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Electronic dissertations

Electronic dissertations

Jump to: Recent dissertations | Older dissertations

A selection of dissertations from recent graduates are now available for reading access online.

We regret to announce that paper copies of dissertations submitted prior to 2020 are not included in this service, nor can they be accessed until the physical library space can safely be reopened.

Please note down the file number (in the first column) before you proceed to the online request form, where you can request access to two dissertations per application. It is best to use this form from the Geography intranet.

You can also request a particular dissertation by clicking on the number in the first column of the table, which also takes you through to the request form.

Terms and conditions apply, and you must agree to these before you are given access.

Recent dissertations

Number Title Abstract
UG-21/01 Roads to Improvement: The Construction of "Destitution Roads" by the Edinburgh Section of the Central Board as a response to Highland Famine, 1847-1850

Recent work in historical geography has investigated the 'governmentalisation of famine' in the nineteenth century (Nally, 2008; Sasson and Vernon, 2015). This literature has drawn on Foucault's (2007) concept of governmentality to argue that famines were considered legitimate sites of intervention and that relief responses were designed to conduct specific societal outcomes. This dissertation explores the governmentalisation of famine further by examining the under-investigated Highland Potato Famine. Administrators of eleemosynary aid between 1847 and 1850 viewed famine responses as an opportunity to reconfigure and 'improve' Highland society. With elements of internal colonisation, relief programmes aimed to stimulate agrarian capitalism, a free market, and the transition of Highland cottars into landless, proletarianized labourers who were forced to sell labour and purchase food in that free market. This governance arguably made Highlanders more food insecure. Considering the efforts of the Edinburgh Section and the destitution road project, however, this research queries the overly-paradigmatic nature of Foucault's (2007) theorised shift from sovereign-territorial power to a governmental-population regime, and its application to the governmentalisation of famine. Contrary to this paradigmatic interpretation, territory does not disappear from governmental concern but is considered in a new way. The Edinburgh Section's governmental intervention through road construction within the boundaries of their relief area entailed the transformation of Highland land into a territory which could be governed according to the Section's capitalist political ideologies. As such, territory was a 'political technology' in the governmentalisation of famine (Elden, 2013). The destitution road project calculated and managed networks and flows through Highland terrain, which made a Highland territory that was a coherent 'spatio-political object' for the Edinburgh Section's governing policies and ideologies (Painter, 2010: 1104). In particular, control over Highland territory enabled networks of free market trade to circulate the Highlands, encouraged flows of waged labour and the proletarianization of Highland labourers, and stimulated new territorial property regimes and agricultural organisation for profit. Control of territory encouraged a shift from a tenancy system in which Highlanders possessed the means to subsistence towards a capitalist system that that was based on waged labour and commoditised food. This dissertation, therefore, concludes that the calculation and management of territory, as well as populations, must be considered in research into the governmentalisation of famine.

UG-21/02

An exploration of processes of de/politicisation in the French Citizens' Convention on Climate

Citizens assemblies on climate change are growing in popularity at the local, national, and even global scale. They are lauded as a way to bring about ambitious climate action, bringing citizens' voices to the forefront on climate change, an issue where policymaking is often dominated by inaction from politicians and overly technical issue frames. However, this form of 'deliberative democracy' is also highly criticised by some for 'depoliticising' climate change, creating exclusions through consensus-seeking processes and preventing thinking beyond dominant societal paradigms, thus foreclosing visions of alternative futures. This dissertation seeks to explore processes of depoliticisation and politicisation of climate change within the French Citizens' Convention on Climate (CCC), focusing on three core axes of reflection: consensus, the discursive framing of climate change, and expertise. It carries out a discourse analysis of videos of the Conventions sessions and the Convention's final policy proposal document, as well as supporting documentary material. It shows that, contrary to those who argue that deliberative approaches are strongly depoliticising (Machin, 2013; Pepermans and Maeseele, 2016), both depoliticisation and politicisation of climate change take place within the CCC. It also highlights that framing climate change as not only a technical, but a social justice issue, is a core driver of politicisation, allowing citizens to challenge expert framings and understand society as contingent, enabling citizens to think beyond dominant societal paradigms. This dissertation suggests that future work should study depoliticisation and politicisation in citizens' assemblies, providing policy relevant insights and informing ongoing debates about whether it is best to tackle climate change through politicisation or depoliticisation.

UG-21/03 An investigation of trends in fire occurrence and recurrence, burn severity, and vegetation health in the (Indigenous) Bolivian Amazon.

Due to the small percentage of Amazonian forest in Bolivia, fire in the Bolivian Amazon generally receives less coverage than in other countries. Despite this, large portions of the country have recently faced greater fire outbreaks. The causes of these fires are anthropogenic; however, not all forest users contribute to this equally. Indigenous communities have been hailed as successful forest users of fire.
Thus, an investigation into the spatial variation of fire outbreaks and effects focusing on the difference between Indigenous lands and other lands may offer helpful insights. Using remote sensing products and vegetation indices, this study investigates the spatial distribution of fire occurrence and recurrence, burn severity, and vegetation health, focusing on land-cover and land tenure. The results show a significant difference between expected and observed frequencies of fire occurrence across land-covers and a significant difference between fire occurrence in Indigenous lands and other lands in five land-cover types. No statistically significant results could be drawn from burn severity trends; however, Indigenous lands appeared to suffer less severe burns. Statistically significant trends were identified in four land-cover change time series and one NDVI time series.

