RGS-IBG 2020 Call for Papers: Drawing the line. Theories and Practices of Boundary Delimitation in European and Colonial Territories (Eighteenth-Twentieth Century)

Organizers: Federico Ferretti (University College Dublin, federico.ferretti@ucd.ie), Jacobo García-Álvarez and Paloma Puente-Lozano (Universidad Carlos III, Madrid).


Recent geographical scholarship on territory, sovereignty and borders have pointed out the need for questioning and exposing in historical perspective a number of “myths” and “political fictions” embedded within modern state-making and its discursive and material makings. Within this theoretical framework, processes of boundary delimitation and demarcation have proved to be a particularly relevant locusfor examining the complex entanglements of modern conceptions and theories of territory, sovereignty and borders within practices of statehood.  This session aims at analyzing the complexities and variety of theories and practices of boundary-making across Europe and colonial territories from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, and how they related to wider assumptions about sovereignty and statehood. We are especially interested in hearing about comparative methodologies and transnational approaches that allow for overcoming typical shortcomings of nation-centered historiographies, as well as in exploring the multiscalar nature of these processes of border-making and the heterogeneity of the actors involved in them.

We welcome presentations that align with these themes in diverse ways. This might include, but is not limited to the following topics:

-Cultures and traditions of delimitation and boundary-making across European or colonized/decolonized countries: variety of delimitation criteria, different organization and composition of boundary commissions, work dynamics and procedures in boundary-delimitation, etc.

-The role of geographic descriptions, maps, land surveys and other types of geographical knowledge in boundary-making practices and theories.

-Dynamics among actors involved in boundary-making (such as local communities, states representatives, technical experts) and the interplay of their conflicting territorial visions.

– Historical transformations of state territoriality and sovereignty.

-Conceptions of border, territory and sovereignty as displayed in demarcation processes.

-Methodological and epistemic issues involved in doing research on the history of territory.

RGS-IBG 2020 Call for papers: Speculative Thinking

Organizers:  Nina Williams (UNSW Canberra, nina.williams@adfa.edu.au) and Thomas Keating (UNSW Canberra, thomas.patrick.keating@gmail.com))


Writing about the environmental, political, and financial catastrophes that define the first part of the C21st, philosophers Didier Debaise and Isabelle Stengers (2017) call for a new ‘speculative’ mode of thought capable of responding to a crisis of “lazy thinking”, “false problems” and a rising “inability to think that what we care about might have a future”. Today, destruction at different registers of the mental, social and environmental ecology demonstrate all too clearly that these crises of thought continue apace.

Against this backdrop, speculative thinking would be a call to develop a sense of openness – in the most expanded terms possible – to “what, in this situation, might be of importance” (Debaise & Stengers, 2017). Against convention, speculative thinking here would not be a call to think more ‘abstractly’ but would be an open question of how to take care of the alternative as the sense of possibility within a given situation.

This focus on speculation (see Woodward, 2016) comes at a time when Geography is developing exciting work into alternative and imperceptible registers of experience and ontology through notions of the elemental (McCormack, 2018), the pluriverse (Collard et al., 2015), encounter (Wilson, 2017), technological sense (Gabrys, 2019), post-humanism (Williams et al., 2019), post-phenomenology (Ash & Simpson, 2019), minor theory (Katz, 2017), and the micro-political (Sharpe, 2019). Parallel to this, a range of speculative interventions in philosophy and the social sciences offer different understandings of spacetimes and temporality beyond traditionally linear and successive modalities (Connolly, 2019; Savransky et al 2017).

In this session we are drawn to speculation as a response to the crisis of possibilities in an era of increasingly destructive governance and ecological degradation. Specifically, we are concerned with the speculative techniques and methods current environmental problems give rise to, the histories that shape and constitute a speculative perspective, and the technologies required to do speculatively thinking at a time when new questions are being asked about earthly collapse (Danowski & De Castro, 2017) and the “shifts in metaphysical assumptions” (Connolly, 2019, p.10) implied therein. We invite contributions that seek to engage in speculative modes of thinking, sensing and writing about the ecological world. These contributions may be interested in, but would not be limited to, the following:

  • Methods and (anti-)techniques for sensing and attuning to speculative forms of experience and ecological process;
  • Engagement with technologies and media for creating an expanded sensing, listening, perceiving, and attuning to the earth;
  • The role of speculative thought in the creation, contestation, and transgression of borders and borderlands;
  • The politics of speculation as a response to specific kinds of ecological problems e.g. the climate emergency, austerity politics, or the rise right-wing populisms;
  • Critical engagements with speculative philosophies, geographies and the question of abstraction;
  • Anti-, De- and Post-Colonial engagements with speculation and the question of who gets to speculate;
  • Conceptual work to speculate with creative processes at non-representational and micropolitical registers of thought;
  • Speculative geographical accounts of landscape, the future, digital space, and temporality.


