I am running a panel at this week’s Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers Annual Conference in London on the topic of digital democracy. I’m really exciting about this double session panel for a number of reasons, not least because I’ve long been curious to hear other geographer’s perspectives on this contested object of digital democracy, and because of the range of different cases, topics, domains and framings being used across these 8 presentations. See full details of the sessions below:
At the end of September I had a new paper published in the journal Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, based on my PhD research on organisational learning in the UK Government’s public dialogue body Sciencewise. I was particularly proud to see this little labour of love come out as it tries to give people an insight into my ethnographic work in an around Sciencewise’s public dialogue exercises on science policy. This is, as far as I am aware, the first extended ethnography of an organisation of participation which has been carried out. I also got to play around a bit with theories of space and learning, which I think was productive.
The paper is available to read open access here.
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.
- Decolonising the collective: towards new visions of representation – Doerthe Rosenow (Oxford Brookes University, UK)
- The challenges of the ‘post-liberal’ turn in the Plurinational State of Bolivia – Anna Laing (University of Sussex, UK)
- Towards decentred and emergent governance for ‘community resilience’: The view from post-war Sri Lanka – Martin Mulligan (RMIT University, Australia)
- The right to the knowledge: urban movements and decolonisation of the spatial planning process – Tomasz Sowada (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland)
- 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.
We had a meeting last week to decide on the final outline for our Human Geographies of a Changing World module – the core module for first year students on our brand new Geography BA programme at UEA. I’ve found it both exciting and daunting to be involved in this process of creating introductory material for new students from scratch. On the one hand, it’s a privilege to be able to play a part in shaping UEA Geography’s emerging identity, and explore the different ways we can thread our particular concern with the environment through the full spectrum of approaches in academic Geography. On the other hand, its quite a responsibility to be charged with introducing new students to the discipline, and I’m constantly thinking about things we might have missed or that I might misrepresent in my teaching. Though, I’m assured by others that there will inevitably be a process of re-organising and re-writing after our first year of running this module.
Last week I was delighted to be offered a lectureship in the Human Geography of the Environment in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, where I have been based since I started my Master’s degree. I will formally take up the lectureship on April 1st (when I will be, appropriately, at the Association of American Geographers annual conference in San Francisco) and my main task will be contribute to and help shape the School’s new Geography BA programme which starts in September 2016. I will carry on my involvement with the UKERC energy participation project which I have been working on as a senior research associate for the last year, but my new role will also give me the opportunity develop my ideas around ‘democratic innovations’ further and put some new research proposals together. I will also be helping to run field trips and taking on other teaching and administrative responsibilities.
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.
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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From 2013 to 2014 I was a news editor for the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers’ Geography Directions blog, writing articles which linked current news items with academic papers published in the RGS’s journals including Area and Transactions of the Society of British Geographers.
Below is an archived list of my most popular posts on the Geography Directions blog on themes including citizenship, participation, openness, conservation, flooding and the internet.