UG-21/04 Putting the Brakes on Fast Fashion: Investigating Barriers to the Growth of Slow Fashion

Fast fashion is a $1.6 trillion dollar industry that is responsible for some of the most pressing social and environmental crises humanity faces. These include, inter alia, climate change, modern day slavery, precarious working environments and gender based violence both in the developed and developing world (Hoskins, 2014; Anguelov, 2015). However, since the late 2000s, an alternative paradigm has emerged - one that represents a departure from decades of socio-environmental decay under the incumbent fast fashion business model. This alternative enterprise is known as 'slow fashion', and it is steered on a foundation of climate positivity and social empowerment. The slow fashion movement has gathered some momentum over the last few years with positive change happening both at the institutional and consumer levels. However, despite the interest in slow approaches to fashion amongst academics, companies, consumers and the media, significant barriers to full-scale adoption remain.
This dissertation aims to unpack the roadblocks which stand in the way of slow fashion's growth. The study triangulates data from interviews conducted with 7 CEOs of UK-based slow fashion companies and questionnaire data garnered from 110 young adults from various parts of the UK. I propose that there are three different types of barriers facing slow fashion: (1) demand-side barriers; (2) supply-side barriers and; (3) systemic barriers. In turn, this dissertation helps to reveal that in order to transition the fashion industry to a more sustainable future, interventions are not only needed at the level of the consumer and the firm, but they are also needed at the level of the political economy. These findings consequently enrich previous studies on the barriers to slow fashion and highlight areas of action for policy makers and future researchers.


Key words: fast fashion, slow fashion, sustainability, sustainable fashion, neoliberal capitalism.

UG-21/05

Unequal foodscapes of plenty - An investigation into the socio-spatial food provisioning
strategies of low-income migrant mothers in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, urban food insecurity is a pressing issue that low-income families must overcome every day. Using data from a survey and 21 semi-structured interviews, this dissertation investigates how and why low-income Chinese migrant mothers living in the Sham Shui Po district use a variety of socio-spatial strategies to provide food for their families. Drawing on concepts from both feminist and food geographies, the research traces the women's embodied, social, and spatial experiences with food provisioning starting from food acquisition to preparation and consumption. Findings highlight how their food provisioning strategies are characterised by dynamic forms of mobility between and within the public urban space and the private domestic space. Food acquisition occurs via three key avenues: personal purchase, formal charity food assistance, and informal networks. Decisions to utilise these avenues are governed by cost, food quality and quantity; the women also needed to simultaneously navigate embodied and temporal constraints imposed by childcare responsibilities. Strategies for food preparation involved negotiating domestic spatial constraints and food preferences of family members that subsequently govern differential modes of food consumption. The study also emphasises the value of social networks as a vital source of knowledge and material food exchange within the women's food provisioning strategies. Ultimately, these women have the resourceful and adaptive ability to selectively deploy social and/or spatial food provisioning strategies across various sites to obtain affordable and quality food tailored to the needs of their family members. These strategies require navigating various constraints which are shaped by their class, gender, and the wider urban context. The study's outcomes contribute towards research efforts seeking to understand the context-specific manifestations of, and coping mechanisms against urban food insecurity for low-income families.

UG-21/06

Use of a remotely sensed landform assemblage on a Svalbard glacial
forefield to determine the cause and nature of Little Ice Age glacial advance and subsequent retreat

This project uses a landform assemblage approach to determine the glacial history of Von Postbreen in western Spitsbergen, Svalbard. Landforms in Von Postbreen's forefield are identified and interpreted using elevation data from the open access ArcticDEM and multi-swath fjord bathymetry. These data are supplemented with map sources and Landsat imagery that mark the glacier's changing extent through time. The landforms identified are used to analyse Von Postbreen's history. Aspects investigated are the likelihood of a Little Ice Age surge of the glacier, the nature and speed of its subsequent retreat, and differing landform preservation potentials between the submarine and terrestrial areas of the forefield. The landform assemblage at Von Postbreen was compared to a model, and is indicative of a surge during the Little Ice Age, in particular due to the presence of crevasse-squeeze ridges in the terrestrial forefield. The glacier has since undergone grounded retreated of 7.35km, at varying speeds through time, including a period of confluence with the adjacent glacier, Tunabreen. The landforms in both submarine and terrestrial environments have probably undergone alteration, by melt-out of ice-cored landforms in both environments, draping by sediments in submarine areas, and fluvial and aeolian erosion in terrestrial areas.

UG-21/07 Learning to Be Affected at the IDEAL Society Ecovillage: An
Embodied Education for a Posthumanist Economic World

Through the lens of the Diverse Economies literature, this dissertation investigates the diverse more-than-capitalist economic practices, ontologies, and educational systems of the IDEAL Society ecovillage in British Columbia, Canada. As we head towards environmental and climate crisis, it is becoming increasingly clear that the capitalist mode of production is failing to adequately protect both people and the environment. The ontologies underpinning the capitalist economy render the more-than-human world as a passive resource for humans to exploit - it calls for new ways of thinking that rework the relationship between economy and ecology, so that we can produce economic actors who choose to perform a fairer, more sustainable economic world. Cultivating more ethical economic subjects relies upon interrupting capitalist identities and instilling ontologies that create a moral imperative for us to act in the interests of the nonhuman world as well as our own. The ecovillage model is a prominent way in which groups are trying to develop a radically new economic ethics. People around the world are generating alternative lifestyles based upon revising the human relationship with interdependent ecosystems through communal living and emotional development. Here, I examine the ways in which the IDEAL Society's educational model makes use of affective encounters to cultivate and to instil such an ethics. Engaging with Latour's (2004) concept of 'learning to be affected', this dissertation uses visual methods as well as interviews and textual material to investigate the opportunities and encounters afforded by this model to be affected and transformed. After first tracing the performance of the economy of the IDEAL Society, I analyse the modes of engagement with the environment that its members are actively constructing, before uncovering the affective and somatic experiences through which these are maintained and taught to others. Although it is unclear whether the ecovillage itself is capable of long-lasting, performative change outside of its boundaries, in amplifying the potential of its practices, this work supports an urgent call for transformative research so that such groups can help guide towards a solution for a more ethical, sustainable economic world in the future.

