Flows, Doings, Edges: writing a ‘relational’ PhD

HPGRG Postgraduate symposium, 28 August 2007

Cultural geography, and in particular the study of nature/society interactions, has undergone something of a ‘relational turn’ in recent years. Although there has been much theoretical innovation and growing empirical diversity, rather less attention has been paid to the implications of ‘relationality’, in its many guises, to research practice.

In August 2007, the Geography Department at Kings College London hosted a postgraduate symposium entitled Flows, Doings, Edges: writing a ‘relational’ PhD. The morning discussion focused on the general challenges of relational thinking to traditional research design, and was facilitated by Jeannette Pols, from the University of Amsterdam. In the afternoon attendees shared some of their own particular challenges and ideas.

The symposium had a strong inter-disciplinary flavour, with 35 attendees from Sociology, Management Studies, Environment Studies and Geography departments across the UK and Europe. Overall the day was a success in cultivating the beginnings of a relational PhD research community, and a larger follow-up event is planned for late 2008.

Flows, doings, edges was jointly organised by Uli Beisel (Open University), Franklin Ginn (Kings Collge London) and Michaela Spencer (Lancaster University). It was funded by the Kings College Roberts Skills Fund and the RGS-IBG History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group.

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