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Department of Geography


Anna M. Lawrence, BA MPhil

PhD student, Department of Geography and King’s College

Historical and cultural geographer interested in plant-human relations and researching the socio-political lives of flowers in Victorian Britain.



  • 2022-2023 Director of Studies in Geography, Sidney Sussex College
  • 2018-2022 PhD in Geography, University of Cambridge: Botanical Biopolitics: the Socio-Political Lives of Flowers in Victorian Britain, AHRC funded
  • 2017-2018 MPhil in Geographical Research, University of Cambridge, AHRC funded
  • 2014-2017 BA in Geography, University of Cambridge. Part II Dissertation: ‘Morals and Mignonette, or, The Use of Flowers in the Moral Regulation of Women, Children, and the Working Classes in Late-Victorian London’


  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, accredited 2021
  • MPhil in Geographical Research, University of Cambridge, (Distinction)
  • BA in Geography, University of Cambridge (Double First Class)

Funding and awards

  • Scholar, Plant Humanities Summer Program, Dumbarton Oaks (2020)
  • AHRC PhD Studentship (2018-21)
  • Honorary Vice-Chancellor’s Award, University of Cambridge (2018)
  • Philip Lake II Fund travel award, Department of Geography (2018)
  • AHRC MPhil Studentship (2017-18)
  • Royal Geographical Society HGRG Undergraduate Dissertation Prize (2017)
  • William Vaughan Lewis Dissertation Prize, Department of Geography (2017)
  • Downham Yeomans Scholarship, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (2016, 2017)
  • Gérard Boulton Travel Award, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (2017)
  • College Exhibition, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (2016)


My PhD research broadly examines the relations between humans and plants, focusing on the unique interactions between the Victorians and their flowers. Theoretically grounded in the interdisciplinary realm of Critical Plant Studies, my work centres the plant in the analysis and uses specific flowers as windows onto a variety of themes. These include nineteenth-century religion, domestic floriculture, commodity culture, and settler colonialism. Methodologically, I am piecing together archival fragments as a bricolage, weaving stories of flowers alongside theoretical engagement with what it means to tell a relational history through plants. I hope to piece together a picture of how plants were philosophised and engaged with in nineteenth-century Britain, from which we might extract value in the interpretation of our own tangled co-constitution with vegetal life in the context of contemporary environmental crisis.

A side-line of research I also work on focuses on cultural appropriation and the history of the steelpan in Trinidad and postcolonial Britain, alongside the culture of mas in Notting Hill Carnival and the re-appropriation of narratives of Windrush by members of the UK’s mas community.


Peer-reviewed publications

  • Lawrence, A.M. (2021) ‘Listening to plants: Conversations between critical plant studies and vegetal geography’, Progress in Human Geography, 10.1177/03091325211062167
  • Lawrence, A. M. (2020) ‘Morals and mignonette; or, the use of flowers in the moral regulation of the working classes in high Victorian London’, Journal of Historical Geography, 70, pp. 24-35,

Other publications

Conference presentations and talks

  • ‘Critical Plant Studies: An Introduction’, ‘Economy in the Planthropocene: on Plants, Solidarity, and Worldmaking’ symposium, QMUL, September 2022
  • ‘Listening to Plants: conversations between critical plant studies and vegetal geography’, Plant Studies Collaboratory, York University Toronto, online, March 2022
  • ‘Scilly Narcissi: the multiple lives of cut-flower commodities in nineteenth-century Britain’, ‘Following Living Things’ conference, University of Warwick, online, February 2022
  • ‘Into the Archives: the civilising mission of flowers in Aotearoa New Zealand’, Chorley Society, Sidney Sussex College Cambridge, November 2021
  • ‘Botanical Biopolitics: the sociopolitical lives of flowers in Victorian Britain’, RGS-IBG annual conference, online, September 2021
  • ‘Situating vegetal lives in political ecology’, Political Ecology research group, University of Cambridge, online, June 2021
  • ‘Matthew Beach in conversation with Anna Lawrence’, The Herbarium’s Shadow exhibition, San Mei Gallery, London (online), April 2021,
  • ‘Vegetal Collaborations’, More-Than-Human Collaborations in Geographical Research workshop, online, February 2021
  • ‘Treat your child as you treat your plant: Phytomorphism in the Victorian Slum’, ‘Er Indoors’: Domesticity and Nature in Home and Garden, University of Warwick, November 2019
  • ‘The Meaning of (Vegetal) Life’, AAG Annual Meeting, Washington D.C., April 2019
  • ‘Out of Pain this Culture was Born’ (Rudder, 1987): Appropriation vs Appreciation in the Steelband Movement’, 7th International Biennial Steelpan Conference, Notting Hill, London, October 2018
  • ‘Morals and Mignonette, or the Use of Flowers in the Moral Regulation of Women, Children, and the Working Classes in Late-Victorian London’, RGS HGRG ‘Practising Historical Geography’ Conference, Manchester, November 2017


  • Supervisor, Part IA Cultural Geography, Historical Geography, Geopolitics, Economic Geographies (2018-present)
  • Supervisor, Part IB Citizenship, Cities, and Civil Society (2018-2021)
  • Supervisor, Part II Political Appetites, Postcolonial Geographies (2019-2022)
  • Lecturer: Part II Geographies of Postcolonialism and Decoloniality (settler colonial geographies of Aotearoa New Zealand, 2021), Political Appetites (biopolitics of plant life, 2022)

External activities

  • Editorial Board member, International Journal of Carnival Arts (2020-present)
  • Graduate convener, Vital Geographies research group (2019-2022)
  • Graduate Wellbeing department rep (2019-2022)
  • Musical Director, Cambridge University Steelpan Society (2017-2022)
  • Co-convener, Vegetal Epistemologies Reading Group (2019-2020)
  • Member, American Association of Geographers (2019)
  • Blog Coordinator for Women’s Environmental Network (2016-18)