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Distinguished International Visitors seminars: archive

Distinguished International Visitors seminars: archive

Return to the list of forthcoming seminars.

# Wednesday 11th March 2020, 1.00pm - Dr Walter Immerzeel, Faculty of Geosciences, Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands
Cancelled due to strike action
CANCELLED: Recent advances in understanding climate, glacier and river dynamics in high mountain Asia
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Abstract not available

# Wednesday 26th February 2020, 1.00pm - Professor Gail Davies, Geography, University of Exeter
Cancelled due to strike action
CANCELLED: From networks to fretworks: mapping the interface of patient involvement and animal research
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

In this presentation I introduce a mapping device we have been using in our work to think about how knowledge, narrative, and work are framed at emerging institutional interfaces, in this case between patient involvement and animal research. This specific interface involves both networking and what we have called fretworking. The rise of formal practices of Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) can be seen as an interdisciplinary networking activity that develops new connections between patient groups and laboratory animal research, with the promise to address gaps in research systems, from translational relevance to public understanding. However, these interfaces also inherit the absences and ambiguities of earlier conversations around animal research, such that encounters are structured as much by affective negotiation with these gaps – what we call fretwork – as they are by the construction of new research relations. Patients struggle with complex ethical roles and responsibilities; practitioners are apprehensive about how to manage potential public and lay members concerns; researchers are unsure about how to translate lay-knowledge into research practices. We have used a mix of interviews, participant observation, and workshops to map the fretted structure of patient involvement with animal research and make these visible for all participants with the aim of enhancing reflexivity and the capacity for more meaningful and equitable encounters. In conclusion, I reflect on how geographers more broadly might operationalise methodologies that engage the patterns between knowledge control regimes (Hilgartner, 2017) and the politics of exclusion within entanglements (Giraud, 2019).

# Thursday 13th February 2020, 4.15pm - Dr Maria Fannin, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol
"Constructing the ‘foetal environment:’ making intergenerational publics in a regional biobank"
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Pregnancy is regarded by health researchers as a key period in which to begin studies focusing on the child, configuring the pregnant person’s body as the child’s first ‘environment.’ This presentation explores the history of efforts to enroll pregnant women in research studies focused on child health, exploring the role such studies play in the broader reproductive biopolitics aimed at governing pregnant bodies. Drawing on interviews with mothers, health professionals and scientists, and archival materials from a longitudinal study of child health in the south west of the UK, the presentation considers how the concept of the ‘foetal environment’ was materialised through the collection of tissues such as cord blood and placenta. In this way, the paper calls for renewed attention to the reproductive histories of population geography.

# Thursday 30th January 2020, 4.15pm - Professor Yadvinder Malhi, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford
El Niño, tropical forests and the potential instability of the global carbon cycle
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

At a time of heightened concern at the pace of human-caused climate change and its impacts on humanity and the biosphere, one of the key concerns is evaluating how close the Earth System is to “tipping points”, where biophysical feedbacks start accelerating climate change feedbacks. One of the most iconic of these tipping points is the potential dieback of tropical forests, which change regional climate and release substantial carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. While possible tropical forest dieback has been the focus on many modelling studies, there have been a dearth of field-based empirical studies looking at the effects of climate extreme events on the tropical forest carbon cycle at global scale. Here we examine this issue by exploring the impacts of the strong 2015/6 El Nino event on a pan-tropical set of forest carbon cycle monitoring plants within the Global Ecosystems Monitoring (GEM) network. The impacts of the El Nino were strongest in eastern Amazonia, where the dominant effect in intact forests was was a large release of carbon dioxide from soils. However, substantial areas of forest in eastern Amazonia also caught fire, leading to large scale tree mortality and longer term forest degradation and carbon emission. Such fires have been increasing in extent as Amazonian climate warms dries, and the interaction between forest fragmentation, climate change and fire poses the greatest threat to causing substantial loss of Amazonian forest. Conversely, fire management interventions may help to minimise the risk of a tropical forest tipping point under climate change.

# Wednesday 20th November 2019, 1.00pm - Professor Vanesa Castán Broto, Urban Institute, The University of Sheffield
The uses of messiness: understanding climate governance in practice
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Coordination, organisation, alignment, integration, multi-level governance, subsidiarity, coalition-making, harmonisation, orchestration: these are all different words which have become a standard part of the climate change governance vocabulary. They all have one thing in common: they represent attempts to introduce ‘order’ in governance institutions to facilitate the delivery of climate change policy. While the actual vocabularies to describe governance arrangements across spaces and scales have changed in the history of climate change policy, they have maintained a core idea: institutional ordering makes the climate change landscape governable.
What if governing would require, instead, a deliberate engagement with messiness? In this lecture I will offer an initial exploration of the uses and risks of messiness as a form of climate change governance. My proposal emerges against the backdrop of multiple, overlapping proposals to deliver order as a priority response to the urgent challenge of climate change. Ordering is part of the collective quest to make sense of an indeterminate World. An engagement with on-the-ground contexts of action suggests that ordering efforts tend to be inadequate, incomplete, and often deviate attention from immediate priorities at hand. From the active designation of the pure and impure as a form of social regulation (cf. Douglas, 1956) to the fortress of consciousness that helps us to typify normality (cf. Foucault, 1961) ordering efforts are linked to multiple forms of conscious and unconscious oppression.
Climate change imposes a different perspective. The scale of the challenge asks for acting without certainty, and for embracing hope and possibility as a means to reach more sustainable futures. My hypothesis is accepting messiness is a workable alternative for delivering realistic, on-the-ground climate change action with the potential to transform this world. Governance as messiness resonates with feminist alternatives to despair in the Anthropocene. In an urban context- the setting that my scholarship explores- embracing messiness requires: 1) a revisable approach to climate action strategies, 2) an openness to multiple forms of climate knowledge and the role of knowledge holders, and 3) a recognition of the body as a mediator of climate change action.

# Tuesday 12th November 2019, 5.00pm - Professor Melissa Leach, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
Geographies of Knowledge Annual Lecture: Configuring and Contesting Planetary Health: Knowledge Politics in Ecologies of Disease
Venue: Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Contemporary imaginaries of ‘planetary health’ and ‘one health’ call upon new combinations of knowledge to address pressing global-scale predicaments. These configurations are illustrative of broader planetary imaginaries in the Anthropocene, yet are contested by knowledges from different times, places and scales. Focusing on ideas and actions around infectious diseases, their ecologies and socialities, and drawing on examples from the ethnography of zoonoses – diseases passed from animals to people – in West Africa, I address what anthropocenic reconfigurations are obscuring and marginalising – including creative ways that people interrelate with non-human natures in living and dealing with disease. I argue for an opening-up of planetary (health) imaginaries to greater appreciation of local socio-natures in all their diversity, and for a politicisation of our engagements with ecologies and non-human natures that better appreciates plurality and uncertainty.

# Wednesday 6th November 2019, 1.00pm - Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Department of Geography & Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge University
The Weddell Sea, Antarctica: modern science and the search for Shackleton’s Endurance
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

The primary aim of the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019 was to investigate the fluctuating extent and glacial history of the Larsen C Ice Shelf, together with the sea ice, oceanography and marine biology close to it, as part of an interdisciplinary science programme led by the Scott Polar Research Institute. The Weddell Sea and Larsen Ice Shelf were selected for investigation because of the known instability of ice shelves in this area, including the recent calving of the huge iceberg A68, and the significance of the area for sea-ice and dense bottom-water formation. The expedition platform was the South African icebreaker Agulhas II, which was equipped with a number of scientific instruments including two state-of-the-art autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). The initial findings of the expedition, including geophysical observations of past ice-shelf grounding lines imaged in unprecedented detail, will be presented.
A second expedition aim was to use the AUVs to search for the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance which was crushed by sea ice and sank in the Weddell Sea during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914 – 1917). A century later the sea-ice conditions in the western Weddell Sea remain just as challenging, but in early 2019 the Agulhas II managed to penetrate this remote region to search for the wreck, whose position was known from historical theodolite and sextant measurements held in the archives of the Scott Polar Research Institute. The search for Endurance will also be outlined.

# Thursday 24th October 2019, 4.15pm - Professor Ayona Datta, Department of Geography, King's College, London
#AanaJaana [#ComingGoing]: Curating gendered digital lives in Delhi's urban peripheries
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

This paper presents a gendered perspective of Delhi’s urban future produced and curated by young women living in slum resettlement colonies in the city’s edge. Using the metaphor of #aanajaana 1 as a paradigm for postcolonial urbanism, this paper argues that their everyday mobility across the home and the city reflect the paradox of belonging and exclusion in a digital urban age. The paper captures the ambiguities and paradoxes of their lives – on the one hand living as second generation rural migrants forcefully evicted from the city slums in the 2000s and resettled in the peripheries. On the other hand, as millennials with increased access to mobile and communication technologies, these women are also riding the digital urban age with promises of their inclusion in the future city. Using a digital and participatory methodology of WhatsApp diary entries of multimedia content (audio recordings, photographs, videos and text messages by women), conversations between the women and researchers as well as observations of the dynamics within the WhatsApp group over a period of 6 months, I suggest that #AanaJaana highlights the inherent slow violence of living between physical and digital exclusions from the city. By digitally and visually curating women’s everyday stories, #aanajaana also turned into a hip-hop song written and performed by these women that drew attention to the attritional and invisible violence of their lives.

# Wednesday 8th May 2019, 5.00pm - Professor James Scott, Yale University
Public Lecture: In Praise of Floods: homo sapiens and rivers
Venue: Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Virtually all civilizations are dependent on the ever-renewed fertility of floodplain soils. Human engineering has radically simplified river hydrology, the way taxidermy or amputations might destroy a living being, so that rivers can be navigation canals, water storage, sewage conduits, hydroelectric sites, irrigation reservoirs, and flood free. Disturbance ecology teaches us, on the contrary, how the “edge environments” and “eco-tones” created by naturally occurring floods and fires promote bio-diversity. The simplification of river hydrology has set the stage for “iatrogenic” (illness caused by previous “treatment”) river ailments including massive floods.

# Thursday 31st January 2019, 4.15pm - Professor Declan Conway, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, The London School of Economics and Political Science
Climate change and water security in Africa
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

High levels of rainfall variability are magnified in the response of river discharges and lake levels creating major challenges to ongoing activities to achieve water security in sub-Saharan Africa. In many cases climate change is likely to exacerbate these challenges particularly in the context of rapid socio-economic development that is driving greater use of scarce water resources. I will briefly characterise key aspects of water resources distribution and variability across sub-Saharan Africa and introduce two examples of climate-induced pressures on water resources management. First, I examine the close linkages between spatial patterns of rainfall variability and the river basin areas that provide runoff used to generate hydropower which underpins a major proportion of electricity supply in eastern and southern Africa. Second, I trace the hydrological impact pathways associated with drought during the 2015/16 El Niño that contributed to disruption of public water supply in Gaborone and widespread electricity outages in Lusaka. The effects of service disruption on businesses in both capitals are described and show critical linkages between climate events (that are not unprecedented in scale) and economic activities in urban areas. I will conclude by using insights from the two management examples to infer what continued climate change might mean for achieving water security.