RGS-IBG 2020, Call for papers: Friedrich Engels and Geography

Organizers: Camilla Royle (King’s College London, camilla.royle@kcl.ac.uk)


Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) was Karl Marx’s closest collaborator. Although mentioned less often than Marx in geographical discussions, he was an important theorist in his own right. With his pathbreaking work, The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845), he analysed the social drivers of poverty, ill health and environmental pollution in urban areas (Clark and Foster, 2006), concerns he returned to in his later work on housing (Larsen et al, 2016, Smith, 2008, p179). Influenced by the Chartist movement, the revolutions of 1848 and the Paris Commune he was a political organiser and journalist. His wide ranging work addressed science, anthropology, philosophy, military history and more (Hunt, 2010).

Engels worked closely with Marx, his economic thinking influenced Capitaland he edited the second and third volumes after Marx’s death. However, some have questioned whether Engels’ interpretation of Marxism gave it a deterministic, economistic or dualist slant alien to Marx’s own thought (Carver, 2003; Smith, 2008, pp34-5, 87). They have suggested that this was partly responsible for reformist and authoritarian versions of socialist practice in the 20thcentury.

This paper session takes the bicentenary of Engels’ birth as an opportunity to examine his contribution to geographical thinking today. Possible themes might include (but are not limited to):

  • Engels as a philosopher and as a Marxist
  • Geographies of workers’ and peasant struggles and revolutions
  • The housing question today
  • Engels on social epidemiology, health and urban life
  • Engels on women, gender and the family
  • Engels on science, nature and the environment
  • The relevance (or otherwise) of Engels to geography in the 21stcentury


Please send abstracts (maximum of 250 words) for a 15-20 minute paper presentation to Camilla.e.royle@kcl.ac.ukby 10 February. Include a proposed title and affiliation.

Skype presentations will be considered where scholars would find it difficult to attend in person – please email the organiser to discuss.

The NERFC fellowship

The Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library and the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education at the University of Southern Maine invite historical geographers, historians of cartography, and scholars working in related fields to apply for fellowships in the 2020–2021 New England Regional Fellowship Consortium (NERFC). The NERFC fellowship offers two dozen awards of $5000 to spend at least two weeks at three Consortium member institutions. The Leventhal and Osher collections, both NERFC member institutions, represent two of the most significant collections of cartographic material in New England, while many of the NERFC’s other 28 member institutions also hold cartographic and geographic objects in their collections. By developing a proposed NERFC itinerary at the Leventhal and Osher collections plus one additional member institution, scholars working at the intersection of geography and history will have an opportunity for a unique research opportunity.

More information: https://www.leventhalmap.org/nerfc-fellowship/  The deadline for applications is February 1, 2020.


History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group (HPGRG) Sponsored Sessions, RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2020, London

The History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group (HPGRG) invites suggestions for sponsored sessions at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2020 in London, Tuesday 1st to Friday 4th September 2020. The conference will focus on Borders, Borderlands and Bordering and will be chaired by Professor Uma Kothari.

We welcome suggestions for sessions across our remit, interpreted broadly, as the histories and/or philosophies of human geography, physical geography and associated fields.

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 Federico Ferretti, Secretary of HPGRG (federico.ferretti@ucd.ie), by Monday 6th January 2020

– title of proposed session, name of organizers, and abstract of c. 200-250 words

– indication of proposed format, e.g. papers or panel discussion, number of papers, use of discussants; for possibilities of session formats, see https://www.rgs.org/research/annual-international-conference/programme-(1)/guidance-for-session-organisers/

– number of 1h 40 minutes slots requested

– possible co-sponsorship with other research groups

We will inform session organizers about HPGRG sponsorship and further procedures by Friday 10th January 2020. The deadline for submitting complete sessions to HPGRG is Wednesday, 12 February 2020 for submission to the Society by Friday, 14 February 2020. This would leave about one month for session organisers to send out a call for papers and finalise the session programme.

