Tag Archives: democracy

Decolonising geographies of democracy and participation: RGS conference panel


I’m starting to get excited for the Royal Geographical Society’s annual conference in two weeks’ time. In particular I’m looking forward to some full and frank discussions about the challenges of decolonising the discipline of Geography, and to some really exciting looking keynotes – including Pat Noxolo and Juanita Sundberg. I’m also looking forward to taking part in a panel session with some of my academic heroes to remember the late great Professor Sally Eden and to discuss her recently published book Environmental Publics.

The main event of the conference for me is the panel session I’m organising on ‘Decolonising geographies of democracy and participation’ which is an area I am currently getting really interested in. I wrote some more about the rationale and scope for the panel in a previous post, but now the programme is up I can also share with you the excellent line-up of papers and authors I have been able to assemble. You can read the full panel rationale and abstracts in the programme here.

  1. Decolonising the collective: towards new visions of representation – Doerthe Rosenow (Oxford Brookes University, UK)
  2. The challenges of the ‘post-liberal’ turn in the Plurinational State of Bolivia – Anna Laing (University of Sussex, UK)
  3. Towards decentred and emergent governance for ‘community resilience’: The view from post-war Sri Lanka – Martin Mulligan (RMIT University, Australia)
  4. The right to the knowledge: urban movements and decolonisation of the spatial planning process – Tomasz Sowada (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland)
  5. Migrant women and participatory social research: decolonising geographies of participation – Tracey Reynolds (University of Greenwich, UK)(presenter); Umut Erel (Open University, UK); Eren Kaptani (Open University, UK); Maggie O’Neill (University of York, UK)

If this is a topic you are interested in and/or something which intersects with your work, please do come along to the panel on Wednesday 30th August, 14.40-15.20 in the Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Lecture Theatre G34. I’m keen to get some broader conversations going on this, so there will be opportunities for you to make your voice heard on this important topic.

Beyond experiments in climate governance workshop

There are some very interesting reflections here from Paula Kivimaa, Bruno Turnheim and Frans Berkhout on the ‘Beyond experiments: understanding how climate governance innovations become embedded’ INOGOV workshop which I attended at Sussex University at the end of April.

INOGOV_logo_orange_bars_boxed_white-e1433317708607The workshop was particularly enjoyable because of the excellent group of people that Paula, Bruno and Frans had assembled to contribute to the book, and it was great to get to know several people whose work has been quite influential for me, as well as being introduced to the work of others who I hadn’t been aware of. I discussed my contribution to the workshop here, which I’m now going to refine and improve based on our discussions at the workshop, and the feedback I received from the other participants. Final chapter drafts are due at the end of August, which will hopefully lead to a reasonably quick turnaround at the publisher’s end. I think there is going to be much of interest in this collection, including some contributions with the potential to greatly impact thinking on climate governance and transitions.

Book Review: Publics and Their Health Systems: Rethinking Participation by Ellen Stewart

Publics and their health systemsMy review of Ellen Stewart’s excellent new book ‘Publics and their health systems: rethinking participation’ was published on the LSE Review of Books on 11th May 2016. In the review I reflect on the broader move towards systemic accounts of public participation in the participation literature. I’m looking forward to some productive conversations on this topic with Ellen and others in future as we are trying to do a similar thing in our UK Energy Research Centre project on public participation in and around UK energy transitions.

The review can be accessed via the link below.

Book Review: Publics and Their Health Systems: Rethinking Participation by Ellen Stewart

Beyond experiments: conceptualising democratic innovations

I have had an abstract accepted to contribute to a COST action workshop in Brighton in April, on the topic ‘Beyond experiments: Understanding how climate governance innovations become embedded‘. The aim of the workshop is to develop an edited book, and I’m using my chapter to develop my thinking on ‘democratic innovations’, a concept around which I hope to focus my research in future. What particularly attracted me to the workshop was the emphasis on bringing together insights from science and technology studies and governance studies which is something I have been thinking about a lot. I explain how I am hoping to do this in the abstract below, and how I think a focus on democratic innovations, rather than just public participation processes for example, can lead to new insights about climate governance.


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Uneven geographies of openness and information

Here’s a post I wrote on the Geo open access: Geography and Environment blog a few weeks ago responding to a paper in the journal by Mark Graham, Stefano De Sabbata and Matthew A. Zook on information geographies.

I’m becoming increasingly interested in debates about open data and open access as a useful extension of and comparison with my work on public participation procedures, and this paper offered some insights relevant to this debate which I wanted to tease out.

Geo: Geography and Environment

By Helen Pallett (University of East Anglia, UK)

Open access to information and data appears to be a cause which has found its moment, with governments, businesses, NGOs and academics queuing up to ratify open access commitments and extoll its virtues. It has variously been heralded as a means of rejuvenating democracy, reforming corrupt institutions, holding big business and business-dealings to account, improving the quality of scientific data available, removing academics from their ivory towers, and changing relationships between publishers, academic journals and authors.

These arguments for the opening up of data and information now seem uncontroversial and have few serious detractors. However, an emerging body of work demonstrates that to take the geographies of information seriously is to add a significant but often-overlooked angle on debates in academia and policy on open access and open data. This is what Mark Graham, Stefano De Sabbata and Matthew A. Zook have done…

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New paper: Public participation organizations and open policy

I have a new fully open access paper in the current issue of the journal Science Communication which can be accessed here. This is the first of three empirical papers coming out of my PhD research on organisational learning in and around the UK Government-funded body Sciencewise.

Public participation organizations

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My posts on the Topograph

From 2012-2015 I maintained a joint research blog with fellow geographer and STS scholar Martin Mahony called the Topograph. As we are now working on very different projects – he has just started a British Academy fellowship project at the University of Nottingham looking at the intersections of 20th century British colonialism and meteorological science – and developing our own profiles as early career scholars we have decided to mothball the Topograph for the time being, but leave the archive intact.

Topograph header

Below is an archived list of my most popular posts on the Topograph on topics including organisational learning, democracy, evidence-based policy, social media, the Anthropocene, the GM controversy, and experimentation.

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