UG-21/08 Surface velocity mapping of the Larsen C Ice Shelf: assessing the ice dynamic response to the A-68 calving event

The impact of ice shelf change on ice sheet dynamics is an important area of research due to the buttressing effect which ice shelves provide to grounded ice, regulating ice discharge and therefore ice sheet contributions to sea level rise. Widespread ice shelf collapse on the Antarctic Peninsula since the late twentieth century has resulted in the acceleration and dynamic thinning of previously buttressed outlet glaciers, contributing to a regional mass loss of 23.8Gt yr-1 between 1979 and 2017 (Rignot et al., 2019). Studying the effects of ice shelf mass loss on ice dynamics is therefore important in enabling improved predictions of rates of ice sheet decline. This study assesses the ice dynamic impacts of a major iceberg calving event which occurred in July 2017 on the Larsen C Ice Shelf (LCIS). Through applying offset tracking techniques to Sentinel-1 synthetic aperture radar imagery, surface velocity mapping was used to detect dynamic responses to ice shelf mass loss in the three months following the calving of iceberg A-68, across both floating and grounded ice. The results indicate that velocities in the centre of the ice shelf increased by up to 112.2m yr-1 following calving, though this figure likely encompasses the effects of ocean tides on satellite-derived measurements of ice shelf movement. Surface velocity measurements along nine tributary glaciers to the LCIS indicated no clear dynamic response in the three months following iceberg calving. As such, these results provide empirical support to previous model-based studies, which have suggested that the A-68 calving had little impact on the buttressing transmitted by the LCIS to grounded ice (Fürst et al., 2016; Borstad et al., 2017).

UG-21/09

Punishing the Periphery?

Exploring the lived impacts of contemporary austerity on domiciliary care services in rural Norfolk

Through examining the impact of contemporary austerity on the provision of domiciliary care in rural Norfolk, this study takes austerity studies out of their traditionally urban setting. The dissertation combines qualitative research interviews with health and demographic statistics to explore how national neoliberal austerity policies can filter down to have everyday impacts on those giving or receiving care in rural homes. Findings show how through systematic cuts to Norfolk County Council's funding from central government, austerity was able to add further strain on already pressurised care systems. This has had a range of embodied impacts across those involved within domiciliary care, demonstrating that rural austerity is very real.

UG-21/10

Tracing Past Atmospheres of the Arbroath Abbey Pageants, Scotland, 1949-1956

This dissertation traces the affective atmospheres of the historical pageants held annually at Arbroath Abbey between 1949 and 1956. The Arbroath Abbey Pageants were historical re-enactments of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath. In particular, this dissertation examines the staging of atmosphere by illumination at the Arbroath Abbey Pageants. Two major contributions are made to the study of affective atmospheres. First, I conceptualise 'atmospheres of enchantment' as having filled the Abbey during the pageant performances, captivating pageant attendees. These atmospheres are found to have been co-produced not only by illumination, but by meteorology, accident and the agency of individuals present. Second, a Spinozian reading of affect elucidates the feeling of 'national potential' that emerged from the Arbroath Abbey Pageants. Specifically, the lighting of a beacon in the Abbey ruins is credited with suffusing the scene with a feeling of potential, possibility and forward movement. This dissertation concludes with a series of methodological and epistemological reflections on the possibility and promise of 'tracing' past atmospheres. Whilst the Arbroath Abbey Pageants from 1949 to 1956 are evidenced to show that past atmospheres can be traced, a series of limitations of an historical study to atmospheres are offered. It is hoped that these reflections can inform future efforts to trace past atmospheres in geography and, more broadly, across the social sciences.

Key words: Affect, Atmosphere, Enchantment, Historical pageantry

UG-21/11 (currently unavailable due to large file size not being browsable online. Apologies)

how do homeless people in Haringey, London experience austerity?

exploring the experiences of Tessa and Lukas

Since UK austerity policies began in 2010, homelessness across the country has risen rapidly, with particularly high increases in London. This dissertation uses ethnographic photoelicitation research with two participants, Tessa and Lukas, to understand homeless experiences of austerity in Haringey, London. To do this, the dissertation coins the term "homeless austerity", which refers to a distinct experience of austerity for homeless people that characterises life in the austere city. Through a feminist relational understanding of the everyday, this dissertation argues that homeless austerity is a differentiated and unequal experience, but one which can be resisted through everyday practices. This dissertation finds that, in the first instance, homeless austerity is characterised by exclusion from benefits through the inaccessibility of Universal Credit. Crucially, this exclusion from state support, wherein neither Tessa nor Lukas received benefits while they were rough sleeping, significantly impacted their everyday experiences. Indeed, this dissertation finds that experiences of austerity for Tessa and Lukas are varied and differentiated, characterised by experiences such as worry and exclusion. Furthermore, these experiences are unequal as they are premised on intersectional inequalities, where the overlap of race and gender leads to processes of home (un)making in shelter spaces. Yet, crucially, these differentiated and unequal experiences can be resisted through quietly political practices which are crucial to Tessa and Lukas getting by during homeless austerity. This dissertation reveals the need for economic geographers to broaden their epistemologies and methodologies to incorporate economic experiences at microgeographical scales to add nuance to larger-scale understandings of the economy.

UG-21/12

Investigating the effect of supraglacial debris-cover on modelled ablation using an enhanced positive degree-day approach: Mer de Glace, French Alps.

