RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018

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306 Innovative Methods in Geographical Research (2)
Affiliation Postgraduate Forum
Convenor(s) Jo Hickman Dunne (Loughborough University, UK)
Chair(s) Jo Hickman Dunne (Loughborough University, UK)
Timetable Friday 31 August 2018, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Room Glamorgan Building - Seminar Room -1.56
Session abstract Research and geographical methods are constantly evolving in response to everchanging and pressing global issues of which geographers place themselves at the forefront. Moreover, to produce world leading and internationally recognised research, as measured by the Research Excellence Framework (REF), geographers are having to devise new creative and innovative methods through which to conduct research. This includes that which is integrative and interdisciplinary, as well as participatory in nature (Clifford et al. 2016). In recent years and in different fields of geography, the landscape of geographical inquiry has evolved and new methods have been developed. As such, we particularly welcome papers which engage with untraditional methods, and those which provide a fresh perspective on geographical methodologies.

This session will take a traditional conference format, offering time for presentations and questions from the audience. Presenters will have 15 minutes to present their paper followed by 5 minutes of questions from the audience. Presenters are encouraged to explore different mediums of presentation, such as videos and interactive demonstrations of methods, where appropriate.
Linked Sessions Innovative Methods in Geographical Research (1)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: ac2018@rgs.org
Co-creating the city
Andrea Stultiens (Hanze University Groningen / Independent Photographer and Researcher, The Netherlands)
Bettina van Hoven (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
This paper addresses the in- and exclusivity of, and of (in-)visibilities in the city for people with physical impairment by drawing on a participatory student research project. Students at the University College Groningen collaborated with students from the Art Academy Minerva and clients at the Noorderbrug, an organisation that provides housing and care for people with acquired brain injuries. The project entailed some specific challenges of communication (e.g. Sometimes mediated by eye-tracking speech computers) and rhythms and mobilities, yet the research teams (with members of each of the above institutions) were encouraged to explore and experience the city together. Their journeys were documented using visual methods and these visuals (photos and sometimes video) formed the basis of a public exhibition both at the Noorderbrug and the University College. In this exhibition, the research teams convey a sense of in- and exclusivities, of (in)visibilities, of difference and sameness through presentations, representations and experiential, interactive exhibits. The paper will largely focus on the process, co-creation, relationships and impact.
A geopoetic exploration of the Matinha vacant land, Lisbon
Daniel Paiva (Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal)
Eduardo Brito-Henriques (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
Our purpose in this communication is to present an exploration of the Matinha vacant land in Lisbon. Initially a sonic exploration, this endeavour would turn to the figure of the natural cyborg, an almost silent formation that thrives in the site, in the form of vegetal-technological hybrids.

We have explored the presence of these natural cyborgs through the creation of a geopoetic photographic and audio short novel on the Matinha site, where a gas factory operated since 1944. The factory was partially demolished in 2007, but some of the buildings remain, along with four gasometers. Since its demolition, the Matinha site has been closed to the public, but its fences and gates have been illegally opened at times. In the last ten years, the landscape of the Matinha site was slowly transformed by the appropriation of various agents: homeless people, graffiti artists, photographers, urban explorers, water, several animal and vegetation species. The greater part of such agents left easily recognisable traces in the landscape, or is indeed a part of it. Among these appropriations, some hybrid entities seem to have sprout: bindweeds entangled in mechanical ruins, Alamo tress growing in manholes, or fig trees thriving near tar roads. These natural cyborgs are now providing shelter to a number of living beings.

After a brief presentation of the short novel, we will discuss how this geopoetic approach allowed us to grasp and communicate certain processes of the Matinha site that escaped capture in previous studies done by social, cultural and biogeographers.
Experineces with Q-method in analyzing diverse motivations and experiences in regional transitoin practices
Jan-Tobias Doerr (Université du Luxembourg, Luxembourg)
During the past 30 years, several grassroots initiatives have emerged in the Luxemburgish canton Redingen. These are regarded as progressive for the national context, and have often entered the political mainstream on community level. A case study analyzed the emergence and correlation of a regional currency, energy autonomy programs, cooperative agriculture, and others.

In dissonance with literature on intentional groups carrying out grassroots innovation, exploratory research identified heterogeneous and at times divergent motivations amongst participants within the initiatives. The study therefore explored these social perspectives, and characterized the regional transition as a social learning process of participants aligning them in practice.

The presentation will introduce a research design based on assumptions of site ontology and symbolic interactionism. Participants’ perspectives on initiatives were explored with q-methodology. For this mixed method approach, about 15 participants within each initiative were asked to sort 48 statements, representing motivations and experiences, in a bell curve (most agree – most disagree). For each initiative, natural statements were chosen and developed along the framework of Leitbildanalyse (future projections, group de-synchronization, selfreferential motifs). Factor analysis generated 2 – 3 typified social perspectives on the respective initiative. Focus groups served to validate findings and explore how participants align diverse interests in practice.

The presentation will discuss the potential of q-method to explore the elusive but crucial realm of meanings, visions and understandings in site ontology, which is gaining increasing currency in geographic research.
Geodesign: a Participaotry Process for the Epression of Environmental Values?
Matt Kuniholm (University of Maryland, USA)
Is geodesign – “changing geography by design” (Steinitz 2012) – a participatory process? If so, what role might geodesign have as a participatory action research technique? This paper considers these questions in light of an ongoing participatory action research case study involving the use of a geodesign approach to land management and park planning. The case study is located on a 750-acre (303-hectare) site of historical, spiritual and environmental significance adjacent to the Potomac River in Maryland, USA. In 2014, the State of Maryland created a State Park on land previously owned by the Jesuit Order of the Catholic Church and still home to an active parish of the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. An update to the park management plan is needed in order to accommodate the land management interests of the Church, which is now entirely surrounded by the park. In a context of conflicting environmental values and contrasting land management goals, can a participatory geodesign approach to park planning bring stakeholders together to create an actionable park management plan? This paper shares lessons learned from the case study and discusses the challenges and opportunities associated with the use of geodesign as a participatory action research technique.
A symmetry-driven approach to pattern analysis regarding environmental systems
Cristian Suteanu (Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Canada)
Symmetry characteristics of complex space-time patterns have major implications for our capacity to discern relevant features of the analyzed environmental systems. Therefore, performing an accurate evaluation of symmetry properties associated with the landscape of system dynamics can be particularly useful. This paper shows that pattern analysis procedures can move beyond this initial descriptive level and reach deeper levels of insight by producing targeted changes to key aspects of symmetry. Certain symmetry transformations are capable of opening up new levels of description, enhancing our access to otherwise hidden features of the studied system. The paper presents such an approach to environmental system analysis, which incorporates controlled changes concerning symmetry aspects in spatial and temporal data. Application examples include patterns of atmospheric variability and natural hazards.