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Mr Ben Platt

Mr Ben Platt

PhD student

Ben is a cultural and historical geographer from Mansfield, UK, with an interest in landscapes and power. His work straddles multiple disciplines including architecture, design, film studies, art history and cultural theory. He looks to place creative forms of expression into conversation with academic output.

Biography

Career

  • October 2019-present: PhD Student in Geography, University of Cambridge.
  • October 2018-September 2019: MPhil Geographical Research, University of Cambridge.
  • July 2018: Research Assistant, University of Cambridge Prof Matthew Gandy.
  • October 2015-June 2018: BA Cambridge, University of Cambridge.

Qualifications

  • PhD Candidate, Robinson College, University of Cambridge, October 2019-present
  • MPhil Geographical Research, Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge, October 2018-September 2019
  • BA Geography (First Class with Distinction), Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge, October 2015-June 2018.

Awards and scholarships

  • AHRC Studentship (2019-2022)
  • Vice-Chancellors Award (and nomination as a Scholar of the Cambridge Trust) (2019-2022)
  • Newton College Masters Award (2018-2019)
  • Winifred Georgina Holgate-Pollard Prize (for finishing top of the 2015-2018 Geographical Tripos) (2018)
  • George Aldridge Prize (for best performance in Human Geography at Part II) (2018)
  • William Vaughn Lewis Prize (for a first class dissertation) (2018)
  • 1912 Honorary Scholarship, Fitzwilliam College (election as senior scholar for distinguished performance in examinations) (2018)
  • Foundation Scholarship, Fitzwilliam College (for achieving a first class result in every year of study) (2018)
  • John and Jenny Duncan Dissertation Prize, Fitzwilliam College (2018)
  • Cockle Prize, Fitzwilliam College (distinguished performance in examinations) (2018)
  • Irene Walker Studentship, Fitzwilliam College (distinguished examination performance) (2016; re-elected 2017)
  • Pat Higginbotham Prize, Fitzwilliam College (distinguished examination performance) (2016)

Research

Ben's MPhil research looked to untangle the relationship between speculative fiction and the cinematic landscapes of the so called 'Anthropocene'. Extending this interest towards the urban landscape of London, his PhD study looks to interrogate the intersection of (post-)apocalyptic imaginations with an ecological design approach which at once engenders the omnipresence of crisis and its perpetual elimination. In doing so, he charts the historical trajectory of ecological, aesthetic and philosophical expressions through the development of London's urban landscape, towards a cartography which renders visible a new operation of environmental power.

Do projects or spaces that extend agency beyond the human function to delimit forms of agency that are not seen as 'acceptable'? Do they constrain alternative and potentially radical futurities? Is this a new form of environmental power? If so, how does it operate? In working through these questions, he looks towards the spontaneous spaces of urban nature – wastelands in the margins of capitalist urbanization – as spaces of aesthetic disruption and political possibility.

Publications

Selected presentations and invited talks:

  • 'Biopunk(ed) Urban Ecologies : Miéville's (2000) Perdido Street Station as a counterposition to contemporary ecological design'. RGS-IBG AC2020 Session on 'Earth and its Others: the Geographies of Science Fiction'. London, UK (September 2020)
  • 'Sedimentary Wetlands as Ontopolitical Urban Landscapes : An 'Anticipatory Political Ecology' of the Erith Saltings, inner Thames Estuary'. At AAG Session on Urban Nature. Denver, US. (April 2020)
  • 'The future is Lagos! Provinsialising the 'Anthropocalypse''. RGS-IBG AC2019 Session on Apocalyptic Imaginaries. London, UK (September 2019)

Teaching

  • Part II Dissertation Supervisions
  • Part 1A Urban Geography
  • Part II Urban Geography Revision Supervisions

External activities

  • Member of the Vital Geographies and Infrastructural Geographies research groups
  • Member of the London Science Fiction Research Community
  • Member of the British Film Institute and Tate
  • Participant in the 'Deleuze's Foucault' and 'Media ecologies' reading groups; convenor of the 'Three Ecologies' reading group.