Two new committee roles

The HPGRG AGM will take place in Cardiff at this year’s RGS-IBG Annual Conference (provisionally) on Wednesday 29th August 13.10-14.25. In advance of that we are now inviting individuals to express their interest in two committee roles that will become available at the AGM as the current role holders’ terms come to an end. We are looking for a new Chair and a new Secretary for the committee. These positions are both three-year appointments in the first instance, with the possibility of standing for a further three years at the end of that term. Please note, for the positions of Chair and Secretary candidates must be Fellows of the RGS-IBG.

Nominations for election should be made via e-mail to the current Secretary Isla Forsyth and include details of two nominators (which will be verified prior to the AGM). Nominators need not be Fellows/Members of the RGS-IBG or be existing HPGRG committee members.

Nominations must be made by Monday 13th August 2018.

If you have any questions about either role please contact Paul Simpson (current Chair) and / or Isla Forsyth (current Secretary).

Best wishes,
Paul Simpson



Submissions for Dissertation Prize 2018

The History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group, in conjunction with SAGE Geography, is pleased to offer an Undergraduate Dissertation Prize for the best dissertation in the histories and/or philosophies of geography. We welcome nominations addressing the history of the discipline, philosophy of the discipline, and/or geographical knowledge, discourses and practices across academic, public and/or private spheres. The winner will receive a prize of £50 and a year’s free subscription to their choice of Progress in Human Geography or Progress in Physical Geography, and have their dissertation published on the HPGRG website. The dissertation should have been completed within the past two years and be written in English. We welcome nominations not only from the UK but also from other countries. Depending on the number and quality of submissions, the prize may not be awarded every year. Please direct all questions and submit an electronic copy of the dissertation (PDF format) with your letter of recommendation and the candidate’s contact details to Dr Pauline Couper. As far as possible, please provide a non-university email account for the candidate as contact will likely happen after their graduation.

Deadline: 13 July

Past winners can be found here.

Call for Sessions: RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2018

The History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group (HPGRG) invites suggestions for 12 sponsored sessions at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018 in Cardiff. The conference theme is “Geographical landscapes / changing landscapes of geography” and will be chaired by Professor Paul Milbourne.

We welcome suggestions for sessions across our remit, interpreted broadly, as the histories and/or philosophies of human geography, physical geography and associated fields. We particularly welcome session proposals that seek to engage with geography’s theoretical and philosophical underpinnings, past, present, and future.

HPGRG sponsorship can provide promotion for your session, help manage timetabling clashes, and enable bidding for funding for research group guests and awards for postgraduate presenters in your sessions.

Please send the following information to HPGRG Chair Paul Simpson by 15 January 2018:

title of proposed session (up to 15 words), name and affiliation of organizers, and abstract of c. 200-300 words;

– indication of proposed format (e.g. papers or panel discussion, number of papers, use of discussants; for possibilities of session formats, see here);

number of 1h 40 minutes slots requested (note, sessions may not normally occupy more than two timeslots and co-sponsorship with other research groups will only be offered where there is a compelling case for such an arrangement.

We will inform session organizers about HPGRG sponsorship and further procedures by the end of January. The deadline for submitting complete sessions to the Society is 16 February 2018.

Please note that any sessions sponsored by the HPGRG will require the session organizers to provide a short (200-300 word) summary of what happened in their sessions for inclusion in the HPGRG Autumn 2018 newsletter.

The HPGRG committee looks forward to your submissions.

Crossing the boundaries of knowledge: historical geographies of mobility, circulation, and transculturalism

Call for Papers – International Conference of Historical Geographers

Warsaw, 15-20 July 2018

Crossing the boundaries of knowledge: historical geographies of mobility, circulation, and transculturalism

A considerable part of the geographical tradition has been constructed around national schools of thought, academic institutions, and intellectual discourses. A prominent line of research in the histories of geography thus addresses the institutionalisation and nature of these ‘national geographies’, focusing on the 19th and 20th centuries. Even contemporary geographical scholarship is organised in mostly nationally-orientated associations and evolves around networks shaped by linguistic and cultural affinity. Drawing upon recent research on the mobilities of knowledge and the geographies of internationalism, this session explores practices that have transgressed the multiple boundaries of knowledge and technologies through mobilities, encounters and exchanges, translations, and various forms of transculturalism in order to understand how these have shaped the construction, circulation, reception, and use of geographical knowledge over the past centuries.

Many studies have addressed the importance of multilingualism and the practice of crossing national and linguistic borders for early definitions of ‘modern’ geography, for instance in the case of Alexander von Humboldt. The constitutive nature of an international and multilingual dimension has also begun to be reconstructed for the intellectual circuit of the anarchist geographers Elisée Reclus, Pyotr Kropotkin, and Lev Mechnikov. Far less is known about the wider mobilities and networks of individuals producing, translating, and transforming geographical knowledges from the analytical perspective of formal academic infrastructures, such as different disciplines, institutions, publications, and events, and how the international and interdisciplinary exchanges these facilitated contributed to the formation and change of knowledge centres and their networks; transcultural experiences and epistemic communities; as well as geographical and other knowledges and imaginations within and beyond the academy.

