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Department of Geography


Geographies of Knowledge

Geographies of Knowledge

Research in this group studies how knowledge about the world is made, contested, authorized and used with particular regard to situated historical, cultural and political processes. The group seeks to understand and explain the spatially differentiated ways in which different knowledge claims emerge, become institutionalised and travel; and how they are then transformed, vernacularized and disputed by diverse actors and challenged by other ontologies. We are particularly interested in how different knowledges - for example lay, scientific, western, non-western - gain ascendancy and enter into policy processes, especially in relation to topics such as (currently) poverty alleviation, reducing climatic risks, resource allocation and sustainability or balancing national budgets.

We undertake this work at a variety of multiscale sites across the global North and South, embracing plural ontologies and diverse epistemic practices such as narrative, observation, modelling, elicitation and deliberation. Research in the group draws on approaches from science and technology studies, geographies of science, poststructuralism (esp. postcolonial/decolonial traditions), historical geography and critical political economy and we have expertise particularly in fields of development, climate change, polar politics, scientific advice and the politics of expertise.

Our work aims to contribute to more inclusive knowledge production, democratic decision-making and active citizenship and it engages with contemporary debates about the changing roles of expertise in the public sphere and in pedagogy.


Environmental knowledges

Environmental knowledges

Our work in this sub-theme examines the politics of environmental knowledges, with particular thematic foci on climate change, biodiversity and volcanic risks. We study how diverse expertise - for example, lay, scientific, western, non-western - is mobilised in global environmental assessments, environmental controversies, risk management protocols and advisory processes. This sub-theme lies at the interface between the human and physical geographies of environmental risk.

Arctic knowledges

Polar knowledges

Research in this sub-theme is concerned with knowledge construction in and of the polar regions, with regards to ethnographies of science, histories of geographical thought, indigenous cosmologies and ontologies, polar geopolitics, cryopolitics, and regional governance. A key interest is to problematize what is understood, framed and articulated as "the Arctic" and "the Antarctic" in public, political, and scientific discourses. Many projects in this sub-theme are associated with the Scott Polar Research Institute.

Knowledges for development

Knowledges for development

Group members in this sub-theme are interested in understanding the political, cultural, institutional and post/de-colonial geographies of (international) development knowledges and practices. This research recognises the pluralising landscape of global development politics and how different knowledges - for example, lay, scientific, western, non-western - gain authority in this landscape. Main areas of research include the (re-)emergence of South-South cooperation, transition of the so-called 'traditional' donors, financialisation and private sector-led development, and the role of civil society.

Group members

Dr Michael Bravo Indigenous ontologies, geographies of mobility, cultures of navigation; Narratives of the Arctic
Dr Johanne Bruun
Political and historical geographer with a particular interest in geographies of science, material politics, the geo-politics of territory, technologies and practices of fieldwork, and Arctic histories of science.
Dr Alexander Cullen Research description to follow.
Dr Amy Donovan Cultures of risk; science, knowledges and politics in hazardous environments; dynamics of transborder risk
Dr António Ferraz de Oliveira Research description to follow.
Professor Mike Hulme
Cultures of climate — knowledges, representations and politics
Dr Nanna Kaalund Nanna Kaalund is trained in science and technology studies, with a research specialism in the history of science. Her research focuses on Arctic explorations in the British, North American and Danish worlds, nineteenth-century material and print cultures, and the intersection of science and religion.
Dr Peter Martin Historical geographer interested in critical histories of Arctic exploration, histories of science, postcolonial studies and intellectual history.
Dr Emma Mawdsley Global development politics; South-South Cooperation; India
Professor Clive Oppenheimer Volcanic risk management and the human ecology of volcanic regions.
Professor Susan Owens Environmental governance: policy processes; knowledge and policy learning; environmental planning
Dr Richard Powell Cultural and political geographies of science and knowledges; Circumpolar Arctic
Dr Samantha Saville Environmental and cultural geographer interested in human-nature relations, polar geographies, knowledge production and value.
Professor Tom Spencer Hydrodynamics, sediment dynamics, ecological processes and human interactions in coastal ecosystems
Dr John Woitkowitz History of scientific networks and knowledge communities, representational practices, and the construction of Arctic imaginaries
Dr Corine Wood-Donnelly Maritime law and governance of the Arctic

Graduate students

The following graduate students are also associated with the group:

Henry Anderson-Elliott To re-frame the conservation of polar bears in Svalbard, looking at the socio-cultural norms and values that structure the human relationships with the species
Katarzyna Baran International Development Cooperation from below: recipients' perceptions of development cooperation in Haiti
Simon Billett UK soft power in India
David Durand-Delacre The making of the 'climate migrant': an analysis of a circulating label in France and the Sahel
Maximillian Hepach
Under the weather: towards a phenomenological genealogy of weather and climate
Sarah Hughes Development finance: private finance and innovative financing models in a ‘beyond aid’ era
Stephen Lezak The new ‘Last Frontier’: Extraction and Adaptation in Rural Alaska
Alice Oates Instruments of scientific governance? Historical geographies of Halley Bay, 1956-present
Noam Obermeister Misaligned or mismanaged? Exploring the role of expectations and tacit negotiations in expert advice - the case of environmental science-policy in the UK
Udisha Saklani Dams, Development and Diplomacy: Deconstructing Indian dam-building in the Himalayas
Morgan Seag Equal Opportunities on Ice: Gendered institutional change in 20th century Antarctic science
Laura Trajber Waisbich Negotiating Accountability in South-South Cooperation for Development