Please direct any questions to Federico Ferretti (federico.ferretti@ucd.ie). Further details about the Annual Conference 2020 can be found at https://www.rgs.org/research/annual-international-conference/ and about HPGRG at http://hpgrg.org.uk/.

The HPGRG committee looks forward to your submissions!

2 HPGRG Bursaries available for the RGS Midterm conference, 30 Apr-1 May Glasgow

The HPGRG is happy to announce that we will sponsor two PhD students working in the History and Philosophy of Geography domain for the RGS  Midterm conference. The midterm is a great occasion to interact with peers in the British PhD community. More information at https://rgsmidterm2020.wordpress.com/bursaries/ , deadline for applications 14 Februari 2020 (apply on the link above). 

Call for papers : Bridging Differences: East, West, Seas and Mediterranean worlds. (34th International Geographical Congress, Istanbul 17-21 August 2020)

34th International Geographical Congress, Istanbul 17-21 August 2020

Joint CFP of the Commission History of Geography, the Commission Gender and Geography and the Commission Political Geography


Chair: Marcella Schmidt di Friedberg
Co-chairs: Virginie Mamadouh, Lynda Johnston

Call for papers:

For a long time, the categories of East, West, North and South have been used as both Cartesian coordinates and as metaphors assigning identities, often under the form of stereotypes, to people coming from different places. The successive waves of critical, radical, feminist, post/decolonial and non-representational geographies and geopolitics have increasingly questioned the essentialisation of identities deriving from these metaphors, especially criticising their use for imperialist, patriarchal, racist and reactionary political agendas, past and present. International geographical scholarship committed to these critical approaches urges us to substitute the absolute geographical metaphors mentioned above with the metaphor of ‘the bridge’. ‘The bridge’ valorises all kind of differences, as well as the decolonisation of geography by rendering it mostly inclusive (in terms of gender, ethnicity, social conditions and political/religious thought of people participating in the discipline). Further, the metaphor of ‘the bridge’ reconfigures the Mediterranean as a place of contacts and exchanges rather than a place for erecting walls, barriers or any kinds of enclosures. Interventions about other seas (and maybe deserts that function in a similar way) are also welcome. By assuming intersectional principles recognising that social, economic, political, religious, ethnic, speciesist, environmental and colonial forms of oppression are intrinsically linked the one to each other, the organisers of this joint session welcome all contributions that engage with the broad field of studies on critical, radical, anarchist, feminist, queer, intersectional, internationalist geographies. We welcome presentations that draw on critical social theory, critical race studies and socially and politically engaged scholarship, in general. The participation of non-

academic presenters such as activists and independent scholars, is especially encouraged.

Please send an abstract by 13 January 2020 following the instructions in the Conference website: https://www.igc2020.org/en/default.asp

For info: marcella.schmidt@unimib.it

Call for papers: IGU Thematic Conference Heritage Geographies: Politics, Uses and Governance of the Past, Lecce (Italy), May 29-31 2020

The IGU Commission History of Geography would like to draw attention to the following call for papers:


For this session, we welcome empirical or theoretical contributions that place heritage- related issues in the context of Mediterranean histories, cultures and circulations. The Mediterranean has disgracefully become a (disputed and violent) frontier, while in several historical periods it has been a “valley” putting different cultures in mutual communication and cross-pollination. These notions, which are expressed in a heterogeneous way, can be found in the works of classical geographers such as Carl Ritter and Elisée Reclus, of artists such as Paul Signac and Henri Matisse and leading 20th-century European intellectuals such as Paul Valéry, Albert Camus and Gilles Deleuze. More recently, similar ideas have returned in the ‘Southern Thinking’ by Franco Cassano and in the concept of multiple ‘Souths’ by the Latin American authors of the Modernity-Coloniality-Decoloniality movement. Contributions refreshing the relations between these lines of thought and debates on geography and heritage, tangible and intangible, would be greatly appreciated.