Many retreating glaciers are characterised by increasing supraglacial debris-cover, but the effect of debris-cover on surface ablation rates is rarely included in models of glacier evolution. This study investigates how supraglacial debris-cover affects ablation rates using a positive degree-day approach, which is more widely applicable than physically-based models due to low in-situ data requirements, alongside satellite remote sensing and numerical modelling. This is conducted on the debris-covered tongue of Mer de Glace, France's largest glacier. This study finds supraglacial debris-cover increased at 0.76-78p.p./yr between 1985 and 2020, from about 45% to over 70%. This rapid increase emphasises the importance of understanding how debris-cover affects ablation rates. Derived degree-day factors for clean and debris-covered ice are 5.8 and 3.3mm d-1 °C-1 respectively, suggesting debris-cover strongly reduces melt rates at the point-scale. Accounting for potential direct solar radiation (PDSR) is insignificant, likely because there is little summer-long variation in PDSR receipts across the tongue. Debris-cover reduces modelled glacier-wide summer ablation by 18.3% (1985-94) and 24.5% (2003-12), suggesting a substantial and increasing glacier-wide melt-reducing effect of debris-cover. Modelled ablation is most sensitive to temperature change, closely followed by debris-cover change, and relatively insensitive to glacier retreat and thinning. Overall, modelled mean summer ablation increases by 0.30m w.e. between the two periods. This study concludes that supraglacial debris-cover on Mer de Glace substantially reduces modelled melt rates at the point- and glacier-scale, reducing mass balance sensitivity to climate change, but this is insufficient to prevent increasing melt rates as temperatures rise. This suggests models may overestimate mass balance sensitivity to climate change unless they adequately account for debris-cover. However, further study is required to establish how supraglacial ponds and ice-cliffs and spatially variable debris thickness affect glacier-wide melt rates, which could not be considered here due to a lack of in-situ data.

UG-21/13

THANK GOD IT'S THURSDAY?

Critically exploring the work-life balance business case of the four-day week

This dissertation explores the work-life balance business case of the four-day week (4DW) in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK. This dissertation finds that implementation of the 4DW has increased dramatically in CEO-led SMEs in the UK over the last two years, specifically in creative and fast-paced industries. Flows of information about the model have proliferated between firms in similar geographies and industry spheres. Despite the model's rising use, business motivations for adopting the 4DW, alongside impacts on employees have not been properly addressed. This dissertation utilises a work-life balance (WLB) business case lens to a) assess business motivations for, and impacts of, adopting the model and b) uncover how the model impacts everyday employee experiences of WLB. This dissertation finds that business leaders adopting the 4DW must foresee financial reward (through recruitment, productivity and better job performance). Secondary to this comes their altruistic desires to improve the WLB of their employees. Amongst employees, there is almost universal support for the model, but for various reasons. The impacts of the 4DW were dependent on life-course; individuals with significant work-life conflict used the model for better balance, but most workers used their day off to take on extra paid work. Therefore, the relationship between the 4DW and improved WLB is not linear: this finding should be considered by actors advocating for and implementing the 4DW going forward.

UG-21/14

Navigating (Il)legal Art

Producing Street Art in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Situated in the rapidly growing street art scene of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, this dissertation attempts to unite literature of legal geography and gentrification to offer a critical geographical analysis of the production of street art in East London. A recent policy introduced by Tower Hamlets Council effectively legalises what it terms to be 'street art': employing a policy analysis, complemented by ten interviews with artists, local residents and the lead policymaker, as well as a bespoke derivative of photo elicitation that draws upon the work of Andron (2017; 2018a), I adopt the analytical schema of legal geography to interrogate the construction of 'street art' on legal terms. I organise my findings into the conceptualisation of three frontiers. Firstly, I find that legalisation semiotically and discursively demarcates a legal frontier (Blomley 2003a) between street art and graffiti such that graffiti contests property and street art complements property. Secondly, I find that legalisation produces street art by actively favouring work that is perceived to have economic value, mobilising a gentrifying frontier between street art and the graffiti that threatens street art. Finally, I draw upon radical spatial theory to contend that legalisation operationalises these frontiers spatially, to produce the 'right' spaces for street art in the context of the late-capitalist, postmodern city. Overall, this dissertation finds that the legally objective production of 'street art' is a form of legal reproduction, casting a spatial objectivity sometimes in contention with artists' re-imaginings of urban space. I argue that legal geography can perceptively account for the production of street art in such a way, but that more research is needed in the geographical discipline to form a sustained engagement with the contemporary governance and production of late-capitalist urban aesthetics – I call, that is, for a legal geograffi.

Older dissertations

Number

Title

Abstract

UG-16/01 Tephra retention and changing vegetation structure in Iceland

Recent studies of tephra layers (deposits of pyroclastic fragments produced during a volcano) suggest that the morphology of preserved layers can act as high resolution proxy records for ancient vegetation patterns. Tephra layers provide isochronous markers within time sequences and their form reflects the surface stability, height and spatial patterning of the vegetation on to which it fell. This dissertation will explore the relationship between tephra deposition and vegetation structure at the boundary between open grassland and closed woodland in Iceland. Tephra depth, vegetation characteristics and edge conditions will be investigated to model how changing vegetation structure predicts tephra depth.


Preface:
This project has shifted focus slightly from the original abstract. My original aims have not changed substantially, but during the fieldwork, it became apparent that I would be unable to investigate edge effects and transitions in vegetation type as intended because no suitable sites were located. This meant that my analysis became more comparative; investigating the relationships between and within sites of different vegetation structure rather than across vegetation transitions.

