HPGRG Dissertation Prize 2017 Announced

We are delighted to announce that Hope Steadman (University of Birmingham)  has won the dissertation prize for 2017. The empirical research  was described as being particularly thorough by the committee. Hope has allowed us to reproduce her dissertation – “The Neoliberalisation and Responsibilisation of Flood Risk Management in Swindon, UK.” – on our website.




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 federico.ferretti@ucd.ie and h.jons@lboro.ac.uk by Friday, 29 September 2017. For more details on the International Conference of Historical Geographers in Warsaw from 15-20 July 2018, see http://ichg2018.uw.edu.pl/.


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: http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/ges/researchandimpact/postgraduate/#/ 

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 (Hayden.Lorimer@glasgow.ac.uk).

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 (c.w.j.withers@ed.ac.uk) 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 (c.fleet@nls.uk) or Alison Metcalfe (a.metcalfe@nls.uk).


Newsletter relaunched!

Our relaunched newsletter is now available to read! Here’s an excerpt:

It might seem odd to (re)launch a newsletter in an era where so many other forms of electronic communication are available. The HPGRG already uses a twitter account (@HPGRG_RGS), our website (https://hpgrg.org.uk/) and our mailing list to advertise the activities of the group and its members. However, there is often something quite ephemeral about such mediums; twitter feeds tend tick over at an unrelenting pace and emails are often deleted or archived not to be looked at again. As such, with our ‘new’ newsletter we’d like to give a little bit more permanence to things, hold them in place to be looked back on on occasion. We’d like it both to act as a means of communicating the work the group is doing now but also keeping a record of this that can be looked back on.

Part of the inspiration to do so came from the discovery of a batch of old newsletters (from 1995-2003) by a previous member of the committee (John Wylie) which were handed to Sam Kinsley, our current Treasurer. These provided an insight into the past of the committee, a past which dates from before many of the current committee’s academic careers. And from the notes from conferences, calls for papers, and other accounts included in those newsletters, insights into the concerns of the discipline from that time (concerns that have by no means gone away) come through in very interesting ways.

Our collection of newsletters, scanned and uploaded, are available to browse here.

Call for Sessions: RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2017

The History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group (HPGRG) invites suggestions for 12 sponsored sessions at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017 in London from 30 August to 1 September 2017. The conference theme is “Decolonising geographical knowledges: opening geography out the world” and will be chaired by Professor Sarah Radcliffe.

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 Secretary Isla Forsyth and HPGRG Chair Paul Simpson by 16 January 2017:

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)

We will inform session organizers about HPGRG sponsorship and further procedures in mid-January. The deadline for submitting complete sessions to the Society is 17 February 2017. This would leave about five weeks for session organisers to send out a call for papers and finalise the session programme.

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 newsletter.

The HPGRG committee looks forward to your submissions.

HPGRG Dissertation Prizes (2015 and 2016) Announced

We are delighted to announce the dissertation prizes for 2015 and 2016.

Kirsty Matthews (Durham University) won the prize in 2015 for her dissertation “Mattering the Mind: Subjectivity and Not Knowing Within Obsessive Compulsive Disorder”, which was described as a most impressive piece of work.

Mirjami Lannto (University of Glasgow) won the prize this year, for her outstanding research on “Experiencing River Landscapes: the Affective Capacity of Landscapes and its Potential in Environmental Management”. She has granted us permission to reproduce her dissertation on the site. In addition, Samuel Nutt (Durham University) received a commendation for his dissertation, “The Anxieties of Empire in Byron’s Turkish Tales: Exploring the Potential of Fiction in Postcolonial Geography”.

Congratulations to our winners. The list of past prizes can be found here.

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