# Wednesday 23rd January 2019, 5.00pm - Professor Rebecca Lave, Indiana University
Public Lecture: Can we save nature by selling it?
Venue: Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Selling nature in order to save it is the core goal animating market-based approaches to environmental conservation. Such approaches have become a central component of international environmental policy and practice, with biodiversity offsetting and related policies enacted on every continent except Antarctica. What are the consequences of this shift? Can putting a price tag on nature succeed where previous regulatory approaches to environmental conservation have failed? In this talk, Professor Lave will trace the development of market-based forms of environmental management, examining their track record and future potential through integrated physical and social science analysis of markets for stream and habitat credits. Professor Lave will argue that the contrast between the dynamism and complexity of ecosystems and the stability and simplicity required for functional markets radically limits the conservation potential of market-based approaches.

# Thursday 8th November 2018, 4.15pm - Dr Ivan Haigh, Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton
Is sea level rise accelerating and what are the implications for coastal flooding?
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Sea-level rise is one of the most certain and costliest impacts of climate change. The Paris Agreement committed signatories to ‘Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change’. However, while reducing human emissions of greenhouse gases will stabilise temperature and other climate factors, sea-level rise will continue for many centuries. This is due to the long timescale of cryospheric adjustment to elevated air temperatures (especially the large ice sheets), and the long timescale of the deep ocean temperature warming to surface warming. In this presentation I will describe a novel approach we have developed to project sea-level rise out to 2300 to accurately assess our ‘commitment to sea-level rise’. I will then go on to describe how sea level rise will impact coastal flooding around the UK.

Ivan Haigh is an associated professor in Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, based at the prestigious National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. He is passionate about all things relating to sea level. Him and his team investigate variations in sea level from time-scales of seconds (waves), to days (tides and storm surges), through to long-term century scale rises in mean sea level, and its impact on the coast.

# Thursday 8th March 2018, 4.15pm - Dr Walter Immerzeel, Faculty of Geosciences, Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands
CANCELLED DUE TO STRIKE ACTION Recent advances in understanding climate, glacier and river dynamics in high mountain Asia
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

The water cycle in the Himalaya is poorly understood because of its extreme topography that results in complex interactions between climate, water stored in snow and glaciers and the hydrological processes. Hydrological extremes in the greater Himalayas regularly cause great damage, while high mountain Asia also supplies water to over 25% of the global population. So, the stakes are high and an accurate understanding of the Himalayan water cycle is imperative. The hydrology of the greater Himalayas is only marginally resolved due to the intricacy of monsoon dynamics, the poorly quantified dependence on the cryosphere and the physical constraints of doing research in high-altitude and generally inaccessible terrain. However, in recent years significant scientific advances have been made in field monitoring, modelling and remote sensing and the latest progress and outstanding challenges will be presented for three related fields. First focus will be on recent learnings about high altitude climate dynamics and the interaction between the atmosphere and the extreme mountain topography. Secondly, recent advances in how climate controls key glacio-hydrological processes in high-altitude catchments will be discussed with a particular focus on debris covered glaciers. Thirdly, new developments in glacio-hydrological modelling and approaches to climate change impact assessments will be reviewed. Finally, the outstanding scientific challenges will be synthesized that need to be addressed to fully close the high mountain water cycle and to be able to reduce the uncertainty in future projections of water availability and the occurrence of extreme events in high mountain Asia.

# Thursday 1st March 2018, 4.15pm - Professor Mike Hulme, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
What sort of challenge is climate change? Fifty years of editorialising in ‘Nature’ and ‘Science’
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Through their editorialising, leading international science journals such as Nature and Science shape and interpret the changing roles of science in society and exert considerable influence on scientific priorities and practices. I examine this ‘boundary work’ by examining 50 years of editorialising in these two journals through a longitudinal frame analysis of nearly 500 editorials. Although there are broad similarities between Nature and Science in the waxing and waning of editorialising attention given to climate change, there are also significant differences in how the challenges of climate change are framed. These differences can be attributed to these journals’ different institutional histories, place attachments and editorial styles. How Nature and Science editorialise climate change depends on where they are situated, both literally and metaphorically.

# Thursday 8th February 2018, 4.15pm - Professor Cheryl McEwan, Geography Department, Durham University
Protean geographies: Plants, politics and postcolonialism in South Africa
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

The significance of plants to the processes that form and reform human societies and politics has rarely been recognised by historians, historians of science or postcolonial theorists (Schiebinger 2004). Plants rarely feature in narratives of nation-building, transformation and everyday life. Drawing inspiration from research over several years in the Cape Floral Region of South Africa, I focus on the Protea flower, and the wider fynbos biome, to suggest that plants are not only important natural and cultural artefacts, but are embroiled in high-stake politics, social transformation and everyday lives. I explore how the Protea, as a symbol of change and promise, might also help navigate the apparent incommensurability of the politics of decolonisation and postcolonial theory.

# Thursday 30th November 2017, 4.15pm - Professor Richard Sennett, Department of Sociology, London School of Economics
The Open City: its ethics and its design
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

A city should foster experiment in its form and functions, thereby expanding the experience of its citizens. This is the open city, in principle. Cities today are not open: they inhibit experiment in form, are becoming more rigid in function, and as a result are shrinking the experience of urbanites. What can be done?

# Thursday 23rd November 2017, 4.15pm - Dr Richard Streeter, School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews
Measuring landscape resilience: tephra, soil and spatial patterns
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

A key challenge this paper addresses is understanding how and when landscapes are likely to become degraded. The concept of ecological ‘resilience’ and the related idea that there are generic ‘early warning signals’ prior to changes in state have created the possibility that we might be able to quantify the vulnerability of systems to change. This paper highlights the possibilities for both using both tephra layers (layers of volcanic ash) and the analysis of spatial patterns of erosion as approaches to understanding the resilience of landscapes, past and present. When tephra falls onto vegetated surface its thickness reflects aspects of the vegetation structure at the time. These variations in tephra thickness preserve information that can be used to assess the resilience of the land surface at the time of the eruption. This approach could be used to assess land surface resilience in the past. Using UAV imagery we can quickly and easily capture high-resolution images from currently eroding landscapes. These images are used to generate metrics such as patch-size distributions, which can be used to assess present landscape resilience. This paper will review these approaches and report on findings from fieldwork in the sub-arctic landscapes of Iceland.

# Thursday 16th November 2017, 4.15pm - Professor Joe Smith, Department of Geography, The Open University and Dr. Renata Tyszczuk, University of Sheffield, School of Architecture
Culture and Climate Change: experiments in collaboration and engagement
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Climate change is urgent and important, but also, for many, boring, difficult and confusing. What kinds of stories, artworks and other interventions are being created in response to ‘the greatest challenge facing humanity’ — a challenge that is also apparently forgettable? Joe Smith (Professor of Environment and Society, the Open University) and Renata Tyszczuk (Senior Lecturer in Architecture, University of Sheffield) reflect on their experimental and interdisciplinary projects at the intersection of research, policy and cultural work on climate change. Their recent joint projects include the Interdependence Day project (2005-2011, with the new economics foundation) and the current multi-partner AHRC Stories of Change project on past, present and future energy transitions. They will also reference the current Culture and Climate Change: Scenarios project, including its innovative networked artists residencies. The paper unpacks some of the theoretical and methodological inspirations that nourish their work, including the Mass Observation movement. They will argue for the importance of cultural work on climate change, but caution against any expectation that it provides any communications silver bullets.

# Thursday 2nd November 2017, 4.15pm - Dr Anya Schmidt, Department of Geography and Department of Chemistry, Cambridge University
Environmental and climatic effects of volcanic aerosol: past, present and future
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Volcanic eruptions have a significant potential to affect the climate system, the environment and society. I will summarise my work on volcanic sulfur emissions from volcanic eruptions of different styles, magnitudes, and durations. I will first discuss air quality and climate impacts of Icelandic volcanism including the most recent Icelandic eruption at Holuhraun (Bárðarbunga volcano), which in September 2014 emitted up to nine times as much sulphur dioxide per day as all European industry combined. Holuhraun was the first so-called flood lava eruption in Iceland since the much bigger 1783-1784 CE Laki eruption. Laki had substantial effects on northern hemisphere climate and the environment across Europe. Using a global aerosol microphysics model to simulate the effects of a future Laki-type eruption, I show that such an eruption could have the potential to degrade air quality and affect human health in Europe. Lastly, I will present results from CESM model simulations of volcanic eruptions and their radiative effects since 1990.

# Thursday 19th October 2017, 3.30pm - Professor Christine Lane and Professor Ulf Büntgen, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
Under the Physical Geography Parasol: Climate and History
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Professor Christine Lane: Timing is everything. Using tephra to explore past climate and environmental change.

Understanding the spatial and temporal variability of climate forcing as well as human and palaeoenvironmental responses to change, relies upon comparison of data from widespread terrestrial, glacial and marine archives. Building accurate, precise and independent chronologies for palaeoclimate, palaeoenvironmental and archaeological records is essential; however this remains a major challenge in many environments and often prevents the valid comparison of detailed palaeo-proxy records. In the Cambridge Tephra Lab we are using far-travelled volcanic ash tie-lines to tackle these issues and to address interdisciplinary research questions. This talk will focus on on-going investigations into the presence of visible and non-visible (crypto-) tephra layers within lacustrine palaeoenvironmental records of the last ~150 ka BP from across East Africa. With this approach we are revealing the potential to (i) precisely correlate, and therefore robustly compare, palaeoclimate archives from across and beyond tropical Africa within a regional tephrostratigraphic framework; (ii) provide chronologies for individual lake sediment palaeoclimate records, in particular beyond the limits of radiocarbon dating; (iii) increase our knowledge of the history of Late Quaternary explosive volcanism in East Africa; and (iv) explore the environmental impacts of major volcanic eruptions, which are believed to have had global climate effects.

Professor Ulf Büntgen: A tree-ring perspective on climate and history.

In this talk, I will focus on novel tree ring-based, proxy evidence of the European Alps and the Russian Altai-Sayan Mountains in Inner Eurasia. While stressing data-inherent and methodological-induced limitations of the existing high-resolution, summer temperature reconstructions, I will emphasize their spatiotemporal coherency and ability to link past climate variability with human history. Large-scale peopolitical and socio-cultural transformations during the Late Antique Little Ice Age between 536 and ~660 CE (LALIA), the sudden withdrawal of the Mongols from the Hungarian Plain in 1242 CE, and the unprecedented rate and magnitude of dispersal and virulence of the Black Death from 1347 CE onwards, will be used as key examples of how climatic and environmental changes have, directly and/or indirectly, affected historical societies. Finally, I will prioritize future, interdisciplinary research avenues towards a better understanding of natural climate variations and its forcing agents, as well as the associated ecosystem responses and societal consequences throughout much of the late Holocene.

# Thursday 9th March 2017, 4.15pm - Jeremy Purseglove
Taming The Flood
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Jeremy Purseglove, landscape architect, ecologist and drainage engineer, considers the history of UK flood management and the evolution of the modern farmed landscape. How do we enhance, rather than destroy, our wetlands, making space for water so that we don’t continue to get ‘flooded out’?