UG-17/01 Morals and Mignonette, or the use of flowers in the regulation of women, children and the working classes in late Victorian London

This dissertation explores the deployment of flower missions, flower shows, and window gardening in late-Victorian efforts to elevate the moral and material condition of London's working poor. Through an archival investigation, predominantly of pamphlet literature from the 1860s-90s, I extend Foucault's anthropocentric conception of 'biopolitics' to encompass all life in the consideration of flowers as non-human agencies, constitutive of environments and their inhabitants through their human attachments. This dissertation identifies three themes key to the understanding of the use of flowers in this period: moral, pedagogic, and civic botany. The construction of a 'moral botany' in early-nineteenth-century literature popularised the notion that flowers could carry meaning beyond their ornamental value and thus become useful. This attribute was widely utilised by social reformers who employed flower shows as biopolitical instruments in order to discipline the desires, habits, and behaviours of the working poor and their children as 'future citizens'. I argue that these projects were heavily gendered as a result of the traditionally 'feminine' associations of flowers, as well as the perceived position of women as 'closer to nature', with the effect of placing responsibility for the moral defence of the family upon the shoulders of the woman. Floral reform movements were also influenced by late-nineteenth-century fears of racial degeneration. As such, the promotion of floriculture amongst the working classes not only worked at the scale of the individual body, but also in the improvement of the condition of the population as a whole. It concludes that the mobilisation of flowers played a vital role in the moral regulation of women, children, and the working classes, necessitating the inclusion of plant life in conceptions of biopolitics.

UG-18/01 Anticipating 'The Big One': Everyday Perceptions and Understandings of Earthquake Risk in San Francisco

Situated alongside the infamous San Andreas fault network, the city of San Francisco is prone to experiencing earthquakes. Most frequently, these are of a low magnitude and hence result in minimal impacts. However, forecasting models suggest that there is a high chance that the city and the wider Bay area will experience a magnitude 6.7 or higher earthquake within the next thirty years, with some seismologists and the media also alluding to the possibility of a future earthquake of magnitude eight: 'The Big One'. This dissertation will explore the extent to which earthquake risk has become an accepted and normalised part of everyday life for residents in the city and will examine whether the population of San Francisco are physically, structurally and socially prepared for a potential 'Big One'.

The extent of individual earthquake risk preparedness has been shown to be closely tied to risk perceptions, which vary widely amongst residents. As such, this dissertation will explore three key factors which influence this spatial variability: earthquake experience, subconscious risk acceptance or denial, and cognitive understanding of seismic processes. Ultimately, not one single factor can be used to explain all of the observed variability, with risk perceptions being highly complex, and different factors affecting members of the population in varying ways. Effective communication is essential to guarantee risk awareness amongst the population and ensure preparedness actions are adopted.

UG-20/01

The 9 year aftershock: The long-term impacts and effect cascades triggered by recovery efforts following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake

This study investigates the recovery process in Christchurch following the 2011 earthquake.

Specifically, it will investigate how recovery efforts over the past nine years have propagated the direct effects of the earthquake and triggered secondary impact cascades – a novel approach within post-disaster research. It will analyse the social dynamics of these cascading effects, and how they can lead to lasting change within communities. In order to effectively carry out this analysis the following research questions will be explored:

(1) Where has the focus of recovery been?

(2) How have recovery efforts caused and propagated cascading effects?

(3) Post-disaster Christchurch – business as usual or the new normal?

Primary data was collected through semi-structured interviews with those who have been directly involved in the recovery process, and coded in order to draw out themes that contribute to the current literature.

Overall, this study will show that there is a general lack of understanding with regard to the social dynamics of recovery-induced effect cascades in the aftermath of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. It highlights that the effects caused and propagated by recovery strategy, and decisions made at government level, can have lasting effects on communities if they are not realised. This study intends to provide a foundation for future work within the field of post-disaster recovery and cascading disasters. It advises that the complexities and impacts of recovery in practice need to be better understood by both the research community and by authorities, in order to achieve more effective long-term recovery and prevent lasting damage to vulnerable communities.

UG-20/02

Hybridised citizenship in an off-grid community: A study of citizenship formation and practices in Scoraig

In recent years, new concepts have emerged in citizenship studies such as 'post-national citizenship' and 'everyday citizenship' to explain the quickly evolving state of citizenship. The traditional understanding of citizenship as the relationship between an individual and the nation-state, defined by a set of rights and obligations, has been unsettled in recent decades by global trends of neoliberalism, migration and globalisation. Simultaneously, individuals and groups becoming disillusioned with the current socio-political setting are seeking out alternative ways to live, and creating alternative communities in order to do so. This dissertation studies one such alternative community, based on the peninsula of Scoraig in Scotland, to investigate how rejecting the mainstream and choosing an alternative lifestyle impacts citizenship. Based on 3 weeks of ethnographic research in Scoraig, this dissertation investigates first how and why members of this off-grid community identify as alternative, then explores the construction and embodiment of their citizenship using the lenses of the community and the everyday. It aims to understand the complexities of Scoraig citizenship by considering the agency of residents in its production, in order to deconstruct the binary understanding of mainstream and alternative citizenships. Based on these areas of investigation, this dissertation argues that Scoraig citizenship is neither mainstream nor alternative: rather, it is a hybridisation of aspects of both of these types of citizenship.

UG-20/03

A tribute to my mother - Investigating invisibilities and 'sandwiched' mothers in austerity - Gateshead

Listening to the stories of ten mothers aged 45 – 65 living in Gateshead, I explore how austerity reinforces the gendered, demographic, and neoliberal pressures they face. Their stories of survival, resistance, acceptance, and love echo the experiences I have witnessed as a daughter living in the area throughout my life. 'A Tribute to My Mother' documents the stresses this cohort face by investigating the conscious, and unconscious, weaponisation of their care work by the austere state. Using the care ecology framework by Bowlby and Mckie (2018) I discover how a mother's individual caring-scape can heighten and limit, but also fail to address, the embodied violence of austerity (O'Hara, 2014). Finally, I make a case for more personal and intimate research in which the participants' connection to the researcher is one of value and necessity in uncovering highly personal data. Only then can we make visible how national and international change affects people and societies at their roots. Through this process, previous invalidities become valid considerations for investigating 'sandwiched' mothers and the pressures they endure.

