Interesting post about Geography

I was reading the history of human geography today and ran into this interesting post by geography.about.com:

http://geography.about.com/od/historyofgeography/a/Geography-At-Harvard.htm

It consists of five pieces about geography, and the first one is a story about the closure of Geography Department in Harvard. (Can’t imagine a university without Geography Department!!!!!)

Among those five pieces, Human Geography and An Overview of Cultural Geography are very interesting as well.

Can’t help sharing when I came across something interesting!

 

Advertisements

Souvenir Geographies — My first year PhD presentation in Landscape Surgery

This is a reflection on my first year PhD presentation in Landscape Surgery

Landscape Surgery

Shirt of London Made in Turkey, (photo by author, taken in Cool Britannia, summer 2014) Shirt of London Made in Turkey, (photo by author, taken in Cool Britannia, summer 2014)

The first_year PhD presentation day is a tradition of Landscape Surgery. I attended it last year as a audience when I was a MA student, and I am honored to be a speaker in it this year. For the LS presentation, I created a slide show to help demonstrate my PhD (available here), which can also give you a taste of my PhD.

This project looks at a widely_loved object: souvenir. Many people keep souvenirs as reminders of a person, place, or event. Souvenir is inherently geographical based on its nature. Souvenir’s mobility is its most outstanding geographical characteristic: souvenirs move from the place of tourism to the place of home; from ‘extraordinary’ place to the world of the ‘ordinary’. Although souvenirs take on many forms, functions and representations, they are often formally associated with a specific geographical place.

Studies related to souvenirs in SCG are rare. Morgan & Pritchard (2005) studied souvenir & self-identity; Hashimoto & Telfer (2007) talked about authentic geographical souvenirs in Canada; Ramsay (2009) had an impressive field work of souvenir production sites in Swaziland; while Peters (2011) studied banal souvenirs’ home placement. Souvenirs studies have potential for exploration.

My PhD project ‘Souvenir Geographies: Authenticity and Place Making’ focus on souvenirs on two way: one is to explore how souvenirs’ authenticity and meaning change along with places; secondly it looks at how souvenirs shape places in the terms of place making. This process is revealed by following souvenirs in a linear route: from the making sites, tourist sites, transport sites (AKA non_places: airports, train stations; Augé, 1994) and then to the tourists’ homes. In this quadruple layer process, souvenir’s spatiotemporal peculiarity makes it a great object to follow, and to analysis from a geographical perspective. Putting my Cultural Geographer’s hat on, I analysis souvenirs based on their spatial movements.

In the terms of methodology, ‘following the thing’ and visual ethnography are the most basic and key methods used through out the whole project. Apart from these, semi_structured interviews, using postcards as a method, participant observation, keeping fieldwork diary: text, image and video, and blogging as a method (project blog) are also used in this project. When it comes to field work, two fields are considered for this project. The first one is UK, and the other is China. In each case, equal factories, tourist sites, transporting sites and homes will be visited and same number of postcards will be handed out.

Souvenirs studying is an innovative and novel topic area in Cultural Geography, which promises to contribute to discussions in a range of geographical topics: material culture, place and, in particular, tourism studies.

Zhuyun (Amy) Zang, PhD Candidate

View original post

A Reflection on RGS-IBG PGF Mid-Term Conference

First Day

2014 RGS-IBG PGF Mid-Term Conference is held in Loughborough University on 14-15 April. This is my first time in Loughborough which is a lovely little town.  Loughborough is similar to Egham. Both of them university town, which have big university area and small commercial town centre.

This two-day conference has around 80 presenters.

A family photo of all the presenters

A family photo of all the presenters

We started with  Hilary’s warm up session,  in which she encourage us to keep a PhD diary (identify your motivation of doing a PhD regularly) and attend more conference to communicate with people alike, and not alike.   She mentioned a project ‘stories from the store’ in science museum interested me.

Then is the presentations. There are massive sessions to choose from, and I am amazed again by the diversity of the topics in Geography.  Some of them are focus on developing countries and some developed; some on old people and some on mobility of drunk teenagers (LOL); some on transportation and some on writing.