# Wednesday 1st March 2017, 4.15pm - Dr Ben Anderson, Department of Geography, Durham University
Governing Events: Emergencies and the Fragile Promise of the State
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

What do events and conditions become when they are governed as emergencies? And how does the (neo)liberal ‘emergency state’ relate to and govern through events? Drawing on scenes from a genealogy of how emergencies have been governed in the UK since 1945, the paper will explore how emergencies, whether actual or anticipated, have served as affective and material occasions in which the hope and promise of the state is placed in question. Associated with the enactment of forms of mediatised acclamation and glorification as contemporary forms of sovereignty intensify in response to events, emergencies are also, at the same time, occasions in which the failed, delayed, or incompetent state materialises and the promise of the continuation or optimisation of life becomes fragile, fades or ends. The paper explores what this means for how we think about the state and its relation with events in the midst of multiple crises by honing in on a series of affective scenes in which a nervous ‘emergency state’ surfaces animated by doubt, worry, and concern; an exchange of letters between government departments as changes to emergency legislation are deliberated, a Parliamentary debate about emergency powers, a control room that has detected an anomaly, an exercise that appears to be going wrong.

# Wednesday 15th February 2017, 5.00pm - Didier Fassin, James Wolfensohn Professor of Social Science
Critique of Punitive Reason
Venue: Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Over the past three decades, almost all Western countries have developed increasingly severe policies against crime, leading to the skyrocketing of prison demographics, despite declining rates of the most serious ones. The punitive moment contemporary societies are going through invites us to a fundamental reflection on the reasons why we punish. The justification of punishment has indeed long been an important topic in moral philosophy and legal studies, with two major strands: utilitarianism and retributivism. On the basis of research conducted on police, justice and prison in France, the lecture will propose a critical examination of these theories.

# Tuesday 14th February 2017, 4.15pm - Didier Fassin, James Wolfensohn Professor of Social Science
Distinguished Visitor lecture
The Public Presence of the Social Sciences
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Research is generally deemed to end with the publication of its results. What happens afterwards is implicitly viewed as the usual after-sales service of science. Yet the encounter with various audiences, the debates it raises and the new perspectives it opens can be regarded as an object of inquiry in its own right. The lecture will be a tentative analysis of the public afterlife of works in the social science, with a special emphasis on ethnography. It will not promote public social science but will examine what it is, the operations it entails, the questions it poses, the challenges and limitations it faces. It will be grounded in particular in the experience of the reception of and engagement related to recent works on urban policing and on the carceral condition.

# Thursday 9th February 2017, 4.15pm - Professor Steve Hinchliffe, Geography and College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter
Pathological Lives: on the cosmopolitics of losing self-assurance
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

We live in resurgent microbial times. From the ‘volatile world of influenza viruses’ (WHO, 2015) to the circulation of antimicrobial genes across populations of bacteria, this is a bio-insecure world. It is a world where the smallest of organisms threatens the edifices of modern life (medicine, food production, infrastructures, mobility, freedoms, security and so on). In this paper I refer to two responses. First, there is the establishment of a common and singular good life, or One Health. Here, pathological lives are constructed as an outside threat to the norms of health and good life. Second, and in contrast, there is a cosmopolitics, wherein norms are questioned rather than re-established. Here, emergent microbes and circulating resistant genes are not so much a threat to good life as a ‘passing fright that scares self-assurance’ (Stengers 2005). They can help to generate a situation with power to make us think. In this second, cosmopolitical approach, pathological lives are not so much the problem, but are part of the solution. They require us to pursue a different common world, a common sensing that is open to the bewildering variety of what it means to be both in touch with and touched by ‘reality’ (Stengers 2009: 38).

# Thursday 8th December 2016, 4.15pm - Professor Susan Page, Department of Geography, University of Leicester
“Swamped! The trials and tribulations of tropical peatland science”
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Peatlands are important terrestrial carbon stores and vital components of global carbon soil-atmosphere exchange processes. In this regard, tropical peatlands are important because they are some of the planet’s most carbon-dense ecosystems. Knowledge of the extent of tropical peatlands across the globe is still uncertain, nevertheless there is growing recognition of their significance for biodiversity support, carbon storage, climate mitigation and other ecosystem services and of the ecological and biogeochemical consequences of land use change. In Southeast Asia, where the largest area of tropical peatland is located, there is almost no intact peat swamp forest remaining.

Over the last two decades, rapid socio-economic development has been accompanied by the transformation of vast areas into plantations producing palm oil and pulpwood, while remnant fragments of forested peatland have been degraded by logging, drainage and fire. Simultaneous with these developments, scientific knowledge of the consequences of peatland development has strengthened, providing a narrative that links the deforestation and drainage of peatlands to: loss of carbon storage potential; high emissions of greenhouse gases; increased risk of fire, resulting in extreme air pollution episodes that adversely impact on human health and economic activity; increased risk of flooding; loss of habitat for vulnerable, rare and endemic species; and reduced human livelihood opportunities. My talk will review this scientific narrative using examples from my own research journey to explore the disjunct between those promoting the benefits of short-term socio-economic development against those advocating for longer-term maintenance of ecosystem resilience.

It concludes by outlining recent opportunities for improved peatland management practices that attempt to integrate scientific, land use practice and policy aspirations to mitigate negative ecological and economic consequences of peatland development.

# Thursday 24th November 2016, 4.15pm - Professor Stephen Daniels, Professor of Cultural Geography, University of Nottingham
'Map-work' John Britton and the Topographical Imagination in Nineteenth Century Britain'
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

John Britton was a prolific author, editor and publisher of illustrated works on the landscape and architecture in nineteenth century Britain, subjects he encompassed in a reformed vision of topography, concerned with modernity as well as antiquity, and designed to appeal to a widening reading public. Britton was also a founder member of the Royal Geographical Society and a number of institutions dedicated to the ‘diffusion of knowledge’. This paper addresses some of Britton’s graphic works, particularly on cities, notably a display map of London and a panorama of Bristol, in terms of wider movements for cultural reform.

# Thursday 20th October 2016, 4.15pm - Professor Louise Amoore, Department of Geography, Durham University
On Intuition: Machine Learning and Posthuman Ethics
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Whether in the da Vinci surgical robots, or in the geopolitics of automated weaponry, drones, and intelligence gathering, machine learning algorithms and operatives are trained for future action via the patterns of ingested past data. What kind of ethics is possible in the context of the intuitive learning of a posthuman composite? Can this form of cognition and action be meaningfully called to account?

# Tuesday 3rd May 2016, 4.15pm - Professor Matthew Sparke, University of Washington, Seattle
Enclaving global health? Investment in life and the uneven geographies of biological citizenship
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

This presentation examines the paradoxical problem of spatial enclaving in global health. It argues that contemporary global health initiatives have displaced older alignments of national territory with state-managed biopolitics. Even as advances in biomedicine become available in some of the poorest parts of the world – thus extending forms of biological citizenship that promise post-colonial, post-racial and post-national inclusion – new global health initiatives have created exclusionary effects and newly gradated forms of both sovereignty and citizenship. These enclaving outcomes invite careful geographical analysis and explanation, not least of all because of their similarity with other examples of enclaving – EPZs, gated communities, privatized shopping malls and the like – that geographers have connected with the inequalities and asymmetries of contemporary globalization. In the case of global health, a large number of factors are involved. These include the destructive legacy of debt and structural adjustment policies, the decimation of local public health infrastructures and systems as well as the reconstructive approach of new ‘global health initiatives’ themselves.

# Thursday 10th March 2016, 4.15pm - Professor Giorgos Kallis, SOAS
Limits without scarcity, or why Malthus was wrong
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

‘Limits’ are back in thinking about surviving the future, though geographers have for some time critiqued the analytical premises and political implications of the concept of limits. This talk instead reclaims the concept, distinguishing it from scarcity and Malthusianism, arguing that there is something new in its reincarnation in the ‘degrowth’ literature.

# Wednesday 24th February 2016, 5.00pm - Professor Tania Murray Li, Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto
Plantations, Violence, and the Monopoly Form
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Plantations are back.  Colonial-style large scale corporate monoculture of industrial crops on concession land is again expanding in the global south.  The land dimensions of this renewed expansion were thrust into public debate in 2008-9, when there was a spike in transnational land-acquisitions dubbed a global “land-grab.” Legitimating narratives for corporate grabs hinge on the need for efficient production to supply food and fuel for expanding populations, and the promise that plantations bring development to remote regions, reduce poverty and create jobs.  These narratives are powerful: time and again opposition to “land grabs” is dismissed on these grounds.  Present losses and harms are discounted in view of the brighter future that is to come.  To move the debate forward, much more attention needs to be paid to what happens after the grab: what form of “development” is actually produced?  What are the economic, social, political and ecological relations that form on and around agricultural land concessions not just in the short term, but as they evolve over time?  What is a plantation?

# Tuesday 23rd February 2016, 5.00pm - Professor Tania Murray Li, Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto
Commodifications, Capitalism, Counter-movements: Perspectives from Southeast Asia
Venue: Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

The contemporary trajectory of global development, sometimes glossed “neoliberal,” is said to be characterized by the expansion of markets, and the extension of the commodity form to more domains of life. Nature, ideas, debt, risk, genes, carbon, pollution: anything, it seems, can be commodified and circulated in order to generate profit. Pushed too far, the commodification of everything puts human life at risk.  According to Karl Polanyi, recognition of the risk produces push-back in the form of protective counter-movements. Of particular concern to Karl Polanyi was the commodification of land, which is the basis of human life, and the treatment of humans as mere units of labour. This was his warning: “Robbed of the protective covering of cultural institutions, human beings would perish from the effects of social exposure; they would die as the victims of acute social dislocation through vice, perversion, crime, and starvation. Nature would be reduced to its elements, neighbourhoods and landscapes defiled, rivers polluted, military safety jeopardized, the power to produce food and raw materials destroyed…”  This lecture re-examines movements for and against commodification of land and labour from the perspective of Southeast Asia, and re-centres capitalism as a key term of analysis. Southeast Asia is an important location from which to revisit these topics for several reasons. First, the region has a long history of transactions in commodities, including land and labour, enabling us to ask: if the present is different, how so?  Second, colonial powers played an ambivalent role in the commodification process, deeming sectors of the native population inappropriate market subjects, with effects that still resonate. Third, the agricultural frontier continues to expand, as land and labour are mobilized to produce commodities for global markets. Counter-intuitively, it is smallholders, not plantations that organize their production on competitive, capitalist lines. Finally, Southeast Asia is the site of prominent writing about counter-movements said to be grounded in indigenous traditions, subsistence ethics, moral economies, notions of shared poverty, Asian values, the Asian family, and the Asian village. Contemporary counter-movement imaginaries invoked in projects to involve forest-villagers in combating climate change run up against the dynamic, often capitalist, processes in which the same villagers are involved.

# Thursday 21st January 2016, 4.15pm - Professor Georgina Endfield, University of Nottingham
"Wondrous signs of wondrous times": cultural histories of extreme weather events in the UK
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

There is growing concern over the impacts of inter-annual climate variability and anomalous and ‘extreme’ weather events such as droughts, floods, storm events and unusually high or low temperatures. While social and economic systems have generally evolved to accommodate some deviations from “normal” weather conditions, this is rarely true of extremes. Attempts to better understand the nature of future events and specifically the socio-economic impacts of and responses to these traumatic events, must consider the characteristics and repercussions of similar events in recent centuries for which most data are available (Alexander et al., 2009). Drawing on work conducted as part of an ongoing AHRC project focusing on archival investigations of past weather extremes, I wish to explore through selected UK based case studies how different types of events, including floods, extreme heat and cold, extreme cold and storms, over recent centuries affected the lives of local people and became inscribed into the cultural fabric and social memory in the form of oral history, ideology, custom, behaviour, narrative, artefact, technological and physical adaptation, including adaptations to the working landscape and built environment. These different forms of remembering and recording represent central media through which information on past events was curated, recycled and transmitted across generations.