We would especially like to receive proposals on:

Decolonial thinking and geographies of the Souths
Southern thinking and postcolonial, decolonial and anticolonial approaches in geography and cognate disciplines
Southern thinking and decoloniality in their relation to feminism and gendered approaches
Mediterranean worlds and metaphors in geography
Historical geographies of Italy and other Mediterranean countries
Historical geographies and geopolitics of land and sea
Critical and radical geographies and their relations to heritage issues
Works and lives of geographers committed to intercultural dialogue, anti-racism and anti-colonialism
Geopoetics, artistic and literary geographies from/about the Souths
Geography and geophilosophy
Geographies of migration and culture’s meetings
Any other topic in the history and philosophy of geography
[Organisers: Marcella Schmidt di Friedberg and Federico Ferretti]

To submit your abstract, please follow the guidelines below and send it to



When submitting your abstract, please include:
• Submitter’s contact details (Full first and family name(s), email, phone number, country)
• Presenting author’s and co-Authors’ details (Full first and family name(s), postal address, mail)
• Affiliation details: Institution/Company/University, city, country
• Abstract type: poster or oral
• Session number
• Abstract title
• Abstract text: the abstract should not exceed 2500 characters spaces included
• Keywords: up to 5 keywords may be provided


Deadline: 31st December 2019 Acceptance: 31st January 2020

For info : federico.ferretti@ucd.ie

HPGRG Dissertation Prize 2019 Announced

We are delighted to announce that the dissertation prize panel recommended a joint award of the prize to two dissertations of exceptionally high quality. The joint winners of this year’s prize are Olivia Russell (University of Edinburgh) and Mitchell Wilson (University of Bristol).

Olivia Russel’s dissertation, Geography, Cartography and Military Intelligence: Gertrude Campbell’s Cartographic Work for the Royal Geographical Society in 1913 to 1918, is a study of archival material relating to the life and cartographic work of Gertrude Bell, focusing on her contributions to military intelligence in World War I through cartographic work in ‘Arabia’. The work presents a nuanced, multiple understanding of Bell and her activities. Empirical chapters are structured through three key themes (informed by a critical engagement with literature) and demonstrate keen attention to detail in the use of evidence and construction of arguments. Overall, the dissertation draws on a great range of primary source material from the archives of the RGS, using these to consider issues around both colonialism and the role of women in the production of geographical knowledge. It thus responds to very contemporary questions about structural issues within the discipline. This is a standout dissertation addressing the history of geography, which adds to calls for the inclusion of ‘all marginalised knowledges’ within a critical historiography of the discipline.

Mitchell Wilson’s dissertation, Expanding the Empirical Repertoire of Non-Representational Theory Through a Methodological Reflection on Creating a Documentary Film, presents a theoretically sophisticated discussion of Geography’s relation to film-making, and takes direction from a range of multi-disciplinary work (including non-representational theory and visual culture), making new connections between them. It then embarks on the production of a documentary film to demonstrate how film-making techniques can be used to engineer affect, thus moving beyond ‘critique’ to become productive. The documentary, which is very thoughtfully curated and presented, explores the art and subversive qualities of drag through the performances of Ty Jeffries. This is then used to explore the nature of ‘hope’ in the Anthropocene: a discussion which simultaneously seems somewhat tangential and yet in keeping with the “ephemerality and transitory nature” of the research. Overall the work is remarkable in its level of sophisticated and critical engagement with literature; in its care and attention to detail; and in its sensitivity. It forms an important contribution to discussions around videographic geographies, presenting astute readings of Spinoza to think hope as ‘unsteady joy’.

Committee changes following the AGM

We have a number of out-going committee members following the most recent AGM.

The Chair, Heike Jöns, thanked Pauline Couper for her exemplary work as HPGRG Undergraduate Prize Coordinator over two terms from 2013 to 2019. She also thanked Thomas Jellis for having built up the new HPGRG website and Twitter account and for looking after these with great commitment and dedication from 2013 to 2019.

The Research Group welcomed Emily Hayes to the committee as Undergraduate Prize Coordinator and, following some discussion, the  role of Website Editor will now be merged with that of the Communications Officer (Michiel Van Meeteren).

We hope to appoint a Postgraduate Liaison Officer in the near future.

This is the website for the History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group (HPGRG) of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG)