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Department of Geography


Research seminars

Research seminars

Jump to: Main Departmental seminars | Cultural and Historical Geography | Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure | Conservation | Environmental Systems and Processes | Political ecology | Polar physical science | Circumpolar History and Public Policy (CHiPP) | Gender | Quaternary Discussion Group (QDG) | Reading groups

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Main Departmental seminar series

Main Departmental seminar series at the Department of Geography.

View the archive of previous seminars.

# Thursday 23rd October 2014, 4.15pm - Professor Siwan Davies, Geography, Swansea University
Ash, Ice, Mud: Tephras and Rapid Climate Changes
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Little has challenged our understanding of climate change more so than the abruptness with which large-scale shifts in temperature occurred during the last glacial period. Atmospheric temperature jumps occurring within decades over Greenland were closely matched by rapid changes in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures and major re-organisation of the deep ocean circulation. Although these climatic instabilities are well-documented in various proxy records, the causal mechanisms of such short-lived oscillations remain poorly understood, largely due to the dating uncertainties that prevent the integration of different archives. This talk explores how microscopic traces of volcanic events can be used to precisely correlate the Greenland ice-cores with North Atlantic marine records. These time-lines are used to constrain the lead/lag responses between the atmospheric and oceanic systems during the last glacial period.

# Thursday 20th November 2014, 4.15pm - Professor Miles Ogborn, Geography, Queen Mary University of London
The Freedom of Speech: Talk and Slavery in Jamaica and Barbados
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

This paper explores the idea that empires are oral cultures too. It will examine the significant investment in ‘forms of talk’ of Britain’s Atlantic empire of the long eighteenth century – in sermons, speeches, oaths, evidence giving, orders, prayers, polite conversation and debating – and their role in the process of making, and challenging, imperial identities and forms of imperial rule. Examining the highly asymmetrical slave societies of the Caribbean (Barbados and Jamaica), it investigates how speech practices both underpinned and contested notions of freedom and bondage.

# Thursday 11th December 2014, 4.15pm - Professor Timothy Ingold, Anthropology, University of Aberdeen
Of Knots and Blocks: Dwelling in Smooth Space
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Modern thinking about architecture, landscape, language and mind has been dominated by the related metaphors of the building block, the chain and the container. These metaphors lead us to think of a world which is not so much woven from ever ravelling and unravelling strands as assembled from pre-cut pieces. Here I argue for the power of an alternative metaphor, the knot. In a world where things are continually coming into being through processes of growth and movement – that is, in a world of life – knotting, I contend, is the fundamental principle of coherence. It is the way forms are held together and kept in place within what would otherwise be a formless and inchoate flux. Is there a connection between thinking-though-knotting and an understanding of the inhabited world as the interpenetration of earth below and sky above, rather than as a homogeneous ground upon which the architectures of the environment are erected?

# Thursday 29th January 2015, 4.15pm - Professor Melissa Leach, Institute of Development Studies
Carbon Conflicts: New Imaginaries and Political Economies in African Forest Landscapes
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Global climate change concerns have stimulated a wave of forest carbon projects and offsetting schemes across the world, many in Africa. These are exemplars of the contemporary neo-liberalisation of nature, but also shaped by the peculiar, globalised discourses and practices that construct carbon as a tradeable commodity. Drawing on a collective project involving case studies across the continent, this talk explores what happens when these emergent imaginaries and political economies hit the ground – and how they come to make sense, or otherwise, to people living with and understanding ‘nature’ in very different ways. Approaching landscapes as discursive, material and radically contested, it explores the political ecology-economy of forest carbon projects in historical context, as part of longer-term histories of layered intervention, and changing market and valuation processes. It asks: how is carbon commoditisation and marketisation interlocking with long-term pathways of landscape change, and so reshaping livelihoods and ecologies? Who are the winners and the losers? What new political and ecological dynamics are emerging as forests are re-valued for carbon? Or put more simply – amidst ongoing pathways of change – what difference does ‘carbon’ make?

