Daisy Nichols (University of Bristol) winner of the HPGRG 2020 Undergraduate Dissertation Prize

As the recently appointed Undergraduate Dissertation prize coordinator, I was initially uncertain as to what to expect from this new role. However, it has been an honour and a pleasure to take on this responsibility, to be given the opportunity to read students’ dissertations, collaborate with the HPGRG committee and liaise with geographers around the country.

The 2020 the RGS-IBG History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group (HPGRG) undergraduate dissertation prize award received a total of six submissions from Geography university departments around the U.K. 

The universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Durham, Nottingham, Bristol and Queen Mary’s University of London submitted final year undergraduates’ work.

In surveying the dissertations, a fascinating picture of the high standard of British Geography undergraduates’ work emerged. The submissions were impressive in the originality of their research, the creativity of their presentational methods, their subject matter and the reach of their theoretical ambitions. 

The projects variously covered a range of topics from the posthumanism of a sonic space, to the historical geographies of the Svalbard archipelago, exhibition displays of the Quai Branly ethnographic museum in Paris, guide dog and owner hybrid identities, and representations of the US landscape in the videogame Red Dead Redemption 2.

Each of the aforementioned studies taught the adjudicating panel much. The freshness of the voices that we read attests to both students’ individual efforts, but also to the inspiration engendered by their research and their teachers. 

This year the prize was awarded to Daisy Nichols (University of Bristol) for her dissertation titled, The micropolitics of filmmaking Otherwise: The Karrabing Collective. Daisy identified a gap in Geography’s visual preoccupations and gave us a dissertation which evidenced her ability to grapple with critical theory. Her study enriches our discipline by bringing the grassroots activism of the indigenous cinematic and media Karrabing Film Collective from Northwest Australia, with whom Professor Elizabeth Povinelli has collaborated over several decades, to geographers’ wider attentions. In doing so she affirms her, and the HPGRG’s belief, that we live in, and study, a world of many worlds. Daisy has given us permission to make her dissertation available to the public and it can be downloaded here. 

The research group committee wishes to thank all those who submitted dissertations by their students. It also wishes these talented young geographers the best of luck going forwards into further studies or work. We hope to hear, read and see more from each of you in future. 

Looking ahead, the committee would like to emphasize that the HPGRG Undergraduate Dissertation Prize is open to geographers writing in English, and who are based, not only in the U.K., but around the world. It is our sincere hope that next year will see submissions from a wider geographical range. 

If you have questions, or would like further information about the prize, please do not hesitate to contact the Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Coordinator, Dr Emily Hayes (Oxford Brookes University): ehayes@brookes.ac.uk.

                                                                                                                          Emily Hayes

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