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Department of Geography

 

Cambridge Cultural and Historical Geography

Cambridge Cultural and Historical Geography

Geography at Cambridge has longstanding interests in cultural and historical geography. Our research spans fields such as historical demography, including epidemiology, fertility, and urbanisation. Research on the body includes aspects of health and everyday life, with extensive work on the histories of nutrition, alcohol consumption, and bio-political dimensions to social regulation. Other themes include colonial and post-colonial geographies with links to geographies of gender, race, and sexuality. We are also interested in more-than-human geographies including histories of botany, entomology, and animal studies, with wider links to science and technology studies and urban history.

Themes

Demography and epidemiology

Demography and epidemiology

Our demographic research is based in the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure (CAMPOP), led by Alice Reid, and includes teams of researchers associated with the Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award Migration, Mortality and Medicalisation: investigating the long-run epidemiological consequences of urbanisation 1600-1945 (PI Richard Smith) and ESRC large grant award An Atlas of Victorian Fertility Decline (PI Alice Reid). Specific foci for this research span topics such as the social and spatial geographies of the late 19th and early 20th century fertility decline; the technological enhancement of historical demography through the use of GIS and spatial analysis; and the epidemiological consequences of urbanisation.

Food, famine, and regulation

Food, famine, and regulation

A major strand of work on famine, philanthropy, and the politics of food is being led by David Nally who is preparing a major monograph on this theme. Other key areas include the history of alcohol consumption, temperance, and social regulation marked by David Beckingham's monograph The licensed city: regulating drink in Liverpool, 1830-1920 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2017) and histories of prostitution and sexuality led by Philip Howell and Olga Petri.

Nature and landscape

Nature and landscape

Our work on nature, landscape, and urbanization is supported by the ERC Advanced Grant Rethinking Urban Nature (PI Matthew Gandy). This work examines six main areas: redefining urban ecology; post-humanism and new conceptions of agency; epidemiology, insect vectors and the political ecology of water; wastelands and urban bio-diversity; aesthetics, landscape and "non-design"; and marginal spaces and cultural practice.

Animal geographies

Animal geographies

The history of animals under modernity has been a strong strand of work in recent years marked by Phil Howell's work on dogs and his monograph At home and astray: the domestic dog in Victorian Britain (University of Virginia Press, 2015). Further contributions include Matthew Gandy's book Moth (Reaktion, 2016) and ERC supported work on dogs, snakes, and other fauna in Chennai.

Cities and urbanisation

Cities and urbanisation

A cross-cutting theme between CCHG and other research groups is the study of cities and urbanization with particular interest in infrastructure, landscape, and the human sensorium. Key books include Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift, Seeing like a city (Polity, 2017) and Matthew Gandy, The fabric of space: water, modernity, and the urban imagination (The MIT Press, 2014). There are connections here with wider debates on "lively infrastuctures", urban atmospheres, and the neo-vitalist turn marked by recent symposia hosted by the British Academy, the Urban Salon, and the Department of Geography.

Histories of finance and state formation

Histories of finance and state formation

Further links across the department's research groups include histories of urban finance and governance including the formation of the local state with particular emphasis on the origin and role of chambers of commerce in patterns of economic development. A key project under this theme, with extensive archival work, is the ESRC large grant The Drivers of Entrepreneurship and Small Business (PI R.J. Bennett).

Group members

Professor Tim Bayliss-Smith Geography and epidemiology of the depopulation of Island Melanesia, especially Solomon Islands in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Dr David Beckingham The regulation of alcohol and intemperance in Victorian British cities, especially Liverpool. Geography of the temperance movement at home and abroad.
Professor Robert Bennett History of entrepreneurship and small business, currently mainly 1851-1911 and modern patterns; also history of chambers of commerce 1760 onwards and business associations.
Professor Andrew Cliff Spatial epidemiology: the disease patterns and processes arising from humanitarian crises and population displacements since the beginning of the twentieth century.
Dr Romola Davenport The urban mortality transition in north-west Europe in the period 1700-1850, including the geography of smallpox epidemics in Britain before vaccination.
Dr Joseph Day Identifying the causes of the heterogeneity of demographic experience observed among proto-industrial populations.
Professor Matthew Gandy
Convenor
Landscape, infrastructure, and modernity, including corporeal and sensory geographies.
Professor Bob Haining The geography of crime using GIS, including doorstep criminality in Cambridgeshire and the incidence of rape in Stockholm.
Dr Philip Howell The cultural and historical geography of prostitution, gender and sexuality in Victorian Britain and its empire; changing animal geographies.
Hannaliis Jaadla Research description to follow.
Dr Sandra Jasper
Convenor
The urban and cultural history of West Berlin; acoustic geographies; feminist theory and concepts of nature, agency, and human subjectivity.
Dr Maros Krivy Research description to follow.
Dr Piero Montebruno Research description to follow.
Dr David Nally Geographical dimensions of colonisation, the geopolitics of subsistence crises, and the politics of famine relief measures, for example the Irish Famine.
Gill Newton Mortality and disease transmission in urban Britain, especially London, in the sixteenth to nineteenth century.
Dr Alice Reid Infant, child and maternal mortality in British populations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, including the role of doctors and midwifery.
Dr Max Satchell Historical geography, occupational structure and transport networks using GIS, and leprosy in Britain since c.1000.
Professor Richard Smith Welfare and demography in England c. 1300-1834, the geography of poor relief, and a re-assessment of the Mortality Revolution and Epidemiological Transition models for England, western Europe and Asia.
Professor Janice Stargardt The historical geography and archaeology of South and South East Asia. Working on early urbanism in South and Southeast Asia and the spread of Buddhism and early maritime trade in the Indian Ocean.
Rachel Taylor Research description to follow.
Dr Carry van Lieshout Research description to follow.

Graduate students

The following graduate students are also associated with the group:

Adam Bobbette
Convenor
Volatile natures, environmental controversies and change, cultures of prediction and divination, epistemologies and ontologies of the geos, Indonesia.
Han Cheng Breathing Modernity: Politicising Air (Pollution) in China-Africa Development Cooperation
Annalena Di Giovanni
Convenor
Street View: Chronicles of Coexistence In The Age of HyperIstanbul
David McLaughlin Mobile Holmes: Travel Writing, Mobility and Imagination in the Sherlock Holmes Stories
Marcus Nyman Foraging in the city’s margins: understanding urban nature through food gathering practices in London
Nida Rehman Urban Vectors: The Politics and Practices of Public Health in Lahore
Mathilda Rosengren Wastelands of difference? Urban nature and more-than-human difference in Berlin and Gothenburg
Morgan Seag Equal Opportunities on Ice: Gendered institutional change in 20th century Antarctic science

Activities

CAMPOP

The Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure

The Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure is an interdisciplinary research group based in the Department of Geography and the Faculty of History.


Header image by Merjin Royaards. "A sound, a kind of whistling, rises above the background noise. Clear and articulate, it pierces through the heavy blanket of city sounds" (2012).