the UK and internationally. This emerging agenda is often contextualised by efforts to promote so-called sustainable communities through environmental initiatives, such as community gardening, which aim to link communal activities with individualised lifestyle preferences and behaviours. This paper will explore the ways in which health and wellbeing and intricately implicated in sustainable living initiatives and will outline an ethnographic study into community gardens in areas of social disadvantage in Plymouth, which aimed to explore and unpack health and wellbeing impacts occurring as a result of involvement within community gardens. The paper explores the ways in which a greater appreciation of sustainable living initiatives can promote health and wellbeing for individuals and across comunities.
Walking Wales
Amy Jones (Swansea University, UK)
“How better to truly appreciate the shape-and-soul of a nation?” (Baxter, 2011: 53)
My snapshot focuses on the physical act of walking the Wales Coast Path (WCP), a continuous path along the Welsh coastline. My research investigates ways experiences of the WCP are understood, felt and sensed through the bodily actions and performances of walking, shaping the people and places involved, considering walking in terms of both the representational and practical non-representational. The research coincides with the theme of co-production as it uses the WCP as a dynamic location for knowledge formation. The research involves walking interviews with participants whilst walking the WCP, accessing knowledge and understandings born through a lived and immediate experience of place. This prioritises the researcher being there and engaged in motion, seeking to understand the phenomenon. This could generate richer data if participants are prompted by meanings, connections and memories to the surrounding environment. This will generate collaborative knowledge creation between, researcher, participant and place.

The snapshot draws attention to the fact that for most people a coastal walk simply means a stroll along a sandy beach or a wander between two picturesque coastal villages. Yet in Wales you can now carry on walking, with no reason for stopping until you discover the shape of a nation. My snapshot focuses on mobility and the movement of people along the Wales Coast Path (WCP), particularly on the fact that it enables movement along the entire coastal perimeter of Wales. It concentrates on how being able to walk the coast of Wales may facilitate senses of cultural attachment, sense of place and belonging. It also considers how the nation is conceptualised though walking the WCP.