Geography at Cambridge - news 2017-02-23T07:02:46+00:00 Cambridge part of project exploring the mitigation hierarchy in biodiversity and conservation 2017-02-22T00:00:00+00:00 Reader in the Political Economy of Environment and Development Bhaskar Vira has been involved in a project exploring the dynamics that lie behind managing the impact of new developments in industry and construction. Avoiding impacts is seen by many as the most certain and effective way of managing harm to biodiversity. However, despite an abundance of legislative and voluntary requirements, there is often a failure to avoid impacts. This project explores the reasons for this failure and outlines some possible solutions. It highlights the key roles that can be played by conservation organizations in cultivating political will, holding decision makers accountable to the law, improving the processes of impact assessment and avoidance, building capacity, and providing technical knowledge. These findings can help to limit the impacts on biodiversity of large-scale developments in energy, infrastructure, agriculture and other sectors. Publication: Phalan, B., Hayes, G., Brooks, S., Marsh, D., Howard, P., Costelloe, B., Vira, B., Kowalska, A. and Whitaker, S., 2017. Avoiding impacts on biodiversity through strengthening the first stage of the mitigation hierarchy. ORYX, p.1-9. doi:10.1017/S0030605316001034. Imagining infrastructures workshop 2017-02-20T00:00:00+00:00 A workshop, Imagining infrastructures: space, subject, and affect, will be held in the Department on 8th March 2017, from 2-6pm. The idea of infrastructure has expanded in recent years to encompass not just technological networks but modes of living, interstitial spaces, and emerging bio-cultural landscapes. Infrastructure now extends to different scales of analysis from the multi-sensory domain of the individual human subject to more complex or diffuse types of attachments, atmospheres, and subjectivities. Speakers include Vanesa Castán Broto, Jiat-Hwee Chang, Somaiyeh Falahat, Matthew Gandy, Sandra Jasper, Maros Krivy, Kumiko Kuichi, Jochen Monstadt, Mathilda Rosengren, Manuel Tironi, Jane Wolff. Dinner will follow the event. Please RSVP to . Film screening of Geography Graduate's film 'Facing the Mountains' 2017-02-17T00:00:00+00:00 On Friday 24 Feb, the Department of Geography will be hosting a screening of 'Facing the Mountains', a film co-directed by Geography graduate Ross Harrison: Facing the Mountains (20:36) (Director/Camera/Editor: Ross Harrison; Director/Producer: Vaibhav Kaul; Score: Juliet Aaltonen) Coping with extremes is part of life for people across the Himalayas. But in June 2013, at Kedarnath, a sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in northern India, conditions fatefully aligned to produce an unprecedented disaster. Thousands of pilgrims and locals were faced with a once-in-a-generation catastrophe and thousands of lives were lost. Through the words of survivors, local elders and new visitors, we are shown a portrait of a place where the events of 2013 have become part of a larger story; one of resilience, of faith, and of eternal change. Screening at 4.15pm, Small Lecture Theatre. The screening will be followed by an informal discussion with the film makers. Geography PhD Student featured in 'Cambridge's postgraduate pioneers' 2017-02-16T00:00:00+00:00 PhD student Jonny Hanson's work on snow leopard conservation has been featured in University's 'Postgraduate Pioneers' Series. Jonny came to Cambridge from Northern Ireland and his research explores the relationship between people, snow leopards and snow leopard conservation in two protected areas in Nepal: the Annapurna Conservation Area and the Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park. Jonny is identifying the human factors which are both critical for and detrimental to snow leopard conservation, including assessing household conflict with snow leopards and conservation efforts. In particular, Jonny's study examines how attitudes vary under the contrasting management regimes at his two field sites, as well as varying degrees of livelihood dependence on livestock. Jonny's work in Nepal has included surveying 705 households and conducting seventy qualitative interviews with local people who share the mountains with snow leopards Mapping malaria on a local scale 2017-02-15T00:00:00+00:00 A team including Emeritus Professor of Human Geography Bob Haining are working towards the development of a new spatial support system for infectious diseases within Karnataka State in India. Their latest work has focused on the incidence of malaria in the region, using data mapping and cluster detection to identify local conditions associated with high numbers cases. This project will contribute to the development of a practical spatial decision support system for combatting the disease in the area. Department of Geography hosts Distinguished Visitor Professor Professor Didier Fassin 2017-02-15T00:00:00+00:00 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. Geography researchers part of a project to understan Ethiopia’s volcanoes 2017-02-14T00:00:00+00:00 Professor of Geography Christine Lane and Professor of Volcanology Clive Oppenheimer are part of a team that has undertaken new research on tephra (volcanic ash) in the Afar Triangle and adjacent Ethiopian Rift Valley. The team has undertaken the first <17 cal ka BP tephrostratigraphy for the Afar Triangle using sediments from