# Thursday 26th February 2015, 4.15pm - Professor Richard Dawson, Earth Systems Engineering, Newcastle University
Adapting Cities and Their Infrastructure to Global Change: An Integrated Modelling Approach to Understand Risks and Tradeoffs
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

The urgent need to reconfigure urban areas to emit less pollution (including greenhouse gases), be more resilient to climate risks and more sustainable in general can be assisted by rigorous analysis of these complex systems. In this talk I shall present the Urban Integrated Assessment Framework (UIAF) that was developed initially as part of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research Cities Programme and subsequently advanced via several other projects. The UIAF provides a consistent framework for analysis of greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks in the context of multiple drivers of long term change. A case study in London (U.K.) shows that risks from heatwaves, droughts and floods could more than double and CO2 emissions could rise 28% without adaptation and mitigation over the 21st century. Notably, socio-economic drivers are responsible for a greater proportion, compared to climate change, of increased weather risks. There are also trade-offs in climate risks, land use choices and energy demand from adaptation policies. The work highlights the need for portfolios of adaptation and mitigation options, providing the evidence to motivate climate-sensitive development in London. Finally, I shall consider the role of tools like the UIAF and their utility for informing spatial development strategies such as the London Plan after a placement at the Greater London Authority.

# Thursday 19th March 2015, 4.15pm - Dr Andy Merrifield, Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge
Urban Participation and Possibility: The Shadow Citizenry and the Right to the City
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

In 1989, Henri Lefebvre voiced the hypothesis that the right to the city was nothing more than a “new revolutionary concept of citizenship.” He implied revolutionary citizenship is not a right: it has to be taken, recreated anew, struggled for—not rubber-stamped. Today’s revolutionary citizens are citizens without rights, disenfranchised urban citizens the world over. Revolutionary citizens carry SHADOW PASSPORTS. Our shadow passports express a citizenship waiting in the wings, a solidarity haunting the mainstream, floating through frontiers, across designated checkpoints, sometimes even straying between academic disciplines. For holders of shadow passports, homeland securities and border control agencies know nothing about our true identities; and official maps rarely tell us where to go: they’re useless in helping us re-orientate ourselves, in helping us find ourselves, in helping us discover one another. This paper investigates, and tries to put a fresh spin on Lefebvre right to the city thesis and on the possibilities for participatory democracy.

Seminars in Cultural and Historical Geography

All seminars begin at 1pm and take place in the Hardy Building, Room 101 (unless otherwise stated), Department of Geography. All welcome!

View the archive of previous seminars.

# Thursday 6th November 2014, 1.00pm - Natalie Cox, University of Warwick
The turbulent tale of Richard Burton, an armchair, and the Hakluyt Society: a story of nineteenth-century geography and the materialities of exploration
Venue: Room 101 (Hardy Building, Downing Site)

Abstract not available

# Thursday 20th November 2014, 1.00pm - Akanksha Marphatia, University of Cambridge
Can the past help us to understand the present? A life-course perspective on the predictors and consequences of adolescent education and life outcomes in rural India
Venue: Room 101 (Hardy Building, Downing Site)

Abstract not available

# Thursday 27th November 2014, 1.00pm - Caroline Bressey, University College London
Conversations with Caroline: archival spaces of the Victorian asylum
Venue: Room 101, Hardy Building, Department of Geography

Abstract not available

The Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure - seminar series

Research seminar series run by the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure.
The support of the Trevelyan Fund (Faculty of History) is gratefully acknowledged.

**The Group seminar series will not run in Michaelmas 2014, but will meet again in Lent and Easter 2015**

Convenors: Leigh Shaw-Taylor (, Romola Davenport ( and Alice Reid (

There are no forthcoming seminars at present. Please check back here later.

You may wish to view the archive of previous seminars.

