RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017

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174 New and Emerging Research within Geographies of Health and Wellbeing (2)
Affiliation Geographies of Health and Wellbeing Research Group
Convenor(s) Sarah Bell (University of Exeter, UK)
Samuel Strong (University of Cambridge, UK)
Gareth Griffith (University of Bristol, UK)
Chair(s) Samuel Strong (University of Cambridge, UK)
Timetable Thursday 31 August 2017, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Room Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Room 119
Session abstract This new and emerging session involves presentations from postgraduates and early career researchers who are actively engaged in current and emerging theoretical or methodological innovations in the field of geographies of health and wellbeing.

‘Geographies of health and wellbeing’ is intended to cover a broad spectrum of research and the range of topics relating to health, wellbeing, illness and impairment with the aim of bringing together current and emerging themes, issues and approaches. Papers will also link to other areas of geographical thought and practice, such as emotional, social, environmental and cultural geographies.
Linked Sessions New and Emerging Research within Geographies of Health and Wellbeing (1)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2017@rgs.org
Measuring nature’s impact on health: A volunteering case study
Valentine Seymour (University College London / Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) Research Group, UK)
During the past four decades, there has been an exponential growth in literature and empirical research exploring nature’s benefits on human health and wellbeing. In response to this growing awareness, there has been a gradual rise in the numbers of programmes aimed to help improve human health and the environment. Environmental volunteering activities are an example of this. However, further understanding is needed to explore to what extent these organisations deliver health and wellbeing impacts through their activities. This is particularly important if outcome data is to affect learning, provide information to key constituencies and enable programmes to be managed effectively as well as contribute to the volunteer sector. The current study is aimed to explore what extent do environmental volunteering organisations deliver health and wellbeing impacts through their activities, using The Conservation Volunteers as a case study. It uses a mixed method approach to understanding their existing health impact measurement tool, green exercise programmes as well as the impacts these have had on volunteer’s health and wellbeing.
Affective spaces, and urban gardening places. The role of food, body and place on mental health in the city
Senjuti Manna (University of Reading, UK)
Richard J. Nunes (University of Reading, UK)
Aileen Ho (University of Reading, UK)
In recent years, there has been a growing realisation across health geography scholarship that ‘place matters’ to health and health care; that where individuals live, work, socialize, and how they use and experience their environments, have far-reaching health implications. This has accompanied a long-standing attention to health, and urban planning and design practice, including but not limited to activated urban green spaces that encourage physical activity and social interaction. These are representational spaces that have been rationalised in policy terms and scientifically evidenced.
This increasing attention to healthy places encounters a number of stumbling blocks when accounting for causal mechanisms, including debates over the neighbourhood effects of quality urban environments on mental health. While the relevance of quality built environment and access to green spaces on mental health remains unclear and difficult to determine, in this paper we argue that affective spaces, of everyday emotions in, and perceptions of urban places are vastly under-explored in neighbourhood research.
Building on the work of Andrews et al (2014), we draw upon nonrepresentational theory and nonrepresentational geographies to explore the role of affective spaces on the mental health outcomes of urban gardening. We address a number of methodological challenges surrounding the interconnectedness of food, body and place on mental health in the city. Utilizing a case study from Reading, UK, this paper will discuss the use of a visual participatory method alongside other traditional methods, and its implications for the research nonrepresentational geographies of health.
All Right?: A proactive approach to community wellbeing after disaster
Kris Vavasour (New Zealand Broadcasting School at Ara Institute of Canterbury, New Zealand)
Dealing with change wrought by disaster is stressful and unpredictable, and has been shown to have long-term impacts on physical and mental health that can last – or occur – long after the disaster itself is considered to be over. After a series of devastating earthquakes destroyed or damaged large swathes of the central city and some suburban areas of Christchurch, New Zealand, a taskforce was created to address the psycho-social needs of local residents. The All Right? campaign provides supportive, consistent, evidence-based messages to help Cantabrians be better able to deal with the stresses and difficulties of living in a broken city.

The lack of previous long-term, co-ordinated examples in similar post-disaster situations means the All Right? team is forging a new path in taking a sustained, proactive approach to the mental and physical health of the local community after disaster. Adopting the ‘five ways to mental wellbeing,’ identified in the Foresight Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project (2008), the team have used existing evidence and research to inform a variety of information campaigns and provide opportunities for activity and enjoyment. Recovery after disaster is not just about getting the roads fixed and infrastructure rebuilt, it is also about what sustains the soul on both an individual and community level. This presentation will show how the colourful and creative All Right? campaign has helped local residents recognise and activate their own coping mechanisms during these trying times.
Museopathy: cross-disciplinary approaches to the role of museums in supporting health, wellbeing and recovery
Nuala Morse (The University of Manchester / University College London, UK)
Linda Thomson (University College London, UK)
Helen Chatterjee (University College London, UK)
A significant body of literature has begun to explore the therapeutic dimensions of museums and galleries, including the healing role of museum objects, practices and spaces. Chatterjee, Vreeland and Noble (2013) introduce this potential as ‘museopathy’. This paper seeks to expand and elucidate this concept with reference to interdisciplinary literatures addressing materiality and wellbeing in the museum. To articulate the role of museums in terms of health and wellbeing, researchers have drawn upon a range of theoretical perspectives and methodologies from health, social sciences, and the arts and humanities. These have included qualitative approaches drawing on the symbolic significance of collections for personal expression, and quantitative approaches using clinical measures to demonstrate specific psychological, physical and physiological outcomes of museum encounters. This paper will explore the current disciplinary approaches to this field of research, which have broadly emerged in museum studies and in arts for health work informed by psychology. It will consider how approaches taken specifically from emotional geography and the geographies of care have the potential to further enliven these discussions, highlighting the museum as a new site of interest for geographical enquiry. Rather than merely framing discussion in terms of epistemological binaries (clinical science/rationality versus art/experience), connections between cross-disciplinary perspectives and methodologies are explored with a view of proposing a hybrid position for Museopathy. This argument is presented through the brief case study of a current research project entitled ‘Not So Grim Up North’.
Reflections on the therapeutic potential of the research interview
Annabelle Edwards (Lancaster University, UK)
Through my research into experiences of ‘therapeutic’ spaces and activities, I have had the privilege of experiencing these myself, and also of engaging with others; inviting individuals who have participated alongside me to contribute through narrative interviews. In these interviews I have learnt enormous amounts about people’s lives, and about their personal and spiritual journeys. These interactions have been held together with powerful affective atmospheres, through which senses of importance, humanity, transformation, and trust, have resonated. In this paper, I consider the composition of these interview encounters, in affective, embodied, and emotional, terms, and offer some initial observations into how, rather than being isolated events, these interactions have been satellites for the initial experiences. I suggest that the interviews themselves have been ‘therapeutic’ activities, re-connecting myself and participants with positive experiences, and encouraging self-reflection and the sharing of stories.

This paper draws on the therapeutic landscapes concept (Gesler, 1992; 1993; 1996), understandings of affective atmospheres (Highmore and Bourne Taylor, 2006; Stewart, 2011; Edensor, 2012), as well as non-representational theory and phenomenology (Ash and Simpson, 2016; Lea 2009)