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Department of Geography

 

Cambridge Cultural and Historical Geography

Cambridge Cultural and Historical Geography

Geography at Cambridge has longstanding interests in cultural and historical geography. Our research spans fields such as historical demography, including epidemiology, fertility, and urbanisation. Research on the body includes aspects of health and everyday life, with extensive work on the histories of nutrition, alcohol consumption, and bio-political dimensions to social regulation. Other themes include colonial and post-colonial geographies with links to geographies of gender, race, and sexuality. We are also interested in more-than-human geographies including histories of botany, entomology, and animal studies, with wider links to science and technology studies and urban history.

Themes

Demography and epidemiology

Demography and epidemiology

Our demographic research is based in the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure (CAMPOP), led by Alice Reid, and includes teams of researchers associated with the Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award Migration, Mortality and Medicalisation: investigating the long-run epidemiological consequences of urbanisation 1600-1945 (PI Richard Smith) and ESRC large grant award An Atlas of Victorian Fertility Decline (PI Alice Reid). Specific foci for this research span topics such as the social and spatial geographies of the late 19th and early 20th century fertility decline; the technological enhancement of historical demography through the use of GIS and spatial analysis; and the epidemiological consequences of urbanisation.

Food, famine, and regulation

Food, famine, and regulation

A major strand of work on famine, philanthropy, and the politics of food is being led by David Nally who is preparing a major monograph on this theme. Other key areas include the history of alcohol consumption, temperance, and social regulation marked by David Beckingham's monograph The licensed city: regulating drink in Liverpool, 1830-1920 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2017) and histories of prostitution and sexuality led by Philip Howell and Olga Petri.

Nature and landscape

Nature and landscape

Our work on nature, landscape, and urbanization is supported by the ERC Advanced Grant Rethinking Urban Nature (PI Matthew Gandy). This work examines six main areas: redefining urban ecology; post-humanism and new conceptions of agency; epidemiology, insect vectors and the political ecology of water; wastelands and urban bio-diversity; aesthetics, landscape and "non-design"; and marginal spaces and cultural practice.

Animal geographies

Animal geographies

The history of animals under modernity has been a strong strand of work in recent years marked by Phil Howell's work on dogs and his monograph At home and astray: the domestic dog in Victorian Britain (University of Virginia Press, 2015). Further contributions include Matthew Gandy's book Moth (Reaktion, 2016) and ERC supported work on dogs, snakes, and other fauna in Chennai.

Cities and urbanisation

Cities and urbanisation

A cross-cutting theme between CCHG and other research groups is the study of cities and urbanization with particular interest in infrastructure, landscape, and the human sensorium. Key books include Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift, Seeing like a city (Polity, 2017) and Matthew Gandy, The fabric of space: water, modernity, and the urban imagination (The MIT Press, 2014). There are connections here with wider debates on "lively infrastuctures", urban atmospheres, and the neo-vitalist turn marked by recent symposia hosted by the British Academy, the Urban Salon, and the Department of Geography.

Histories of finance and state formation

Histories of finance and state formation

Further links across the department's research groups include histories of urban finance and governance including the formation of the local state with particular emphasis on the origin and role of chambers of commerce in patterns of economic development. A key project under this theme, with extensive archival work, is the ESRC large grant The Drivers of Entrepreneurship and Small Business (PI R.J. Bennett).

Group members

Graduate students

The following graduate students are also associated with the group:

Activities

CAMPOP

The Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure

The Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure is an interdisciplinary research group based in the Department of Geography and the Faculty of History.


Header image by Merjin Royaards. "A sound, a kind of whistling, rises above the background noise. Clear and articulate, it pierces through the heavy blanket of city sounds" (2012).