# Thursday 3rd December 2015, 4.15pm - Dr Kevin Horsburgh, National Oceanography Centre
Challenges for an improved understanding of sea level extremes and coastal flood mitigation
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Coastal flooding represent one of the major challenges of climate change for humanity, due to mean sea level rise over the coming centuries as well as the potential for changes in storm surge and wave climate. It is estimated that in 2005 in the largest 130 coastal cities there were 40 million people and $3000 billion of assets exposed to the 1 in 100 year flood event. These figures are predicted to rise to 150 million people and $35000 billion of assets by the year 2070. The most high impact examples of coastal flooding occur due to large storm events, often coinciding with extremely high tides. Any change in the statistics of flood frequency or severity will impact severely on economic and social systems. It is therefore crucial to understand the physical drivers of extreme storm surges, and to have confidence in datasets used for extreme sea level statistics.

This demands a consistent methodology to obtain a global climatology of storm surges combined with advanced statistical methods for estimating extreme sea levels. This presentation will outline a global project directed by the IOC-WMO Joint Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM) expert team on waves and coastal hazards. I will present analysis of tide gauge data from the UK, Netherlands, Germany and Atlantic seaboard of the USA to provide baseline statistics for Atlantic storm surges. These methods can be extended to other regions including those affected by tropical cyclones. Much previous research has focussed on the process of tide-surge interaction, and it is now widely accepted that the physical basis of tide-surge interaction is that a phase shift of the tidal signal represents the effect of the surge on the tide. This presentation will show conclusively and for the first time that in extra-tropical regions the storm surge (when measured correctly) is independent from the tide. This implies that any storm surge can occur with any tide, although the probability may be very small.

Finally I will present plans to use a global tide-surge numerical model to provide a coherent global picture of storm surge climate. This could provide the basis of globally consistent vulnerability assessments that help disaster and risk reduction (DRR) agencies, and will also help planners and policy makers devise ways to mitigate coastal flood risk in the face of rising sea levels.

# Wednesday 4th November 2015, 5.00pm - Professor AbdouMaliq Simone (Professor of Sociology and Urbanism, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity)
Public lecture: The fugitives - blackness as urban method
Venue: Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

As part of the Distinguished Visitors Scheme, Professor AbdouMaliq Simone (Professor of Sociology and Urbanism, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity) will be visiting the Department from Tuesday 3rd to Thursday 5th November 2015.

AbdouMaliq Simone is one of the leading urbanists of our time. He has shown repeatedly how misleading is the characterisation of ‘failed cities’ across Africa and South-East Asia by revealing the sustaining relations, networks, and structures enabling life in the most precarious of city landscapes. Working extensively in and at the edges of cities such as Douala, and Dakar, in Jeddah, Johannesburg, and Jakarta, Simone has crafted uniquely creative methodological engagements at the interface of planning and postcolonial studies, urban policy, global studies, and critical theory as well as a critical analytics for comprehending ‘rogue urbanism’ and the ‘cities yet to come’.

In this lecture, Simone will address the question “What is the ‘common sense’ of cities?”. With so much attention today focusing on smart urban government to cope with global uncertainty and turbulence, where should we place the very concrete efforts that constructed the city, with all the layers of physical and cultural memory that new regimes usually attempt to cover-up or suppress?  Invoking blackness as an analytical method, these questions are addressed through thinking about how long histories of urban practices deployed by Black residents of cities across the world might challenge and reinvent the sense of an urban commons.

# Tuesday 3rd November 2015, 5.00pm - Professor AbdouMaliq Simone (Professor of Sociology and Urbanism, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity)
Department Seminar: Urbanisation at the interface of the habitable and uninhabitable: on redescription and detachment
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

As part of the Distinguished Visitors Scheme, Professor AbdouMaliq Simone (Professor of Sociology and Urbanism, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity) will be visiting the Department from Tuesday 3rd to Thursday 5th November 2015.

AbdouMaliq Simone is one of the leading urbanists of our time. He has shown repeatedly how misleading is the characterisation of ‘failed cities’ across Africa and South-East Asia by revealing the sustaining relations, networks, and structures enabling life in the most precarious of city landscapes. Working extensively in and at the edges of cities such as Douala, and Dakar, in Jeddah, Johannesburg, and Jakarta, Simone has crafted uniquely creative methodological engagements at the interface of planning and postcolonial studies, urban policy, global studies, and critical theory as well as a critical analytics for comprehending ‘rogue urbanism’ and the ‘cities yet to come’.

# Thursday 22nd October 2015, 4.15pm - Professor Catherine Nash, Queen Mary University of London
Interspecies Iceland: more-than-human geographies, genealogies and family histories
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

This paper presents the conceptual framework and preliminary field research on a project on human-horse relatedness in Iceland. The project seeks to extend geographical work on human and non-human relations by exploring the landscapes, practices, knowledges, meanings and affective dimensions of the relationships between horses and people, through a focus on interspecies kinship. This includes addressing the relationships between family histories, horse pedigrees and histories of horse breeding, and how affective relatedness is made in practice in horse breeding, care and riding. The focus on interspecies kinship in Iceland reflects the significance of Icelandic horses to ideas of national origins and heritage, but also to family histories, rural livelihood and contemporary culture. In this work I consider family histories and genealogies of people and horses in Iceland as entangled records of human-animal co-existence and practiced relatedness. Through this distinctive focus on interspecies kinship and use of creative research methods, this project seeks to address the place of horses in national, regional, local and family histories and landscapes, and the affective, embodied and practiced nature of human-horse relationships.

# Thursday 19th March 2015, 4.15pm - Dr Andy Merrifield, Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge
Planetary Urbanization and the Right to the City
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

In 1989, Henri Lefebvre voiced the hypothesis that the right to the city was nothing more than a “new revolutionary concept of citizenship.” He implied revolutionary citizenship is not a right: it has to be taken, recreated anew, struggled for—not rubber-stamped. Today’s revolutionary citizens are citizens without rights, disenfranchised urban citizens the world over. Revolutionary citizens carry SHADOW PASSPORTS. Our shadow passports express a citizenship waiting in the wings, a solidarity haunting the mainstream, floating through frontiers, across designated checkpoints, sometimes even straying between academic disciplines. For holders of shadow passports, homeland securities and border control agencies know nothing about our true identities; and official maps rarely tell us where to go: they’re useless in helping us re-orientate ourselves, in helping us find ourselves, in helping us discover one another. This paper investigates, and tries to put a fresh spin on Lefebvre right to the city thesis and on the possibilities for participatory democracy.

# Tuesday 3rd March 2015, 5.00pm - Professor Diana Liverman
Climate and Poverty in the Americas
Venue: Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

How do the poor experience climate change and how are they affected by climate policy? Many scholars, activists and policy makers have suggested that climate change will have serious negative impacts on the most vulnerable – most often defined in terms of their poverty status. They also argue that responses to climate change should be particularly sensitive to the poorest people and countries that are most vulnerable and bear little responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions. But as millions of people emerge from poverty around the world – at least according to standard development indicators – the emissions of poorer countries increase. Is this decline in poverty reflected in reduced climate vulnerability and increased capacity to adapt to climate change?

This lecture will first explore the idea of vulnerability, its relation to poverty, and how it may be changing over time and space. I will argue that we need to rethink the concept and measurement of vulnerability to capture the embodiment of climate change for individuals, to incorporate insights from critical development studies, and to recognize that constructions of vulnerability are used politically to make claims on limited climate aid. Secondly I develop a framework, grounded in political ecology, for evaluating the impacts of climate policies – emissions reductions, carbon trading and offsets, and adaptation – on poor or marginalized people. Can we develop responses to climate change that simultaneously reduce emissions, help adapt to a warmer climate, and alleviate poverty and inequality?

Examples will be drawn from a variety of research sites in the Americas, including studies of vulnerability, offsetting and adaptation in Mexico, Northeast Brazil, and the Southwestern United States. These studies demonstrate the significance of varying technologies, natures, governance structures and contexts in the successes and failures of understanding vulnerabilities and assessing the effectiveness of climate policy in the Americas.

# Monday 2nd March 2015, 4.15pm - Professor Diana Liverman Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge Regents Professor of Geography and Development and Co-Director of the Institute of the Environment University of Arizona
Neoliberalism and the environment revisited: The North American Free Trade Agreement and the US-Mexico border 20 years on
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into force in January 1994, breaking down trade barriers between the US, Canada and Mexico. Strong opposition from unions and activists resulted in environmental and labor side agreements that established some oversight and new institutions. We drew on trade theory, political economy, and especially critiques of neoliberalism to analyze the likely impacts of NAFTA, especially in Mexico and along the US-Mexico border (Liverman and Vilas 2006; Vilas-Ghiso and Liverman 2007; Liverman et al. 1999; Gallagher 2004).
Those who opposed free trade and neoliberal policies in Mexico (including social movements such as the Zapatistas) forecast devastating impacts on Mexican landscapes and livelihoods. Theoretically, NAFTA provides an important case for evaluating geographical perspectives on neoliberalism – and the value of approaches that connect material nature, political economy, social agency, discourse, and governmentality that constitute political ecology (Robbins 2011).

This lecture will compare what was projected in terms of the environmental impacts and benefits of the trade agreement with the state of the debate and the material environment 20 years later. The focus is on the US-Mexico border region and draws on reviews of literature, critical institutional analysis, longitudinal datasets, and interviews with key individuals on both sides of the border who have worked long-term in the region on environmental issues. While the impacts of NAFTA on the environment are hard to detect because of the challenges of aggregating case studies and because of other changes in the political economy of Mexico and the border region, I will argue that the effects of NAFTA are both materially and discursively far more differentiated than anticipated and seem to include some positive outcomes for people and ecosystems.

Gallagher, K.P. 2004. Free Trade and the Environment: Mexico, NAFTA, and Beyond. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.
Liverman, D.; R. Varady; O. Chavez; and R. Sanchez. 1999. Environmental Issues along the US Mexico border: Drivers of Change and Responses of Citizens and Institutions. Annual Review of Energy and the Environment 24:607-643.
Liverman, D.M. and S. Vilas. 2006. Neoliberalism and the Environment in Latin America. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 31:327-363.
Robbins, P. 2011. Political ecology: A critical introduction. John Wiley & Sons.
Vilas-Ghiso, S. and D. Liverman. 2007. Scale, technique and composition effects in the Mexican agricultural sector: the influence of NAFTA and the institutional environment. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics 7:137-169.

# Thursday 26th February 2015, 4.15pm - Professor Richard Dawson, Earth Systems Engineering, Newcastle University
Adapting Cities and Their Infrastructure to Global Change: An Integrated Modelling Approach to Understand Risks and Tradeoffs
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

The urgent need to reconfigure urban areas to emit less pollution (including greenhouse gases), be more resilient to climate risks and more sustainable in general can be assisted by rigorous analysis of these complex systems. In this talk I shall present the Urban Integrated Assessment Framework (UIAF) that was developed initially as part of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research Cities Programme and subsequently advanced via several other projects. The UIAF provides a consistent framework for analysis of greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks in the context of multiple drivers of long term change. A case study in London (U.K.) shows that risks from heatwaves, droughts and floods could more than double and CO2 emissions could rise 28% without adaptation and mitigation over the 21st century. Notably, socio-economic drivers are responsible for a greater proportion, compared to climate change, of increased weather risks. There are also trade-offs in climate risks, land use choices and energy demand from adaptation policies. The work highlights the need for portfolios of adaptation and mitigation options, providing the evidence to motivate climate-sensitive development in London. Finally, I shall consider the role of tools like the UIAF and their utility for informing spatial development strategies such as the London Plan after a placement at the Greater London Authority.