We are particularly interested in studies examining how knowledges crossed national, cultural, linguistic, and even disciplinary boundaries, and what kind of empowerments, challenges, and impacts emerged from this for those beings, matters, and meanings involved. To this end, we welcome especially (but not exclusively) contributions on:

  • Historical geographies of transnational practices in intellectual history
  • Biographical and bibliographical approaches to geographers whose work was characterised by international, transnational, or multilingual approaches
  • Historical geographies of academic and scholarly mobilities
  • The experience of exile in the production of geographical knowledge
  • Historical geographies of social and cultural difference, including language, cultural practices, gender, and race
  • Transculturation in mapping, e.g. the inclusion of indigenous knowledge
  • Historical geographies of reception and translation, both linguistic and cultural, questioning the concept of ‘true translation’
  • Geography and multilingualism
  • Historical geographies of the international circulation of books and printed journals
  • Geography and transculturalism
  • Historical geographies of internationalism
  • Historical geographies of mobile knowledges and technologies

Please send an abstract of 200-250 words (for a paper of c. 15-20 minutes) to and by Friday, 29 September 2017. For more details on the International Conference of Historical Geographers in Warsaw from 15-20 July 2018, see


A history of geography through books

Clive Barnett ruminates on the ways we might chart through ‘old books’  the making of human geography, and its particular concern for space not as a residual but as a central concern to social science:

Originally posted on Pop Theory: It’s sad, I know, but one of my favourite places is the Bookbarn, in Somerset on the road from Bristol to Wells. It is, as the name suggests, a big barn full of old books (my partner refuses to ever come along with me, because the smell of second-hand books…

via Geography Books — Progressive Geographies

Details of two AHRC studentships: “The Art of Earth-Building” and “Engineering ‘Modern’ Scotland”

We have had two AHRC studentships circulated in the past week. Details for each can be found below.


Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded PhD studentship (3.5 yrs full-time), which will examine the place of relief models in modern geography. The studentship is in collaboration with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and makes use of the Society’s collections. The award is made by the ‘Science Museums & Archives Consortium’, which is part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme.

Due to begin in October 2017, the project will be supervised by Professor Hayden Lorimer and Dr Simon Naylor (University of Glasgow) and Dr Catherine Souch (RGS-IBG).

The Studentship

The studentship will develop a historical geography of the relief model as a key component of modern geographical research and teaching, making use of a unique set of solid plasterwork models held in the RGS collections, as well as establishing the extent and health of a dispersed “archive” of surviving relief models in British university geography departments and schools today. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the relief model developed alongside a repertoire of techniques for diagrammatic, photographic and cartographic reproduction. The project will examine relief models as an educational and instructional aid, on display in universities and school classrooms, used variously to: illustrate the emergence (and denudation) of surface landforms; explain the nature of geophysical, hydrological, fluvial and coastal processes; reveal subsurface geological structures; and, show differing kinds of human response to environmental setting. Through a combination of archival research, biographical inquiries and material culture studies, the project will place geographical relief models, and the unheralded work of the relief modeler and commercial supplier, amid wider cultures of popular science and pedagogy. During the course of the studentship, there will be opportunities within the public programmes of the RGS-IBG to present and display emerging research to public audiences.

For a full project description, see: 

How to Apply

Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree in Geography, History, History of Science, or other relevant discipline, and, a Masters-level degree that satisfies AHRC eligibility requirements for advanced research training; or equivalent professional/occupational experience. Preference may be given to candidates with prior experience of working with museum collections and material culture, though this is not an essential for application.

Applicants should submit:

(i) a two-page curriculum vitae, including contact details of one academic referee

(ii) a sample of academic writing (approx. 2000-3000 words in length)

(iii) a 1-2 page letter outlining your suitability for the studentship to:

Professor Hayden Lorimer,

School of Geographical and Earth Sciences,

University of Glasgow,

Glasgow G12 8QQ


Closing Date: Monday 20th March 2017.

Interviews are scheduled to take place at the University of Glasgow on Tuesday 18th April 2017.

For further information concerning the project, please contact:

Hayden Lorimer (

For further information about RGS-IBG collaborative doctoral research go to

For further information about PhD research in Geographical and Earth Sciences at University of Glasgow go to:




Collaborative Doctoral Partnership PhD: Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded PhD studentship for research on the Stevenson maps and plans and Scotland’s built infrastructure, c.1800-c.1900. The award, which is made by the Scottish Cultural Heritage Consortium as part of the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Programme, will be managed jointly by the University of Edinburgh (Institute of Geography) and the National Library of Scotland, The studentship, which is full-time and funded for 3.5 years, will begin in October 2017 and will be jointly supervised by Christopher Fleet and Alison Metcalfe (National Library of Scotland) and Professor Charles W. J. Withers (University of Edinburgh). Part-time applications are welcome.

The Studentship: The PhD project centres on the maps and plans within the business archive of the Stevenson civil engineering firm. Robert Stevenson and descendants played a significant role in a range of civil engineering projects across Scotland. The archive reflects that activity. The archive includes in excess of 3,000 maps and plans, supported by correspondence, reports, accounts and other business records, and reflects the broad range of civil engineering endeavours with which the firm was involved (sea-works, harbours, canals, river-courses, railways, and, importantly, lighthouses). The maps and plans of this built infrastructure have received almost no scholarly attention. They together provide a rich opportunity for understanding the geography and history of a fast modernising nation – Scotland in the nineteenth century. During the studentship, there will be opportunities within the NLS to enhance the Library’s collections and digital strategy and to work with the NLS public programmes to engage public audiences.

How to Apply: Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree and a relevant Masters in geography, or history (economic and social), or politics. You will have some experience of relevant research methods (NB: research training is a required element in each year of the studentship). For details on eligibility criteria, including UK residency, applicants should check the AHRC website.

Applicants should submit a summary curriculum vitae (max 2 pages), an example of recent academic writing (e.g., MSc chapter or UG Dissertation) and a short statement (1 page) outlining your qualification for the studentship, and the names and contact details of two academic referees to: Professor Charles W. J. Withers, Institute of Geography, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Drummond Street, Edinburgh EH8 9XP ( by Friday 7 April 2017. Interviews will be held on Wednesday 3 May 2017. For further information, contact Professor Charles W. J. Withers, Chris Fleet ( or Alison Metcalfe (


The website for the Royal Geographical Society's History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group