UG-20/04

"Heavens below": Excavating Roland Paoletti's underground spectacle of (post?)modernity on London's Jubilee Line Extension

This dissertation seeks to evaluate how spectacular underground urban spaces can be produced, through a detailed examination of the "heavens below" of the Jubilee Line Extension project ['JLE']. Drawing from the increasing interest amongst geographers in volumetric urbanism and subterranean geopolitics, as well as established urban theory on architecture and postmodernity, this research investigates the role of volumetric underground excavation in the ability for architects to deliver 'bold and beautiful' public designs. Through 15 in-depth elite interviews with JLE project members, as well as extensive written and photographic field notes from the stations today, an evaluation is undertaken as to how such spectacular urban spaces successfully arose.

Firstly, it will analyse how disruptive Thatcherite reforms to London Regional Transport led to the geopolitical employment of a new urban expertise from Hong Kong's MTR authority – an engineering expertise bringing with it to London a distinct, volumetric culture of excavating urban space underground. Alongside this, it will then analyse the philosophy of flamboyant modernism underlying chief architect Roland Paoletti's radical vision for the 11 stations, evaluating the extent to which this aligns with Levenson's (2002: 233) contention that millennium architecture in London 2000 represents "complicated tones of modernism-within-postmodernity". Finally, it brings these cultures of engineering and architecture together to assess the extent to which volumetric urbanism facilitated or not Roland Paoletti's vibrant architectural vision for underground urban fabric. Collectively, these demonstrate that delivering such 'bold and beautiful' modernist designs isn't just influenced by political and cultural moments in civic history, but also by a discrete subterranean geography of the city.

UG-20/05

Measuring retreat of the Penny Ice Cap, Southern Baffin Island, since the Little Ice Age

This project uses the new Arctic DEM dataset of 2 m resolution Digital Elevation Model (DEM) imagery to identify 98 Little Ice Age (LIA) moraines around the Penny Ice Cap (6300 km2), Southern Baffin Island. Using Landsat imagery, outlines of the ice cap are created for different years (1985, 1997, 2006 & 2019) by automatic delineation of ice, from which the retreat distance can be measured. When combined, the two provide an estimate of the spatial and temporal variation in rates of retreat around the Penny Ice Cap over the last 140 years. Averaged across the icecap as a whole, the rate of retreat was calculated as 6.4 m yr−1 for LIA-1985, 8.3 m yr−1 for 1985-1997, 15.0 m yr−1, for 1997-2006, and 14.3 m yr−1 for 2006-2019. Further analysis of the spatial variation shows rate of retreat to be highest for glaciers in the south and lowest for glaciers in the west. Much of this variation likely relates to the behaviour and characteristics of valley glaciers compared to ice cap outlet glaciers and their spatial distribution around Penny Ice Cap. The results also show rate of retreat to be highest for larger valley glaciers measured by area, size of drainage basin, and length.

UG-20/06

Social Contact & the Social Contract : Understanding the Reality of Refugee Integration Policy & Practice in Stockholm, Sweden

In the advent of the 2015 so-called 'migrant crisis' geopolitical tensions have captured the imaginations of citizens, political institutions and the media alike, altering the political landscape of Europe. Long heralded as an 'inclusive and welcoming country', in 2016 Sweden took in more refugees per capita than any other European country. This dissertation assesses the reality for refugees following arrival in Stockholm, highlighting the barriers that pose a challenge to effective and long-term integration. Through an ethnographic study comprising of interviews, participant observation and ethnographic walks, this paper emphasises the unintended consequences of state policy and societal norms on refugee integration.

Drawing on observations of civil society projects a discussion of their crucial role in mitigating integration barriers demonstrates NGOs unique and beneficial positionality, particularly in relation to the perception of integration as a 'two-way process'. The research highlights grassroots initiatives as crucial, encouraging meaningful social interaction which teaches the unsaid 'social contract'. This knowledge works to empower refugees, providing the resources and networks needed to access their rights and enact their right to the city. The importance of utilising this status to build trust and meaningful social connection between refugees and the host society is emphasised. Advocating a more holistic approach to refugee integration policy and practice this dissertation demonstrates that the multi-faceted and complex nature of integration demands a more cohesive and collaborative dialogue between state and civil society to enable integration policies of effect, reach and longevity.

UG-20/07

If it bleeds, it leads: the changing nature of Red Nose Day appeal videos from 1985 to 2019

Debates about visual representations of international development have received much scholarly interest. Controversy over the use of images of suffering is a long-standing and emotional dispute that calls into question the commercialisation of pain and the pornography of poverty. This dissertation builds on the well-established literature, by turning academic attention to Red Nose Day appeal videos for the first time. The changes in the videos from 1985 to 2019, with regards to the uses of celebrity advocates, representations of children and presentation of development solutions are investigated through a content and discourse analysis. This dissertation comes at a watershed moment for Comic Relief and for Red Nose Day appeal videos. Recent debate and discussion about representations of development is contextualised and explored through a Twitter analysis of the #StaceyDooley row. There have been significant shifts in the Red Nose Day appeal videos since 1985 and an acceleration of such changes in recent years. With a transition from sad to glad appeals, a celebrity step-back and an acknowledgement of complexity, Comic Relief enters a new representational regime. This has considerable implications for wider and related discussions, including compassion fatigue and the white saviour complex.

UG-20/08

How green is the Green Line? An investigation into air pollution in the London Underground

This investigation aims to study the air quality to which commuters are exposed when using the London Underground system. Pollutants PM2.5 and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are used as key indicators of air quality, with the former chosen due to its size fraction relevance to deep lung penetration and respiratory disease (Xing et al., 2016), and the latter for its prevalence in pollution discourse. The study characterises both spatial and temporal aspects of personal air quality exposure along the route of the morning commute and throughout the working week. Two key influences are considered: the 'carriage effect' and the 'commuter effect'. The carriage effect produces an internal micro environment within the carriage, creating a sealed environment which can either act to increase or reduce air quality compared to that outside of the train. Commuter behaviour results in the speculated 'commuter effect' with individual passengers acting as both sources and redistributors of PM2.5.