Prof. Dawson is currently Professor of Earth Systems and Engineering at Newcastle University. He is also the Director of the Centre for Earth Systems Engineering Research (CERER) at Newcastle, a EPSRC Research Fellow, and co-ordinates the Climate Change Research Cities Programme at the Tyndall Centre. He holds an MEng and PhD from the University of Bristol.

# Thursday 5th February 2015, 4.15pm - Professor Melissa Leach, Institute of Development Studies
Ebola and beyond: Interlaced inequalities, unsustainabilities and insecurities in a global development era
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

As the Ebola crisis continues to unfold across West Africa and the international community belatedly but now intensely responds, bigger, broader questions arise beyond the immediate challenges on the ground. What does the Ebola crisis reveal about contemporary patterns of environment, health and development? What would it take to build more equal, sustainable and resilient societies and systems, so that the events we are seeing in 2014 do not happen again? Can this crisis provide a moment for reframing development, in the region and beyond? In order to understand the causes and consequences of this particular outbreak, and to prevent such disasters in the future, our attention must turn to why such outbreaks occur in the first place and why they often have such devastating impacts in some places and times and not in others. The magnitude and persistence of the current crisis has exposed the hazards of living in a highly interconnected yet inequitable global political and economic system, and the consequences that can emerge from underdevelopment and related ‘structural violence’. In turn, reflecting on these processes can help define future research and development priorities for a world where the risks of zoonotic disease emergence are growing.

# Thursday 11th December 2014, 4.15pm - Professor Timothy Ingold, Anthropology, University of Aberdeen
Of Knots and Blocks: Dwelling in Smooth Space
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Modern thinking about architecture, landscape, language and mind has been dominated by the related metaphors of the building block, the chain and the container. These metaphors lead us to think of a world which is not so much woven from ever ravelling and unravelling strands as assembled from pre-cut pieces. Here I argue for the power of an alternative metaphor, the knot. In a world where things are continually coming into being through processes of growth and movement – that is, in a world of life – knotting, I contend, is the fundamental principle of coherence. It is the way forms are held together and kept in place within what would otherwise be a formless and inchoate flux. Is there a connection between thinking-though-knotting and an understanding of the inhabited world as the interpenetration of earth below and sky above, rather than as a homogeneous ground upon which the architectures of the environment are erected?

# Thursday 20th November 2014, 4.15pm - Professor Miles Ogborn, Geography, Queen Mary University of London
The Freedom of Speech: Talk and Slavery in Jamaica and Barbados
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

This paper explores the idea that empires are oral cultures too. It will examine the significant investment in ‘forms of talk’ of Britain’s Atlantic empire of the long eighteenth century – in sermons, speeches, oaths, evidence giving, orders, prayers, polite conversation and debating – and their role in the process of making, and challenging, imperial identities and forms of imperial rule. Examining the highly asymmetrical slave societies of the Caribbean (Barbados and Jamaica), it investigates how speech practices both underpinned and contested notions of freedom and bondage.

# Thursday 23rd October 2014, 4.15pm - Professor Siwan Davies, Geography, Swansea University
Ash, Ice, Mud: Tephras and Rapid Climate Changes
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Little has challenged our understanding of climate change more so than the abruptness with which large-scale shifts in temperature occurred during the last glacial period. Atmospheric temperature jumps occurring within decades over Greenland were closely matched by rapid changes in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures and major re-organisation of the deep ocean circulation. Although these climatic instabilities are well-documented in various proxy records, the causal mechanisms of such short-lived oscillations remain poorly understood, largely due to the dating uncertainties that prevent the integration of different archives. This talk explores how microscopic traces of volcanic events can be used to precisely correlate the Greenland ice-cores with North Atlantic marine records. These time-lines are used to constrain the lead/lag responses between the atmospheric and oceanic systems during the last glacial period.

# Friday 12th September 2014, 4.00pm - Prof. Nick Blomley
The Space of Property
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Nick Blomley will present a department seminar entitled The space of property, drawing in an interdisciplinary audience from geography, anthropology and law.

# Thursday 15th May 2014, 4.30pm - Professor Donald MacKenzie, University of Edinburgh
Machines and Markets: The Island Matching Engine and the Inversion of Finance
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

This paper examines an important ‘slice’ of the history of today’s fully automated high-frequency trading: the emergence in the 1990s of Island, a new venue for the electronic trading of shares, and the development of its matching engine (a matching engine is the part of an exchange’s computer system that consummates trades). The paper will explore a number of analytical themes, including:
• Innovation as locally-situated bricolage, where the local situation included one of the sharpest ever conflicts within U.S. finance.
• Island’s matching engine as a machine that compressed time and (subjectively) expanded space.
• An actor-network theory ‘inversion’, in which the ‘micro’ became ‘macro’ and vice versa.
The paper will be a development of a joint article with Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra, which is forthcoming in Economy and Society.

# Thursday 8th May 2014, 4.30pm - Professor Peter Coates, University of Bristol
We regret this seminar has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances
CANCELLED: Fluvio-centric Currents of River History: From the Mersey to the Po
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

In many environmental histories, rivers feature primarily as victims of human abuse. This paper shifts the perspective, focusing on what rivers do to us rather than what we do to them. Rivers illustrate the limits of human authority as well as our transformative abilities, and their capacity to shape and inspire us is as strong as our ability to harness and pollute them. Environmental historian Peter Coates will examine the possibilities of a fluvio-centric version of liquid history. Rather than taking a view from the bridge, he considers the view from under the bridge.

# Thursday 13th March 2014, 4.30pm - Professor John Lowe, Emeritus Professor of Quaternary Science of the University of London, Gordon Manley Professor of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London
Climate Confusion: Lessons and Pitfalls in the Study of Climates Past
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Accurate reconstruction of the timing and pattern of past climate variations is pivotal to a wide range of scientific studies. Climate modellers may use the results to test the functioning and/or predictive capabilities of numerical climate simulations. Earth scientists use them to assess the role of climate forcing on a range of earth surface processes, operating over very different timescales. Archaeologists have long considered the possible influence of climate on human evolution and dispersal. Part of the remit of environmental science is to understand how climatic factors regulate processes of major societal significance, such as groundwater recharge, aridification and flood recurrence. These various studies all depend upon the availability of reliable climatic histories, and an understanding of how the global climate system works. However, recent discoveries are increasingly pointing to a serious and pervasive problem in this regard, especially with regard to how we measure the global environmental response to abrupt climatic events (those that take place in less than one hundred years). In this talk I will endeavour to address, and to stimulate debate about, three things: (a) the nature of the problem, by referring to recent advances in our understanding of the history of global climate variability during the late Quaternary (the last c.150,000 years or so); (b) the promise that new approaches in geological dating offer for delivering more precise chronologies of past climatic variation; and © the challenges that lie ahead, and that need to be met, before the stamp of climate change on the geo-archaeological record can be appraised with more assurance.

# Thursday 27th February 2014, 4.30pm - Professor Harriet Bulkeley, Durham University
Accomplishing Climate Governance: new politics, new geographies?
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

As the promise of mega multilateralism, by which the international community could design and implement universal agreements to address global affairs, appears to run its course, a growing body of research and policy work has sought to understand the multiple means through which climate change is governed. For the most part, such analyses have been concerned with issues of design – of how and by whom different kinds of arrangements and regimes might be established, the principles that they should follow, and their potential effectiveness. Other research has sought to examine the nature and politics of the forms of climate governance emerging amongst and in-between existing arrangements – what Hoffmann (2011) terms ‘climate governance experiments’. Here too a focus has been on the institutions, interests and actors involved, and the extent to which such initiatives could be at least, if not more, effective than national policies or international agreements. Relatively less attention has been paid to the how governing climate change is accomplished – the means, techniques and practices through which it is conducted. In this paper, I draw on recent research in the UK that has sought to examine the ways in which governing climate change is being accomplished in a range of arenas that cut across traditional divides between the state, private sector and community. The paper examines two sets of issues. First, how authority, or authorisation, is achieved in the absence of what is deemed to be the traditional power of the state or the democratic conferral of legitimacy. Second, the ways in which techniques of calculation, commensuration and community are deployed (and contested) in order to govern. It draws on examples from Tesco, HSBC, and Hexham Hydro to examine these issues and their implications for how we might engage with the new politics and geographies of responding to climate change.

# Thursday 13th February 2014, 4.30pm - Professor Paul Robbins, International Fellow, from University of Wisconsin-Madison
Paul Robbins is an International Visiting Fellow in Geography.
No Going Back: The Scientific and Political Ethics of Ecological Novelty
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

This presentation argues that Ecological Novelty, a condition where new species and mixes of species come to form persistent communities with no precedent, holds unavoidable implications for science. It argues that the “Edenic” sciences focusing on these ecologies— conservation biology, invasion biology/ecology, and restoration ecology—though extremely valuable, are inherently political. Though this has always been the case, the rapid changes in environments around us have made the political implications of these sciences harder to ignore or disguise. As such, these fields will necessarily need to evolve an ethical procedure to adjudicate between ecological interventions, rather than depending on restorative or originary criteria. Further, the evolution of these criteria and standards will necessarily be rooted in principles that come to terms with the political implications and character of scientists and scientific practice within broader diverse publics. The presentation concludes with a brief puzzle for consideration: the ethics of producing and managing biodiversity in the economically productive plantation landscapes of labor-scarce rural India.

# Wednesday 12th February 2014, 5.00pm - Dr Paul Robbins; Department of Geography International Fellow & University of Wisconsin-Madison
Joint seminar, hosted with the Cambridge University Geographical Society (CUGS)
Producing Eden: Can wildlife thrive beyond national parks in India?
Venue: Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Abstract not available

# Tuesday 11th February 2014, 1.00pm - Professor Paul Robbins, International Fellow from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Paul Robbins leads an Early Career Researcher Seminar
Venue: Seminar Room

Abstract not available

# Thursday 23rd January 2014, 4.30pm - Professor Alison Blunt, Queen Mary, University of London
Co-hosted with the University's ESRC Doctoral Training Centre
At Home in a Diaspora City: Urban Domesticities and Domestic Urbanism
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

This paper is about the city as home for people living in diaspora. It is part of a broader attempt to think about the relationships between homes and cities in terms of both urban domesticities (home-making in the city) and domestic urbanism (the city itself as home). It develops two key areas of debate. First, in contrast to research that explores diasporic homes in relation to domestic home-making and/or the nation as home or ‘homeland,’ it foregrounds the diaspora city as home. Second, building on research on transnational urbanism, translocality and the importance of the ‘city scale’ in migration studies, it argues that the city is a distinctive location of diasporic dwelling, belonging and attachment. The paper considers what it means to be at home in a diaspora city by drawing on two research projects: first, the urban attachments of Anglo-Indian and Chinese Calcuttans who live in London and Toronto; and, second, the relationships between home and the city for diaspora communities in East London.

