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Anna M. Lawrence, BA MPhil

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.



  • 2018-present 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'


  • 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 botanical science, domestic floriculture, commodity culture, philanthropy, 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. (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

  • '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 1A Cultural Geography, Historical Geography, Geopolitics
  • Supervisor, Part 1B Citizenship, Cities, and Civil Society
  • Supervisor, Part 2 Political Appetites

External activities

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