UG-20/09

Creating an atmosphere in space: architecture and sound in the production of affective atmospheres

People colloquially speak of a building, stadium or lecture theatre as having an atmosphere; public space is no different. Urban literature has thus far failed to look beyond the positivist sensibilities of public space, overlooking its affective qualities; meanwhile, atmospheres are yet to be extensively analysed from a constitutive perspective, choosing to focus instead on their political implications. By focusing on Millennium Park, Chicago, this dissertation considers the ways in which a shifting flow of atmosphere is generated by architectural design, spatial arrangements, acoustic attunements, and bodily interactions. This dissertation therefore explores the emergence and staging of affective atmospheres in Millennium Park, bringing architectural and acoustic literatures of atmosphere into dialogue to offer a contemporary reading of affect. Driven by Böhme (1993) and influenced by Anderson (2009), affective atmospheres are understood as the spatializations of affective qualities and explored via multimodal research methods. I utilise mobile methodologies and integrate audio-visual methods into the writing process to attempt to capture and translate the inherently fleeting, ephemeral nature of atmospheres. This dissertation finds that attempts to engineer affective atmospheres only succeed at 'stabilising' affect. While the Park's design provides the spaces for specific atmospheres to emerge, such that it is filled with the potential to affect, unpredictable actions, sounds and interpretations mean that the Parkshapes, butdoes not determine the atmosphere. Of particular importance is the arrival of human bodies who are shown to charge and reorientate atmospheres in ways that eschew design intentions, reiterating its fragile and provisional nature. Secondly, atmospheres are found to be compositional, emerging at the intersection of multiple stimuli as a product of many sensations woven together and sensed holistically. Architecture and sound are shown to be important but partial generators of atmosphere. I therefore call on further research to adopt similarly multi-sensory analysis and emphasise the need for experimental methods.

Key Word(s): affective atmosphere; affect; architecture; sound; phenomenology.

UG-20/10

An examination of the role of place in influencing terrorism fears - Manchester Victoria Station

This dissertation explores how terrorism fears are influenced by place, with the research focussing on Manchester Victoria Station. The station was host to a terror attack on New Year's Eve 2018, whilst also being heavily impacted by the terror attack at the neighbouring Manchester Arena in May 2017. Thus, the station can provide an interesting locus in which to explore the relationships between place and terrorism fears. Using data from sixteen in-person interviews with station users, station shop owners and key stakeholders involved in the station's security operations, I find that terrorism fears are strongly influenced by place features, situated experiences and identities at Manchester Victoria. I demonstrate that the visibility of securitised features and the publicness of the concourse are important in shaping fear, whilst the Arena attack memorial can conjure various geographical imaginations and forms of socialisation that affect fear. I also show that the relative visibility of terrorism and everyday crime in people's experiences at Victoria can influence vulnerability perceptions, whilst situated identities can be significant for how the station users understand, respond to and resist fear-inspiring events. Overall, the findings illuminate the operation of a number of common yet competing imaginaries of the station that influence people's terrorism fears. Thus, this dissertation provides an empirical focus for feminist geopolitics scholarship, responding to calls for research to explore how people experience place in the aftermath of terrorist incidents.

UG-20/11

Breaking laws, breaking norms? - An investigation into post-feminist performances of female identity and empowerment in an age of rising knife crime.

Drawing on the experiences of 12 young women, and insights from 6 adults in the youth services profession, this dissertation seeks to explore whether conventional gender identity norms are being overturned by women's increasing involvement in knife crime. It deploys a Foucauldian-feminist theoretic of power to consider female criminality as both a submission to and subversion of male control over the body in public space. Acknowledging the female body as a site of contested gender realms, this dissertation starts by analysing the rise in women's knife crime as a form of feminist resistance against idealised versions of femininity and male power. Looking beyond existing literature on feminist materiality, it draws attention to the knife as a new feminist artefact and the agency it has in advancing the contemporary feminist agenda. Alongside a rising feminist agenda, it traces the scalar nature of institutionalised patriarchy to demonstrate the persistence of disciplinary techniques dictating appropriate gender performances in what has been termed the 'Victorian Present". While knife crime offers opportunities for resistance, it becomes evident that long-established gender relations continue to structure the lives of the young women interviewed. Their identities are shaped in contradictory ways and this tension works to highlight the complex nature of contemporary gender politics. Whilst it is commonly accepted that we are living in an increasingly feminist era, literature is yet to study this through the contemporary rise in female knife offenders; through a unique approach to feminist geographical study,this dissertation seeks to add to activist scholarship, recognising the need within both academia and policy for deeper discussions about gender culture.

Content Notice: Physical violence, knife crime, gang violence and exploitation, explicit language.

UG-20/12

Transformation or Embodied Violence? - The Impact of Contemporary Austerity on Worcestershire Library Service Employees

This project examines the impact of contemporary austerity on employees of Evesham, Redditch, and The Hive libraries in Worcestershire. Semi-structured interviews are used to investigate how austerity has affected Worcestershire Library Service employees' roles and emotional experiences in their job, putting these voices in critical conversation with local, national and international logics of austerity. In contrast to neoliberal logics of austerity which describe library service changes as promoting necessary efficiency and positive 'transformation', frontline staff perspectives highlight: ever-increasing workloads and responsibilities; increasing numbers and needs of vulnerable service users; declining wages and workers' rights; increasing feelings of discomfort, frustration, stress and distress; and melancholic and pessimistic affective atmospheres. This reinforces contemporary understandings of austerity as violent, and extends these theorisations to emphasise the important embodied, emotional aspects to this violence, and the nuanced role of public servants as perpetrators, protectors and victims in these violent conditions. An emphasis on Worcestershire highlights the important, often overlooked, impacts of austerity in rural areas, and areas where cuts have been less severe. It is argued that in order to tackle the continuous revival of austerity as a powerful economic idea, the quiet politics of WLS staff must be made loud and austerity must be reframed as a form of embodied violence.