# Thursday 28th November 2013, 4.15pm - Professor Anson W. Mackay, Environmental Change Research Centre, University College London
Unravelling Long-term Ecosystem Dynamics in Central Asia Using Palaeoecology
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Paleoecology combines biological, geochemical and molecular information from natural archives to reconstruct ecological and environmental systems deep into the past. Inspired by the Priority Question exercises pioneered by Bill Sutherland, I recently co-organised a workshop to identify 50 priority questions in palaeoecology. In this talk I will address some of major themes identified in the workshop through research being undertaken on aquatic ecosystems in central Asia, especially Lake Baikal, one of the world’s most unusual freshwater bodies. For example, Baikal’s uninterrupted 12 million year+ record brings new insight into biodiversity over long timescales, especially evolution and extinction of diatoms, key primary producers. Organic geochemistry analyses reveal strong teleconnections between changes in North Atlantic ocean circulation and carbon dynamics during the early Holocene in central Asia. Finally, the palaeoecological record suggests a climate and boreal-steppe environment sensitive to abrupt changes in climate, even during the late Holocene.

# Thursday 14th November 2013, 4.15pm - Professor Andrew Barry, Dept. of Geography, University College London
Interrogating the Political Situation: Between Science Studies and the Geography of Politics
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

In this paper I draw a series of connections between two bodies of work. One derives from the long-standing concern of geographers, as well as political theorists and analysts, in the contingency, temporality and spatiality of political life, or what I term ‘political situations’. The second develops from the established and abiding interest of historians and sociologists of science in the dynamics of scientific knowledge controversies, as well as recent attempts to ‘map’ controversies using digital methods. This broad tradition of research has inspired a series of studies by geographers and others of environmental scientific controversies relating to problems such as climate change, colony collapse disorder, nuclear waste and flood risk. Focusing on recent political events in Europe, I address both the limitations and the relevance of studies of scientific controversies to those interested in the geography of on-going political situations.

# Thursday 10th October 2013, 4.15pm - Dr. Claire Marris, King's College London
Expecting the Best and the Worst from Synthetic Biology
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Synthetic biology aims to make biology easier to engineer. The idea is that scientists and engineers can work together to implement a rational design cycle similar to that used in aeronautics or informatics, but based on biological parts rather than mechanical and electronic ones. Well-characterised and catalogued biological parts would be assembled into devices and larger systems that predictably perform human-designed functions within host cells – renamed “chassis” in this context. Proponents of this emerging field argue that it has huge economic and industrial potential and that it can help address important global health, energy and environmental problems. At the same time, worries are expressed that by making biology easier for anyone to engineer, the knowledge and biological parts produced could be used by ‘outsiders’ for malevolent purposes, such as bioweapons, or that unqualified DIY biologists may inadvertently unleash harmful organisms into the environment. Proponents also worry that ‘the public’ will react unfavourably to the idea of scientists making ‘living machines’ or ‘creating Life from scratch’. I will argue that, somewhat ironically, expectations about the potential use of synthetic biology by terrorists and about fearful public reactions are part of the promissory construction of synthetic biology. Positive and negative expectations for synthetic biology are based on the same speculative assumptions about the field’s ability to produce and provide easy access to well-characterised biological parts that function predictably when assembled and inserted into living chassis. My research on contemporary experimental practices of synthetic biologists suggests that challenging these assumptions is important and would lead to re-directing policy concerns and public debate to more mundane but no less important issues, for example about what happens if and when the predictability and containment of engineered biology cannot be assured.

# Thursday 9th May 2013, 4.15pm - John Agnew, UCLA and Queen's University, Belfast
Territorial Politics after the Financial Crisis
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

In this lecture I redefine the financial crisis as a crisis of governance rather than as a primarily economic one conforming to the typical state-by-state framing of macroeconomics. I begin with a brief account of the mismatch between the geographical activities of major financial actors, on the one hand, and the geographical scope of state regulators, on the other. I then address three geographical dimensions of the mismatch and their consequences for territorial politics at different scales: what I term “low geopolitics” or the increased importance of economic matters involving non-state actors (credit-rating agencies, large law firms, producer-service organizations, etc.) often beyond the regulatory competence of particular states or international organizations for world politics; the increased political tensions between so-called world cities, on the one hand, and their surrounding hinterlands, on the other, particularly when national government fiscal and monetary policies favor the biggest cities over the rest of their territories; and the difficulties of “devolution” to local and regional governments when expenditures are devolved but revenue-raising and regulatory powers are not. I wish to question two developing narratives about territorial politics in the aftermath of the financial crisis: that which sees an “inevitable” return to a state-based world of finance and associated regulation and that which sees a decline in the possibilities of political devolution as a result of the crisis.

# Thursday 2nd May 2013, 4.15pm - Michael Hulme,University of East Anglia
The scientific and cultural dynamics of climate change (1988-2013)
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

In 1988 few serious commentators believed that the politics of climate change would be anything other than tortuous. Yet the assumption has remained through the period since that human-induced climate change is an important, urgent and discrete problem which at least in principle lends itself to policy solutions. Optimism has waxed and waned, but the belief has been maintained that at least some forms of policy intervention will yield tangible public benefits. [[Yes, the climatic side-effects of large-scale combustion of fossil fuels were an unforeseen and undesirable outcome of Western and then global industrialisation. But putting this causal chain into reverse—arresting some of these unwanted side-effects—was believed to be in the reach of an intelligent, purposeful and ingenious humanity]]. This presumption must now be questioned. Maybe the climate system cannot be managed by humans. This brief survey of climate change over 25 years suggests at least two reasons why. First, there is no ‘plan’, no self-evidently correct way of framing and tackling the phenomenon of climate change which will over-ride different legitimate interests and force convergence of political action. Second, climate science keeps on generating different forms of knowledge about climate—different handles on climate change—which are suggestive of different forms of political and institutional response to climate change. Or put more generally, science asa form of creative inquiry into the physical world co-evolves with the physical phenomena it is seeking to understand. Taken together these two lessons suggest other ways of engaging with the idea of climate change, not as a discrete environmental phenomenon to prevent, control or manage, but as a forceful idea which carries creative potential.

# Thursday 28th February 2013, 4.15pm - Professor John Urry, University of Lancaster
Mobility Systems and their Futures
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

This paper will present an analysis of the ways in which mobilities are assembled into various sociotechnical systems, how those systems come to be path-dependent structuring practices and habits, how such paths are almost all oil-dependent, and how oil is just such a problem in the contemporary world. The paper will draw upon John Urry’s ‘Societies beyond Oil’ (Zed, 2013) which demonstrates the extraordinary ‘oiling’ of society in the last century and the many problems oil generates within the present.

# Thursday 7th February 2013, 4.15pm - Dr. Steven Wooding, RAND Europe
Evaluating the impact of medical research, why bother?
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Steve’s talk will cover the various reasons to try and assess research wider impacts of research (Advocacy, Accountability, Analysis and Allocation) and why it might (or might not) be worthwhile. He will focus primarily on biomedical research presenting a range of research evaluation studies that use a variety of different tools, however, the reasons for assessment and some of the tools could be similar across disciplines.

# Thursday 24th January 2013, 4.15pm - Professor Craig Jeffrey, University of Oxford
Generative Politics: Youth, Mobilization and the State
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

This paper uses research in India to highlight the possibilities of youth politics and vitality of civil society in the global South. We also develop a new theory of generative politics. Generative politics is to be understood as forms of everyday political action that are not primarily about the allocation of scarce resources or competition for goods. More specifically, generative politics refers to practices that entail navigating conflict and building consensus with a view to creating resources for the poor, where “resources” are understood broadly to include social networks, information and confidence as well as jobs, assets and money. The scholarly and public implications of being able to show that young people are involved in generative politics – and also of charting the limits of generative politics and its contradictions – are very significant indeed, enhancing scholarly and public understanding of possibilities for youth mobilization and encouraging powerful institutions to view young people not simply as problems, potentials, voters, or volunteers, but co-creators of democracy.

# Thursday 29th November 2012, 4.15pm - Professor Richard Drayton, King's College, University of London
Time, Space, and the Human Sciences: Some notes on a contemporary crisis
Venue: Seminar Room, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Abstract to follow shortly.

# Thursday 8th November 2012, 4.15pm - Dr. Mark Mulligan, King's College, University of London
Modelling in support of policy negotiations for increasing food production whilst maintaining hydrological ecosystem services in the Andes
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

This talk will discuss the role of data and modelling in policy support around food and water through a discussion of the approaches pioneered by the Challenge Programme on Water and Food projects in the Andes system of basins. I will focus on the role of modelling, alongside theoretical developments and field science, in providing policy-relevant understanding and also highlight the challenges of modelling in data-poor but problem-rich developing country environments. I will discuss the development of the WaterWorld Policy Support System (, its biophysical basis and innovations as well as the role it plays in the understanding of hydrological ecosystem services and the negotiation of benefit sharing mechanisms for water (such as payments for ecosystem services schemes) at sites throughout the tropics. Though there are risks to making models like WaterWorld available and accessible for non-hydrologists and non-modellers to use in such policy contexts, there are also considerable benefits in bridging science with application and filling some of the informational vacuums in which policies or management decisions sometimes have to be made.

# Thursday 18th October 2012, 4.15pm - Professor Sarah Whatmore, Oxford University
Where natural and social science meet? Reflections on an experiment in geographical practice
Venue: Seminar Room, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Like archaeology and anthropology, the range of research and pedagogy undertaken in the name of geography spans subject matter and approaches to it found across the spectrum of the humanities, social and natural sciences. Suspended between the magnetic poles of ‘human’ and ‘physical’ geography, the diversity of the geographical project is a source of both strength and weakness. At its best, it equips scholars to tack between radically different knowledge practices, fostering an inventive inter-disciplinarity rather than a prescribed path to some transcendent integration. However, geography’s identity as an inter-discipline that works across the division of social and natural sciences can be argued to be realised more effectively today in the co-habitation of ‘physical’ and ‘human’ geographers in shared buildings and curricula, than in research practice. As the contents of disciplinary journals and the publication habits of those working in the two wings of the discipline attest, both are commonly more conversant with work in cognate disciplines through common fields of interest (such as urban studies or glaciology) than with each other’s. In this, as historians of geography have argued, geographical practice has always been exercised through different sites, techniques and materials which have kept it a heterogeneous and contested enterprise. Yet these features – heterogeneity and contestation – are surely characteristic of all disciplines, and would be unremarkable were it not for the weight attached in the geographical tradition to integrating natural and social worlds.

# Thursday 1st March 2012, 12.30pm - Andy Tucker, Dept of Geography, University of Cambridge
Exploring the impact of the Ukwazana Programme - the first structural HIV prevention programme for Men who have Sex with Men in Africa
Venue: Seminar Room, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Up until recently the HIV pandemic in Africa has been viewed as one overwhelmingly defined by heterosexual transmission. Left relatively unacknowledged has been the fact that at the same time as heterosexual transmission Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) have continued to be infected with the virus and continued to infect each other. Simultaneously recent developments in HIV prevention strategies have attempted to move beyond ‘individualistic’ programmes focused primarily on information dissemination and condom provision towards more ‘structural’ approaches that take into account social circumstances that can hinder individual ability to practice safer-sex. This talk will discuss the first attempt at a structural HIV prevention initiative aimed at MSM in Africa – The Ukwazana (‘brining people together’) programme. It will summaries the innovative strategies designed through a collaborative effort between the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies and the South African Anova Health Institute to have a lasting impact on HIV prevalence and incidence among MSM in the townships of Cape Town. It will also explore some of the barriers that needed to be overcome in developing such a programme, including township homophobia and an historical lack of appreciation among diverse actors as to the seriousness of MSM HIV infection in the region.