lakes Ashenge and Hayk (Ethiopian Highlands). The variable and distinct glass compositions of the tephra layers indicate they may have been erupted from as many as seven volcanoes. This project has demonstrated the importance of undertaking further study within this region, so as to better understand its volcanic past, and to be better able to predict volcanoes in the future. Publication: Martin-Jones, C.M., Lane, C.S., Pearce, N.J.G., Smith, V.C., Lamb, H.F., Oppenheimer, C., Asrat, A. and Schaebitz, F., 2017. Glass compositions and tempo of post-17 ka eruptions from the Afar Triangle recorded in sediments from lakes Ashenge and Hayk, Ethiopia. Quaternary Geochronology, v. 37, p.15-31. doi:10.1016/j.quageo.2016.10.001. India’s militant rhino protectors are challenging traditional views of how conservation works 2017-02-13T00:00:00+00:00 Reader in the Political Economy of Environment and Development and Director of University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute Bhaskar Vira responds to a BBC Investigation into Kaziranga, a national park in north-eastern India, which found that guards at the park were shooting suspected poachers dead in order to protect the rhinos. In a piece for The Conversation Dr Vira explores what the case reveals about the conflicts that characterise contemporary conservation, as the need to protect endangered species comes into contact with the lives and rights of people who live in and around the increasingly threatened national parks. How can we tackle abuse in the global garment industry? 2017-02-09T00:00:00+00:00 An article by Department lecturer Alice Evans from The Conversation and the Australian DevPolicy Blog explores ways in which the governments could improve conditions within the global garment industry through a focus on gender inequalities and trade incentives. How do wildfires affect boreal forests? 2017-02-07T00:00:00+00:00 A new article by Fellow of Churchill College, Nick Cutler, and others explores the impact of wildfires on boreal forests and their ecosystems: Great swathes of the boreal forest floor are covered with a thick layer of moss (the 'boreal bryosphere'). Microbes living in this moss layer play a critical ecological role, not least in terms of nutrient (primarily nitrogen) supply. This study showed that wildfires can disrupt the microbial communities of the bryosphere for a period of decades. This finding has implications for the long-term functioning of boreal forests, as these ecosystems are expected to experience more frequent wildfires as a consequence of climate change. New Cambridge research explores South African Middle 2017-02-06T00:00:00+00:00 In a recently published article in Geoforum, Department Lecturer Charlotte Lemanski proposes new ways of looking at middling households within South Africa. While previous research has often been limited by finance- or status-based labels of 'middle class', this work moves away from class-based labels, and instead focuses on 'middle' households as a way to identify the needs of an emerging demographic within Africa who are neither affluent nor poor, and who are not well served by middle-class expectations. South Africa has a clear 'middle' group, caught within the housing gap, and unable to secure homeownership via either state-subsidised or private housing finance. Using the empirical example of so-called gap households in South Africa, this research focuses on households caught 'in the middle' between affluence and poverty, between public and private institutions, and between social and economic interventions, to reveal the ways in which middle households are a crucial and growing demographic sector that is easily misrepresented by the contemporary obsession with the African middle-class. This work is also linked to a session that formed part of the African Studies Association of the UK 2016 conference. New research with Cambridge Coastal Research Unit explores the coastal protection of salt marshes and climate change 2017-02-03T00:00:00+00:00 Research by Ruth Reef (Monash, previously MC Research Fellow), Tom Spencer, Iris Möller, Catherine Lovelock (Queensland), Elizabeth Christie, Anna McIvor, Ben Evans and James Tempest recently published in Global Change Biology explores how elevated levels of CO2 and changing nutrient availability are affecting saltmarsh growth. Reef, R., Spencer, T., Mӧller, I., Lovelock, C.E., Christie, E.K., McIvor, A.L., Evans, B.R. and Tempest, J.A., 2017. The effects of elevated CO2 and eutrophication on surface elevation gain in a European salt marsh.. Glob Chang Biol, v. 23, p.881-890. doi:10.1111/gcb.13396 The results of this study will be able to guide management policy regarding the conservation of saltmarshes in the face of sea level rise. What is the impact of a massive volcanic eruption? 