UG-20/13

Bodies, borders and bugs: a discourse analysis of the Zika virus in news media

No abstract available.

UG-20/14

Investigating trends in thermokarst lake cover in the continuous permafrost zone: A new remote sensing approach.

Arctic environments are an urgent area of scientific research, due to their high sensitivity to rising global temperatures. Thermokarst lakes are a crucial element of Arctic environments, as they modify the stability of permafrost and release greenhouse gases. Shifts in thermokarst lake cover have been identified across many Arctic ecosystems, and are often attributed to climate change. However, future shifts in thermokarst lake cover are largely unpredictable, because observations to date have been based on infrequent sampling intervals. This is due to long standing methodological issues, including data availability and long processing times. By implementing a new methodological approach based in Google Earth Engine, this study investigated trends in thermokarst lake cover in two continuous permafrost regions at an annual resolution. At the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula, lake area showed negligible change over the 2013-2019 period, whilst lake number decreased (-12%). At Central Yakutia, both lake area and number increased (+24% and +22%, respectively) over the 2013-2019 period. At the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula, interannual variability in lake area was significantly related to interannual variability in snowfall (R-squared 0.73). This was attributed to the effect of precipitation on the water balance and surface ponding. At Central Yakutia, interannual variability in lake area was related to interannual variability in temperature (R-squared 0.31). Furthermore, it was suggested that lake area may not be exclusively controlled by the climate. This study was one of the first to investigate thermokarst lake area change at an annual resolution, and continued investigations under this new methodological approach could aid our ability to predict future changes in thermokarst lake cover. This could help us constrain the contribution of thermokarst lakes to the global greenhouse gas budget, and revise emissions targets to mitigate the effects of global warming.

UG-20/15 An Historical Geography of Tap Dance: Tapping into American Culture, Identity and Race Relations

This dissertation examines a widely unexplored field in geographical scholarship – tap dance in America. It analyses 'an' historical geography of tap dance, as there are many ways in which this narrative could be told and many voices which are often excluded and left unheard. From a cultural and historical perspective, this dissertation traces tap dance back to its colonial origins, through its evolution into popular culture in the 20th Century, and analyses tap's unique position in contemporary society today. Tap dance offers a lens into America's complex history of colonialism, race, class, and gender to name a few, as tap dancers and historians argue tap represents American identity, forming America's 'indigenous' dance. This study examines an intriguing historical geography through three scales: the body, sites and spaces and racial performance/performing race. The body has become a well-established focus in cultural geography, tying bodily movement and dance into non-representational theory and the broader social, cultural and political contexts in which bodies move. Simultaneously, the bodies of tap dancers have been included and excluded from particular sites and spaces in which tap has been practised and performed. This illustrates a variety of place-based geographies across the American North and South, in America's urban centres, and more recently, across the globe. Finally, tap's history in America cannot be analysed without reference to race. I argue tap has been shaped by historical race relations, such as conforming to the 'racial performance' of stereotypes, e.g. blackface minstrelsy, whilst in other cases contesting race relations to create a more inclusive community, through 'performing race' in the everyday. This study concludes that tap dance is a unique bodily movement which has played an important role in America's history, predominantly working as a force to bring people together from different countries, ethnicities, genders, classes and socio-economic backgrounds, rather than just as a product of these complex geographies.

UG-20/16 "It still feels like a pit village" - Affective atmospheres of mnemonic duration and perturbation in the post-industrial landscape of Clipstone Village, Nottinghamshire

Post-industrial landscapes have a feel. A feel of the past. Clipstone Village, North Nottinghamshire, is no different. To analyse this feeling, this dissertation will construct a heuristic framework from a Bergsonian conceptualisation of the co-existence of past and present in duration, in dialogue with Deleuzian and Guattarian understandings of affect as hazy and atmospheric. I use the terms 'affective mnemonic intensities' to capture the affective register of duration, and 'affective atmospheres of duration' to capture their diffusity. I mobilise vital methodologies to embrace, rather than obfuscate, the inherently unpredictable, 'not-quite-graspable', ephemeral affective mnemonic intensities, attuning to their atmospheric perturbations. These methods offer a non-superficial glimpse into the nonrepresentational 'background' of lived experience. With such insight, I argue that an affective atmosphere of duration is operative in Clipstone. Following Schmitzian notions of dynamic gestalt (Gestaltverläufe), my interlocutions confirm that a Bergsonian habitual memory pours out spatially and circulates around the village. The feel of the past is one of contracted virtuality and refrained affect. However, this is in tension with the excessiveness of the virtual past, always cutting in. Such excessiveness creates affective mnemonic intensities that perturb affective habitual refrain in the form of either: i) traumatic 'pure memory' actualization of the 1984-84 miners' strike or redundancy; or, ii) emancipatory 'involuntary memory' (mémoire involontaire). Affective mnemonic perturbations form 'pockets', dyadic 'spheres' or assemblages of enclosed atmospheric disruption which splinter and fragment collective flow. Affective atmospheres of duration are therefore operative at an osscilative threshold: between affective co-constitution and perturbation. Habitual contraction of the virtual flow is always unsettled by encounter. This is the organization of affective life and duration in the postindustrial landscape of Clipstone. This is how the past inheres, folds and gnaws into the present, affectively (dis)organizing/(un)structuring life as it flows. I conclude by reflecting on the ethical implications of these findings for future research.

Key word(s): affect, affective memory, affective atmospheres, post-industrial landscape