Hannah, Miriam, Ella, Mel, Mike and Katie had their projects presented.

Hannah presenting

Hannah presenting

 

We noticed an interesting point that in one session, two PhD students from Loughborough uni talked about ‘Studentification’, and then Mike pointed out that the person who came up with the word ‘studentification’ is actually teaching here (Professor Darren Smith). The two presenters might be his students, and his idea is proven right by chatting to new friends in Loughborough. XD

Meeting new friends in the garden

Meeting new friends in the garden

We had our conference dinner in the Ramada Hotel, which perfectly ends the first day of the conference,

dinner

dinner

 

 

Second Day

The presentation I enjoyed most is Professor John Anderson’s  ‘China and Global Change’ (on the second day).  I feel excited to look at China from a different angel. Professor John Anderson pointed out lots of problem in China, while showing his affection for the country.

All the problems he pointed out are realistic, I admit it. The central government thought we can take the same way as the western took in the 20 century, but now it realizes that the damage to environment will be too huge to fix if we have the same way of developing (economy first, and then we will fix the environment). So it is taking action now. I was in Chine during Feb 2014, and in this month, several (7 or something like that) iron and steel plants and some cement hills in suburban Beijing had been torn down, to control the producing of steel in order to control the building of new houses, and to control the usage of coal in order to pollute the environment less.

Pro John Anderson on China and Global Change

Pro John Anderson on China and Global Change

 

Although some action have been taken, I still think the problem is serious and I like the ending of Professor John Anderson’s presentation: if the Chinese continuing taking the same way as the western did, and if the West of China has the same developed level as the East of China, ‘WE ARE F**KED!’  I like how he deals with the conclusion and makes it sound more serious. The more serious the problem sounds, the worse the situation we are in, the central government will pay more attention to the environment. It was a very great presentation! And I am touched about Professor John Anderson’s feeling of China. He must love it and hate it!

I realised my shortness of  reading and dealing with geography journals, so I joined the publishing workshop, which was very helpful.

I have heard some ideas of my souvenir geographies project and found 4 participants who are will to join the research.

To sum up, there are a lot to take in from the conference and we have enjoyed it.

rhul table

rhul table

We even started writing for the Landscape Surgery blog on the train back to London. XD

writing for landscape surgery on the train back to London

writing for landscape surgery on the train back to London

 

souvenirs from the conference

souvenirs from the conference

Aside

Kew Visit

Today,  some of Cultural Geography MA students, SCG PhD students and Geography Dept Staff from Royal Holloway went to have a visit to the sites behind Kew Garden.  This visit focused on the contemporary management and uses of the historical botanical collections.  We visited the economic botany (plant artefacts), the herbarium (dried specimens) and the library and archives.

on the way to Kew

on the way to Kew

Kew is in a nice area, with beautiful neibourhood.

Herbarium collection and the original collector's portrait

Herbarium collection and the original collector’s portrait

In the old area of Kew’s herbarium collection, the building was built in the 19 century, and it is arranged like this to absorb more light and avoid use fire for lighting, to protect the collection from fire.

how the newer collection is arranged

how the newer collection is arranged: coloured dots

In Kew’s newer part of the herbarium collection, they use matching colour to show the specimens’ original location, making it easier and faster to find them.

The very spicemen collected by Darwin himself

The very spicemen collected by Darwin himself

Wax flowers and Felix taking photo of them

Wax flowers and Felix taking photo of them

the Wardian case

the Wardian case

The upper picture is a postcard from Kew.  The Postcard shows Harry Ruck, Kew’s packer and later storekeeper from 1912  to 1959, packing a Wardian case in the early 1950s. Wardian cases were used between the 1840s and 1960s to transport plants around the world. The rest two are photos of the Wardiam case from the economic botany collection.

Three steps of producing cotton

Three steps of producing cotton

Beautiful paintings from Kew

Beautiful paintings from Kew

Photos by author.