Cambridge Conservation Seminars

The series is intended to provide a research and social focus for university lecturers, research staff and postgraduate students interested in conservation research. The primary aim is to inform university colleagues of what research is going on in different departments and to bring in high quality outside speakers. Equally, members of conservation organisations are welcome to attend. A key element is the opportunity after each talk to socialise with colleagues from different departments and organisations.

Generously funded by the CCI Strategic Initiative Fund

View the archive of previous seminars.

# Wednesday 29th October 2014, 5.00pm - Johan Rockström Professor in Environmental Sciences Executive Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University
Planetary Boundaries 2.0: the latest advancements on defining a safe operating space for humanity on Earth
Venue: Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Major advancements in Earth system science and resilience research, enabled the scientific proposition in 2009 to define science based planetary boundaries, aimed at delineating a biophysical safe operating space for human development on Earth. The key elements of scientific advancement that formed the ingredients of the planetary boundaries framework include (1) the evidence of the advent of the Anthropocene, (2) tipping elements in the Earth system, (3) the unique role of the Holocene equilibrium as the only stable state of the planet we know that can support our modern world, and (4) the deeper understanding of interactions, feedbacks and threshold dynamics among processes and components of the Earth system. Since its original publication the PB framework has triggered major scientific scrutiny, debate and advancements (with 933 scientific citations and 62 scientific publications directly addressing planetary boundaries, Web of Science 20th October 2014). This has resulted in significant progress in assessing the identification of planetary boundary processes and improved definition of boundary levels. It has also triggered scientific efforts of coupling global planetary boundaries with regional definitions and to deepen the analysis of interactions among boundaries. It has also triggered new integrated research on global governance and equity dimensions of planetary stewardship of a safe and just operating space within planetary boundaries.

# Wednesday 5th November 2014, 5.00pm - Dr Nick Hill, Zoological Society of London
MPAs, mangroves and carpets: cause for #OceanOptimism?
Venue: Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Abstract not available

# Wednesday 12th November 2014, 5.00pm - Professor Heidi Ballard, UC Davis
Environmental and Science Learning through Participation in Scientific Research: From Learning to Conservation Action
Venue: Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Abstract not available

# Wednesday 19th November 2014, 5.00pm - Dr Juliet Vickery, RSPB Centre for Conservation Science
Landscape scale conservation - a bird's eye view
Venue: Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Abstract not available

# Wednesday 26th November 2014, 5.00pm - Professor Brendan Godley, University of Exeter
Tracking marine turtles for conservation
Venue: Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Abstract not available

# Wednesday 3rd December 2014, 5.00pm - Dr Andrew Tanentzap, Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge
Extending freshwater conservation beyond shorelines by linking aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems
Venue: Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Abstract not available

Environmental Systems and Processes - Department of Geography

Seminars within the Environmental Systems and Processes research group of the Department of Geography.

View the archive of previous seminars.

# Tuesday 28th October 2014, 1.00pm - Dr Ilan Kelman, Reader in Risk, Resilience and Global Health at University College London
Connecting health research and disaster research: global health, disaster risk reduction and disaster response
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Humanity faces significant sustainability challenges and opportunities, amongst which are reducing vulnerability to hazards including climate change alongside maintaining healthy populations and environments. Health research and disaster studies stand at the forefront of developing solutions, yet they often pursue the research separately. This seminar proposes specific projects for bringing together science on global health, disaster risk reduction, and disaster response, through using island case studies. Examples are (i) combining disaster diplomacy and health diplomacy, (ii) the psychological effects of climate change impacts and adaptation, and (iii) using performing arts for health and disaster risk communication.

Ilan Kelman [1] is a Reader in Risk, Resilience and Global Health at University College London, England. His overall research interest is linking disasters and health, including the integration of climate change into disaster research and health research. He works on three main areas: (i) disaster diplomacy and health diplomacy http:// [2] [2]; (ii) island sustainability involving safe and healthy communities in isolated locations http:// [3] [3]; and (iii) risk education for health and disasters http:// [4] [4].


Polar Physical Sciences

Quaternary Discussion Group (QDG)