2017-02-02T00:00:00+00:00 Research by a team of researchers including Department Professor of Volcanology Clive Oppenheimer into the aftermath of the 1257 eruption of the Samalas volcano in Indonesia recently published in Nature Geoscience suggests that the eruption did not necessarily plunge the region into societal crisis. Indeed, despite some short term consequences, including aggravations of previous conditions that were leading to famines in Europe and Japan, it seems that by 1259 climatic conditions were back to normal over most of Europe. The research has drawn from historical archives, ice-core data and tree-ring records to reconstruct the spatial and temporal climate response to the Samalas eruption. New book: Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms: Modern, Quaternary and Ancient 2017-02-01T00:00:00+00:00 Professor of Physical Geography and Director of the Scott Polar Instititute, Julian Dowdeswell, has co-edited a new Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms. The Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms presents a comprehensive series of contributions by leading researchers from many countries that describe, discuss and illustrate landforms on the high latitude, glacier-influenced seafloor. Included are submarine glacial landforms from modern, Quaternary and ancient glacimarine environments. Phil Gibbard on NPO 2 TV programme 'Tegenlicht /Backlight' 2017-01-30T00:00:00+00:00 Since the previous century the influence of humans on the land and the atmosphere has become so great that they are more and more assessed by scientists as irreversible. For this reason the Dutch scientist Paul Crutzen proposed a new geological period, the Anthropocene. Not Pleistocene nor Holocene, but Anthropocene. A geological period in which the influence of humans to no longer questioned. Is there still a way to overcome the changes? Or are we humans able use nature correctly to offer her a helping hand and see how we can adapt to this new period ourselves? Professor Phil Gibbard discusses the evidence for this potential new geological period in this Dutch television documentary programme. Cambridge News: New podcast by Geography lecturer Dr Alice Evans 2017-01-27T00:00:00+00:00 A new podcast has been created by Department of Geography Lecturer Dr Alice Evans. The free podcast sees Dr Evans interview geographers, anthropologists and economists, exploring questions around proposed solutions to inequality including questions around austerity, affluence, social movements, overseas aid and Brexit. In the first episode in the series, Dr Evans interviews fellow Departmental lecturer Dr Charlotte Lemanski. Conference: Researching South-South Development Cooperation 2017-01-25T00:00:00+00:00 Reader in Human Geography Dr Emma Mawdsley is co-convening a 2 day conference on the subject of 'Researching South-South Development Cooperation' at CRASSH, 3-4 April 2017. This conference is the first of its kind in its specific focus on the epistemological and related methodological challenges associated with researching South-South development cooperation. The conference will invite researchers on SSDC - from graduates and early career scholars to leading figures in the field - to reflect critically on the changing politics of knowledge and knowledge production that these actors and trends present. Fossilised tree and ice cores help date huge volcanic eruption 1,000 years ago to within three months 2017-01-24T00:00:00+00:00 An international team of researchers, including Professor Clive Oppenheimer of the Department, has managed to pinpoint, to within three months, a medieval volcanic eruption in east Asia the precise date of which has puzzled historians for decades. They have also shown that the so-called "Millennium eruption" of Changbaishan volcano, one of the largest in history, cannot have brought about the downfall of an important 10th century kingdom, as was previously thought. Department of Geography welcomes new Professor of Environmental Systems Analysis Ulf Büntgen 2017-01-20T00:00:00+00:00 The Department of Geography welcomes a new Professor of Environmental Systems Analysis: Professor Ulf Büntgen. Professor Büntgen was previously Head of the Dendroecology Group at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL. He studied geography, geology and cartography at the University of Bonn, Germany (1999-2003), and obtained his Ph.D. (2006) and Habilitation (2011) at the University of Bern, Switzerland. He is conducting fieldwork all over the globe to provide answers to his main research questions: How did and does climate change? How did and do ecosystems respond to such changes? CUGS Talks: Lent Term 2017 2017-01-19T00:00:00+00:00 Our Cambridge University Geographical Society students have put together a fantastic line-up of speakers for this term in what promises to be an excellent series of evenings. Tuesday 24 Jan, Richard Wilkinson: Income Differences and Dysfunctional Societies, Thursday 2 Feb, Joe Smith (Open University): Climate Change in the Media: the greatest story never told? Thursday 9 Feb, Nicholas Crane (Royal Geographic Society): The Making of the British Landscape: from the Ice Age to the present Tuesday 21 Feb, Jason Dittmer (UCL): The UK in the World/ The World in the UK: affect, everyday diplomacy and the national interest Thursday 2 March, Saskia Sassen (Colombia University): Geographies of Expulsion All talks are from 6pm-7.15pm in the Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography and are free to CUGS members and £2 for non-members. Department of Geography Annual Report 2015-16 2017-01-18T00:00:00+00:00 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. New book: 'Seeing Like a City', Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift 2017-01-17T00:00:00+00:00 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.' Department of Geography hosts Distinguished Visitor Professor Don Mitchell 2016-11-15T00:00:00+00:00 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 … Event: Geography and neo-vitalism 2016-10-31T00:00:00+00:00 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.