# Thursday 24th November 2011, 12.30pm - Janice Stargardt, Professorial Research Fellow in Asian Historical Archaeology & Geography
Irrigation Resurrected in South Thailand
Venue: Seminar Room, Department of Geography, Downing Site

While carrying out environmental surveys in Songkhla Province, South Thailand in the 1980s, my research group and I identified a number of ancient canals and storage tanks on aerial photographs. Their existence was verified by ground truthing and further research uncovered an extensive irrigation system covering some 800 sq. km. Most of these works were heavily sedimented and no longer functional, exceptions being small areas of the storage tanks which were being exploited as beds for rice seedlings. Eventually my group cored all parts of this system so as to establish the original profiles of depth, breadth and, where possible, significant stages of their history of maintenance and neglect. This work included measurements of slope, rainfall and calculations of probable water movement. We prepared new maps of this area with corrections to place names, topography and representing the ancient irrigation system. These maps were immediately adopted by the Royal Thai Ordinance Survey Department and attracted the attention of the King of Thailand. He provided funds for the initial reconstruction of a segment of the irrigation system; the work was completed recently by the Irrigation Department of the Ministry of Agriculture in cooperation with myself. Its resurrection has had a major impact on the harvests obtained by the farming families of these districts.

# Thursday 20th October 2011, 12.30pm - Clive Oppenheimer (University of Cambridge)
A Novel Technique or Monitoring Volcanic Plumes: from innovation to operational application
Venue: Seminar Room, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Measurements of sulphur emissions from volcanoes underpin eruption forecasting. They are also crucial to understanding natural variability in contemporary global climate. Means for accurate measurement of volcanic sulphur emissions are thus of tremendous significance. Since 2001, the means for collecting and analysing such data have advanced substantially thanks to the availability of a new generation of cheap and versatile ultraviolet spectrometers. I’ll review the underpinning research that enabled these instruments to be used reliably (focussing on the contributions made by the Cambridge Volcanology Group), and the impacts that the new technologies have had on volcanic hazard assessment and risk management. Serendipity played as much of a role in the research progress and outcomes as did hypothesis testing and planning. I’ll discuss and reflect on the background to our work in this area and its wider significance, and the remaining challenges to full exploitation of the technology.

# Thursday 12th May 2011, 12.30pm - Fabian Michelangeli, Simon Bolivar Professor, Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge 2010-11
TEPUI: Biological islands lost in space and time. From origins to conservation
Venue: Hardy Building 101, Downing Site

From a vast sea of rain forest in southern Venezuela emerge a set of mountains like no others on earth. These mountains – known as Tepuis — of relatively flat summits and vertical walls, rising several thousand feet over the forest floor, are the remnants of a gigantic plateau that once covered the Guayana shield, and represent today one of the most spectacular, and for the most part unknown, landscapes on the planet. Tepuis can be considered as a living laboratory of evolution, similar to the Galápagos Islands that inspired Darwin’s The Origin of Species. Since the first ascent of Roraima-tepuy in 1884 by Im Thurn and Perkins, these mountains, sacred to the region’s indigenous inhabitants, have fascinated scientists and adventurers alike, yet essential questions regarding the origin of tepuy flora and fauna remain to date unsolved. Tepuis are now protected under the Venezuelan National Park System, but numerous threats to its preservation remain. The seminar will draw out the issues of biodiversity, conservation and the context of the new geopolitics.

The rocks that constitute this formation are mostly sandstones dating back several billion years and that were laid upon the shield at the very origin of the earth’s crust. Fragmentation of the plateau and the subsequent erosion over several hundred million years gave rise to the mountain system we know today. Some fifty summits witness these geological processes. The isolation in space and time originated a rich and peculiar flora and fauna that evolved separately and parallel to give rise to a very high degree of endemism. The geography and topography of this “island system” has a tremendous influence on the local and regional climate and this, on the other hand, on the evolutionary processes that took and are still taking place.

# Wednesday 11th May 2011, 12.30pm - Tomas Koontz, Ohio State University
Collaborative Watershed Management: Social Science Research Across the Pond" (NB: Additional Seminar)
Venue: Hardy Building 101, Downing Site

The “collaborative turn” in environmental policy has been a major theme in the United States over the past two decades. Collaboration and stakeholder participation are seen as important ways to address environmental issues, such as water pollution, that cross existing government boundaries. Along with changes in policy and management have come research studies focusing on these phenomena. This presentation discusses the evolution of social science research on collaborative watershed management (CWM) in the U.S. Scholars have developed multiple streams of inquiry stemming from basic questions about how CWM effort operate and what they accomplish, who participates and why, the impacts of collaboration on individuals and communities, and links to natural science and multiple scales. Findings suggest important areas for future research.

# Thursday 5th May 2011, 5.00pm - Tania Murray Li
Rethinking Development, or the Improvement of the World
Venue: Seminar Room, Department of Geography, Downing Site

From the colonial period to the present governing authorities, experts and self-appointed “trustees” have diagnosed deficiencies in landscapes and populations, and devised technical schemes to bring about improvement. They set out to alleviate poverty, but exclude key political-economic relations from their technical domain. Yet there are conjunctures at which the question of poverty is understood in terms that clearly demand political settlements, and we may see signs of this in the distributive welfare regimes currently emerging in parts of the global south.

# Thursday 24th February 2011, 12.30pm - Martin Lucas-Smith, University of Cambridge
OpenStreetMap and CycleStreets: collaborative map-making and cartography in the age of the internet
Venue: Hardy Building 101, Downing Site (please note change of venue)

The arrival of web-based mapping from Google and others has revolutionised, in the space of only five years, the way many people interact with maps and map data. And the success of projects such as Wikipedia highlight how collation of small amounts of information from large numbers of people – an approach called ‘crowdsourcing’ – can challenge traditional models of data collection and ownership. Bringing these concepts together is OpenStreetMap, a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. Well-established enterprises such as the Ordnance Survey are coming under increased pressure from this new model, and large companies such as MapQuest and Microsoft are starting to use and invest in it. Martin Lucas-Smith, Webmaster in the Department, and one of two main developers of the leading UK-wide cycle journey planner website, CycleStreets, will discuss OpenStreetMap, its use within a wide range of systems (from cartography, routing, and even its central role helping deal with the Haiti disaster) and discuss the challenges it poses to traditional forms of cartography and data collection.

Slides and resources from this talk are now available at

# Thursday 10th February 2011, 12.30pm - Dr. William Nuttall, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
Nuclear Renaissance
Venue: Hardy Building 101, Downing Site (please note change of venue)

There is much talk of a ‘nuclear renaissance’. What is motivating such expectations and what might such a renaissance look like? These are the questions to be tackled in Dr Nuttall’s presentation. He will argue that the main drivers for nuclear energy are those that drive all current major decisions in electricity generation; namely concerns for energy economics, energy security and climate change. The attributes of nuclear energy will be considered in such respects, but Dr Nuttall will argue that nuclear energy brings with it some additional considerations, some of which have proven very tricky for policy makers.

# Thursday 27th January 2011, 12.30pm - Professor Ann Markusen, University of Minnesota
The Geography of Arts and Culture: An Occupational Approach
Venue: Hardy Building 101, Downing Site (please note change of venue)

Compared with cultural industries, cultural workers are understudied in economic geography and regional science, reflecting in general a misplaced emphasis on industries at the expense of occupations. Artists (including musicians, actors, dancers, writers, designers) are unique in their high rates of high self-employment, propensity to relocate inter-regionally, and ability to work across commercial, non-profit and community sectors. Markusen offers a number of hypotheses about how self-employed artists choose to locate among regions and neighborhoods and how this varies across career cycles. She also contends that the occupational structure of a cultural industry in one place will not necessarily resemble that in another. Using US Census data (a one in five sample of the entire US population), Markusen provides evidence for these propositions and explores how arts and cultural workers are distributed among cultural and other industries and across major US metros. The talk also explores artists’ roles in creative placemaking—the deliberate shaping of regions, neighborhoods and small towns through cultural initiatives—and how these can be evaluated. The analysis demonstrates the use of occupations to conceptualize the regional workforce and to study urban and regional economies comparatively.

# Tuesday 14th December 2010, 12.30pm - Ms. Erjia Ge
Using knowledge fusion to map avian influenza H5N1 in East and Southeast Asia
Venue: Seminar Room, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1, a disease associated with high rates of mortality in infected human populations, poses a serious threat to public health in many parts of the world. This article reports findings from a study aimed at improving our understanding of the spatial pattern of avian influenza risk in East-Southeast Asia where the disease is both persistent and devastating. It is recognized that many different disciplines have made and continue to make important contributions to our understanding of HPAI H5N1. However, it remains a challenge to integrate knowledge from different disciplines. This article reports the findings from a study that applies genetic analysis that identifies the evolution of the H5N1 virus in space and time, epidemiological analysis that determines socio-ecological factors associated with H5N1 occurrence and statistical cluster analysis that identifies outbreak clusters, and then applies a methodology to formally integrate the three sets of findings. The present study is novel in two respects. First it uses genetic sequences and space-time data to create a phylogenetic tree to estimate the virus’ ability to spread. This is the first attempt to provide a mapping of the H5N1 virus derived from the phylogenetic tree. Second, by integrating the results obtained from the three methodologies we are able to generate insights into the occurrence and space-time spread of H5N1 that we believe have a higher level of corroboration than is possible when analysis is based on only one methodology. Our research identifies links between the occurrence of H5N1 by area and a set of socio-ecological factors including altitude, population density, poultry density, as well as the shortest path distances to inland water, coastlines, routes followed by migrating birds, railways, and roads. This study seeks to lay a solid foundation for the inter-disciplinary study of this and other influenza outbreaks. It will provide substantive information for public health bodies with responsibility for containing H5N1 outbreaks.

# Friday 12th November 2010, 1.00pm - Amita Baviskar, Associate Professor of Sociology, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi
Spectacular Events, Urban Space and Citizenship: The Commonwealth Games in Delhi and Beyond
Venue: Large Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Abstract not available

# Tuesday 21st September 2010, 2.00pm - Professor Ash Amin, Professor of Geography and Director of the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University
Cities and the ethic of care among strangers
Venue: Department of Geography, Downing Site

Abstract not available

# Wednesday 9th June 2010, 12.30pm - Dr Simon Kingham (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)
The impact of choice of transport mode on personal pollution exposure
Venue: Seminar Room, Department of Geography, Downing Site

The climate change debate has resulted in a greater focus on sustainable transport and initiatives that are being introduced to encourage more people to use public transport, cycling and walking as their mode of transport. However, in New Zealand (and many other lower traffic, lower population density countries) we know virtually nothing of the public health implications of doing this, and globally research produces conflicting results. This paper will present the findings of some New Zealand research that assessed the comparative risk associated with exposure to traffic pollution when travelling on different transport modes including car, bike, bus and train. Data for ultrafine particles, PM10, PM2.5, PM1 and carbon monoxide were collected in Auckland and Christchruch, New Zealand. In addition time activity data was collected using a combination of GPS data, sounds and photos. Results show that the choice of mode has significant implications for personal pollution exposure. In addition individual events on journeys can result in significantly raised spikes in exposure.

