Away Days

Given I have been a little quiet on here recently I thought I’d provide both my excuses and information on the interesting things I have been getting up to that have inhibited my ability to find time to blog about what I really want to (there are several posts in draft stages). These extenuating circumstances essentially manifest themselves in some away days or academic mini-breaks.

The first was to the magnificent Gregynog Hall in mid-Wales for the utterly splendid Social and Cultural Geography Research Group’s Reading and Writing Weekend 2013. The premise of the weekend was for a heap of geographers to have read the same bunch papers that relate to different themes in Social and Cultural Geography, then to meet up and discuss them along with some workshops on writing Social and Cultural Geography. The weekend delivered on all of this and more (notably in the addition of excellent food, drinks and giant jenga!). All together we read 14 papers (available on this Pinterest board) that discussed the subjects of Identity and Interaction, Mobility and Migration, Pedagogy and Place, and Food and Sustainability. The discussions were incredibly interesting and useful, stemming partly from the broad range of geographers at the event – from Masters to Post-Doc and to Lecturers, incorporating international perspectives and those without a geography background.

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Social and Cultural Geographers at Gregynog Hall

There was an additional session on ‘Why Social and Cultural Geography?’ which attended to the nature of the sub-field and research group and then questioned the role of impact and relevance within geography more generally which was truly fascinating. The discussions inevitably went beyond the remit of Reading and Writing and we debated the methods, ethics and presentation of geography that all in all resulted in a really fantastic weekend. Huge thanks must go to Dr Sarah Mills and Dr Rhys Dafydd Jones for their role in organising the event, along with Dr Lucy Jackson and Prof. Pete Adey and all the inspiring geographers I met for the discussions and general good fun. I hope this will act as the inaugural event for an annual series of such weekends.

Read other accounts of the weekend by Richard Scriven (PhD Candidate University College, Cork) and Jonathan Kershaw (PhD Candidate Coventry University).

Three days after this ethusiam-inspiring weekend I was on the road again, this time to Preston for the 19th Annual Practising Historical Geography postgraduate and undergraduate conference. This event is a staple on the MA Cultural Geography calendar at RHUL and I joined 5 other MA students and 2 PhD students along with our brilliant mentor Dr Innes Keighren. After an interesting tour of England’s towns and cities courtesy of the overnight Megabus (London, Milton Keynes, Rugby, Loughborough. Leicester, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and Bolton if you wanted to know) I arrived in time for breakfast and the beginning of the conference at the University of Central Lancashire.

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RHUL cohort at the Practicing Historical Geography Conference

The first keynote lecture by Prof. Alan Rice discussed bringing historical geography to life through guerilla memorialisation and getting out and animating historical geography sites. A point that really resonated with me and was reinforced in a workshop by Dr Hannah Neate about Preston Bus Station and architectural enthusiasm. The other workshop of the day was by Dr Merle Patchett and regarded using artefacts as archive and what objects can tell us regarding historical practices – a highly intriguing workshop involving feathers and taxidermy. Once again the chance to meet other geography students and network was perhaps the highlight of the day and one I hope to repeat later this month as I attend the ESRC First Year Conference in Nottingham.

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