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# Department of Geography Annual Report 2015-16

Department of Geography Annual Report 2015-16

We are pleased to announce that the Department's Annual Report for 2015-16 is now online.

The report contains an overview of Departmental activities across teaching, research and technical and information services.

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# New book: 'Seeing Like a City', Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift

New book: 'Seeing Like a City', Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift

The Department's 1931 Professor Ash Amin has published his latest work, Seeing Like a City, co-authored by Sir Nigel Thrift.

The book argues that: 'seeing like a city means recognizing that cities are living things made up of a tangle of networks, built up from the agency of countless actors. Cities must not be considered as expressions of larger paradigms or sites of human effort and organization alone. Within their density, size and sprawl can be found a world of symbols, bodies, buildings, technologies and infrastructures. It is the machine-like combination, interaction and confrontation of these different elements that make a city.'

"Amin and Thrift are a magnificent duet conjuring for the reader a sensorium of the intersecting forces affecting and shaped by the sociotechnical systems making up the urban. The book is a 'city' in itself – a vibrant infrastructure of human co-residency with heterogeneous entities, systems, materials, and modes of existence. Here, cities are the locus through which to rethink the very composition of our world and how we might remake, with reinvestment in the provisioning of public goods, a more judicious, viable place within it."

AbdouMaliq Simone, Goldsmiths, University of London

"This is a book that needed to be written. It takes us beyond the common notion of cities as settings, and pulls us into layer after layer of what constitutes the urban. Written in a highly conceptualized way, it gives us the full experience of theoria in its original meaning: seeing."

Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, author of Expulsions

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# Department of Geography hosts Distinguished Visitor Professor Professor Didier Fassin

Department of Geography hosts Distinguished Visitor Professor Professor Didier Fassin

As part of the Distinguished Visitors Scheme, Professor Didier Fassin will be visiting the Department from Tuesday 14th to Thursday 16th February, 2017.

Didier Fassin is the James Wolfensohn Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study and Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. Didier is an anthropologist and a sociologist who has conducted fieldwork in Senegal, Ecuador, South Africa, and France.

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# Department of Geography hosts Distinguished Visitor Professor Don Mitchell

The Department of Geography is committed to bringing internationally renowned scholars to Cambridge, under our Distinguished Visitors Scheme. Our most recent guest was Professor Don Mitchell of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, who came to Cambridge for the first time in his career, giving a public lecture, a research seminar, and a graduate seminar. Professor Mitchell has made key contributions in a number of fields, particularly in cultural geography and cultural theory, in his focus on labour and the political economy of landscape, and in relation to struggles over urban public space. Continue reading …

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# Distinguished Visitor: Professor Don Mitchell

Distinguished Visitor: Professor Don Mitchell

As part of the Distinguished Visitors Scheme, Professor Don Mitchell will be visiting the Department, from Tuesday 8th November to Thursday 10th November 2016. He is Distinguished Professor of Geography at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University). He will be giving a lecture ('Revolting New York: How Riots, Uprisings, and Revolutions Shape the Urban Landscape') and seminar ('Mean Streets: Homelessness, Public Space, and the Limits to Capital') - all welcome.

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# Event: Geography and neo-vitalism

Event: Geography and neo-vitalism

Matthew Gandy and Michael Bravo are holding a half-day workshop on the theme of "Geography and neo-vitalism" on Wednesday 23rd November. The neo-vitalist turn in geography raises many interesting questions across the discipline including connections with the geo-humanities and new fields of interdisciplinary scholarship. In recent years the works of Henri Bergson, Hans Driesch, and other thinkers have gained influence in debates over non-human agency, post-human subjectivities, and new concepts of nature. In this workshop we wish to bring together staff and graduate students with an interest in contemporary theoretical
debates for this half-day event.

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# Here come the drones

Here come the drones

The methods we use to teach physical geography and environmental science are rapidly changing. As a new generation of high-quality affordable drones creates a revolution in the way that schools collect, process and view landscape data, Dr Steve Boreham of the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge takes us through the ins and outs of flying drones for research.

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# Policy Forum investigates the geography of the court system

Policy Forum investigates the geography of the court system

A Policy Forum organised by Alex Jeffrey on 29th and 30th September 2016 and funded by an ESRC Impact Acceleration Award, brought together Judges, government officials, NGO representatives and academics to debate the implications of the re-organisation of the UK Court System. As trials are focused on fewer court buildings and digital technologies are enrolled by court users to facilitate access to justice, the debate focused on the role of court spaces in shaping judicial outcomes, the significance of courts as symbols of justice and the uneven adoption of technologies amongst court users.

Much of the discussion focused on the micro-scale of the court space, its organisation and the potential for innovation. For example, Meredith Rossner (LSE) presented recent research into the role of the dock in shaping and jury's perception of guilt or innocence, where the use of a dock (as opposed to the defendant sitting at a table next to their legal support) led to a statistical increase in guilty verdicts. Referring to this work, Judge Nicolas Coleman talked through the importance of the appropriate atmosphere for the achievement of justice – the significance of solemnity – drawing attention to the comportment of the judiciary but also the appropriate arrangement of trial spaces. Alexandra Marks, lawyer and board member of the legal reform NGO JUSTICE, emphasised the need for more flexible spaces to perform trials, including ad hoc or temporary courts alongside more formal judicial spaces. Particular attention was placed by Marks on the possibility of local justice centres in UK towns and cities where technologically mediated and face-to-face legal advice could be accessed by the public.

A more complete report an be found on PlacingLaw.

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# Anthropocene: The journey to a new geological epoch

Anthropocene: The journey to a new geological epoch

Over the last century, humans have littered the oceans with plastic, pumped CO2 into the air and raked fertilisers across the land. The impact of our species is so severe and so enduring that the current geological time period could soon be declared the 'Anthropocene'. This was the recommendation of a group of scientists in August. The announcement was the product of years of work and, arguably, arrived on the shoulders of centuries of scientific and philosophical grappling with the idea of humanity's role in shaping the world. Professor Phil Gibbard, of the Department, is interviewed in the article.

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# All the World’s a Stage: Gray and Smith collaborate with Menagerie Theatre on play

All the World’s a Stage: Gray and Smith collaborate with Menagerie Theatre on play

What do you get when you cross two geographers with a theatre company? Mia Gray and Susan Smith have teamed up with Menagerie Theatre Company to bring you The Great Austerity Debate, a forum theatre event which shares questions and seeks fresh ideas about austerity's effects on people, policies and places. Is austerity inevitable? Is it fair? What are the alternatives? We start with a hard-hitting performance of an original play, followed by an interactive session when you get to give your responses, ideas and answers. It will be entertaining, sparky and unpredictable. We start our tour at the Festival of Ideas. Come along and join in!

The Great Austerity Debate is a year-long collaboration between Mia Gray, Susan Smith, and Menagerie Theatre Company. We created a forum theatre piece, A Life in the Week of Megan K., which tours to non-theatre venues in Cambridge, Great Yarmouth, County Durham, Norwich and London. Each venue chooses to host a performance for very specific reasons and it is through their interest and goodwill that the events are taking place. We tour to a church hall, a community centre, a former miners' reading room, a university lecture theatre and a trade union office. As in all forum theatre pieces, we involve the audience as "spect-actors" or creative participants, helping to solve problems to the play's thorny questions. The performances are largely free and the project will be documented on film. Gray and Smith's research and questions inspired the content and narrative of the piece and the performances themselves will even form part of their ongoing work.

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