# Thursday 13th May 2010, 12.30pm - Professor Susan Smith (Girton College, University of Cambridge)
Who gets what, where, in the tangled world of housing finance: the vexed question of price
Venue: Seminar Room, Department of Geography, Downing Site

The uneven, and increasingly unstable integration of housing, mortgage and financial markets tied households’ budgets to global financial flows to an unprecedented extent. This volatile mix, in turn, sparked the origins, and shaped the consequences, of unimaginable economic disarray. Accounting for this is nevertheless hampered by an ‘elephant in the room’ in the shape of home price dynamics. Few concepts so critical to the workings of the housing economy – so implicated in the accumulation and disintegration of global and local financial fortunes – are so widely aired, so assiduously analysed, and so little understood. In this presentation I argue that, notwithstanding significant achievements, economics has struggled to account for the history, geography and trajectory of home prices using tried and tested tools. At the same time, other disciplines, ostensibly well-placed to contribute, have tended to stand back. As the analytical task becomes more urgent, this paper assesses the scope for rapprochement. Can cross-disciplinary alliances – the kind that geography so often helps anchor – establish whether housing markets are driven by hidden hands, animal spirits or some other financial intelligence? And what does this have to do with creating more sustainable financial futures?

# Tuesday 27th April 2010, 12.30pm - Dr Pallav Purohit
Renewable energy in India - opportunities and challenges
Venue: Seminar Room, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Abstract not available

# Thursday 28th May 2009, 4.15pm - Neil Arnold (Geography/SPRI)
From sky to sea: modelling the production and movement of meltwater through ice sheets and glaciers
Venue: Hardy Building Room 101, Department of Geography, Downing Site

This paper reviews the development of models of glacier mass and energy balance and hydrology currently underway by members of the Scott Polar Research Institute, in collaboration with other research institutes, including the Norsk PolarInstitutt, Norway, and GEUS, Denmark.
The modelling strategy builds on the pioneering ‘Arolla’ projects based in the Department of Geography in the 1990s through to the early 2000s. This work saw the development of a physically-based, distributed model that could track the production of melt (using an energy balance approach), the supraglacial flow of water, and its entry and subsequent routing in an evolving subglacial hydrological system. The energy balance model component has now been successfully applied to model the long-term mass balance of a Svalbard glacier, Midre Lovenbreen, over the previous 30 years. The current generation of this model uses ERA40 reanalysis data to drive the model, and it includes accumulation and a detailed treatment of the subsurface processes, including re-freezing of meltwater within the snow pack. We hope to expand this model to encompass the whole of Svalbard, and eventually, the Greenland Ice Sheet.
The subglacial hydrological component is also now being used to model the flow of water beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet. Many studies have shown acceleration of flow of the GrIS, driven in some areas by increased inputs of surface water through the body of the ice sheet. Theory would suggest that this will raise subglacial water pressure, and increase flow velocity, and a model-based approach can help to understand the nature and consequences of these changes in water availability. The large ice thicknesses mean that the behaviour of the model drainage system is quite different to that in small glaciers, however; large ice thicknesses lead to rapid collapse of any tunnel-based drainage system, unlike for valley glaciers where the tunnels are relatively stable over a summer season. Ultimately, we aim to link the mass/energy balance model to the hydrology model in order to better predict the possible response of the ice sheet to climatic change.

# Wednesday 13th May 2009, 10.30am - Speaker to be confirmed
Spaces of Economy & Society Cluster Seminar
Venue: Hardy Building 101

Full information at

# Thursday 7th May 2009, 4.15pm - Jonathan Kingsley (Visiting Scholar Cambridge/Deakin)
Healthy Country, Healthy People
Venue: Seminar Room, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Literature indicates that contact with nature significantly contributes to psychological, physiological and social benefits for humans. At the same time relatively little is known about the intangible benefits that come from the nature experience and what aspects of the experience contribute to these benefits. These issues are poorly understood especially in respect to Australia’s Indigenous populations. Thus, the focus of my PhD is to explore the intangible benefits that relate to nature and their role in health, well-being and social capital, with a particular focus on Indigenous people.

The goal of the work is to gain a deeper understanding of the intangible benefits that nature affords. This study focuses on three separate nature experiences; 1. Community gardening. 2. Indigenous land management in Victoria, Australia. 3. Development of a well-being tool measuring the benefit of contact with nature with people in the UK compared to Australia.

# Saturday 25th April 2009, 4.15pm - Emeritus Professor Nazmi Oruc (Environmental Protection Association, Eskişehir-Turkey)
Arsenic Levels in Drinking Waters of Emet-Kütahya – Turkey and its Relation to Arsenic Bearing Minerals in Borate Deposits.
Venue: Room R5 Emmanuel College

The largest colemanite reserves occur around the Emet Town which is located in the midwest of the Anatolia. Two natural spring water sources (Malı 1 and Malı 2) were supplied to the town (population of 20 000) about 18 years ago.

Source Sample size Min. Max. Med. MCL
Malı 1. (n=8) 150 634 448 50(1984)
Malı 2. (n=9) 48 633 384 10(1997)

Arsenic Levels (microgram/L)

The above results indicated that these two natural water sources contained much higher levels of arsenic than MCL set in Turkey. In 1997 the MCL was lowered to 10 microgram/L, from the 50 microgram/L, standard established in 1984. Hence, use of these waters was prohibited on Oct. 2001. It was reported in the literature that geochemical examinations of the Emet borate deposits contained As and S bearing minerals such as: realgar (AsS) and orpiment (As2S3) as scattered nodules in the colemanite formations. Consequently high levels of As in the natural waters were considered to be associated with the dissolution of these minerals occurring in the Emet water catchment area.

# Thursday 30th November 2006, 4.15pm - Professor David Newman (Dept of Politics and Government, Ben Gurion University, Israel and Visiting Leverhulme Professor, University of Bristol 2006-2007)
Demarcating Boundaries. Geopolitical, Legal and Ethical Considerations in the Construction of an Israeli-Palestinian Border
Venue: Seminar Room, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Most of the world’s territorial boundaries have long been determined as the delimitors of State sovereignty. Few ethno-territorial conflicts of the contemporary era are focused around positional and legal disputes over the location of land borders. While the “borderless world” thesis is not relevant to large parts of the world, one cannot escape the fact that borders have become (at least until the events of 9/11) easier to cross and, in some cases (such as in Western Europe) have opened up altogether.

Only two of Israel’s land borders, with Egypt and Jordan, are recognised as constituting internationally recognized boundaries. The borders with Syria, Lebanon and a future Palestinian State have yet to be determined through future bilateral agreements which will be acceptable to both sides and will be sanctioned by the international community. The ultimate demarcation and delimitation of these borders will have major implications, not only for the physical security and sovereignty of the respective countries, but also for the verify nature of the State and the way in which its national ethos and identity is determined.

This is particularly the case regarding the Israel – Palestine border. The Green Line, separating Israel from the West Bank since 1948, has only ever had the status of an armistice line, although some commentators would argue that the de facto recognition of this line by the international community, affords it with legally binding status. An alternative line, the course of the Separation Barrier which has been constructed by successive Israeli governments during the past four years, is problematic from a legal and ethical standpoint. In the first instance it has been unilaterally superimposed upon the landscape by the Israeli government, with no consultation with the Palestinian Authority. Moreover, it has resulted in the de facto annexation of West Bank land to the Israeli side of the boundary, including areas which contain Israeli settlements. Ultimate demarcation of an Israeli-Palestinian boundary must be undertaken on a bilateral basis resulting in an agreement between the two sides, and must take into account a myriad of security, demographic, economic and landuse factors, including the possible exchange of land between the two sides, if the final border is to deviate from the course of the Green Line.

# Thursday 16th November 2006, 4.15pm - Dr Nick Baron (School of History, University of Nottingham)
"Miracles" on a Geographical Map': Geodetic Utopias and Cartographic Realism in the Soviet Union, 1920-1938
Venue: Seminar Room, Department of Geography, Downing Site

After 1917, the new Soviet leadership attributed an unprecedented importance to space as a factor which could make or break the new post-revolutionary state, and correspondingly to the role of spatial knowledge, planning and representation in the project of constructing socialism within Russia and, ultimately, across the borderless expanse of a single global polity. Firstly, the Bolshevik regime understood the power of cartography to affirm and propagate the ‘world-view’ and corresponding spatial visions in which it grounded its claims to legitimacy. Maps were to serve propaganda purposes: Walter Benjamin visiting Moscow in the winter of 1926 remarked that “the map is almost as close to becoming the centre of the new Russian iconic cult as Lenin’s portrait”. Secondly, the party and government leaderships recognized the crucial role that accurate spatial data played in the practical tasks of state-building and economic development. Maps were also to serve utilitarian purposes. As a consequence of its dual function, Soviet cartography bifurcated into two spheres: one concerned with spatial ‘myth-making’, the other with constructing a ‘scientific’ account of space. This paper explores the tensions which this duality produced within Soviet cartographic policy-making and practice during the 1920s and 1930s, and its fatal consequences for the civilian cartographic establishment during the 1937-38 ‘Great Terror’.

# Thursday 2nd November 2006, 4.15pm - Dr Elana Wilson (Norwegian Institute of International Affairs)
Strategies of Similarity and the Movement of Governance Knowledge: Region-Building, Indigenous Identity and International Development in the Circumpolar North
Venue: Seminar Room, Department of Geography, Downing Site

A common myth about globalization is that ideas and knowledge, like money, can now circulate freely. This is not always the case. Knowledge and ideas are embedded in particular places and societies and do not lend themselves straightforwardly to export. In this presentation, I examine how governance knowledge was moved across cultural and political boundaries during a development project designed to promote Canadian-style natural resource management and economic development models in the Russian North. This project, one of many cooperative endeavors involving Arctic indigenous peoples and governments, was based in the belief that relevant knowledge should be shared across the state boundaries that transect the Circumpolar North. In order to legitimate the transfer of knowledge from the Canadian North to the Russian one and to overcome historical, cultural, and political differences between Canada and Russia, the Canadian development team relied upon ‘strategies of similarity,’ namely assumptions about 1) a common Arctic space and 2) a shared Arctic indigenous identity. Drawing upon over thirty qualitative interviews and my participation in the project itself, I demonstrate how and why rhetoric about Arctic region building and discourses of indigenous unity, which often resonate well in the realm of international politics, did not serve as unproblematic mechanisms for knowledge transfer on a level closer to home. The limited reach and efficacy of these strategies of sameness indicate that the movement of knowledge cannot rely upon the real or imagined imposition of commensurability between peoples and places.

# Thursday 19th October 2006, 4.15pm - Mrs Nicky Padfield, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge
Protecting the Environment: Criminal Law and the European Union
Venue: Seminar Room, Department of Geography, Downing Site

This seminar explores the role of the criminal law in protecting the environment. Practical examples will be used to explore substantive, procedural and sentencing challenges created by domestic legislation. The seminar will then move on to explore the role of the European Union, raising in particular the constitutional issues raised by the important case decided last year, Commission of the European Communities v Council of the European Union (Case C-176/03), 13 September 2005, in which the European Court of Justice annulled Council Framework Decision 2003/80 on the protection of the environment through criminal law. The conclusion will emphasise the need for a principled and wide-ranging debate.

# Monday 14th February 2000, 10.01am - Professor Paul Robbins, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Title to be confirmed
Venue: Small Lecture Theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

Abstract not available