Details: RGS-IBG AC2015 Postgraduate Snapshots Session – Provocations and Possibilities ‘in’ and ‘of’ the Anthropocene

Friday 4th September 2015 14:40 – 16:20.
Peter Chalk – Room 1.6, University of Exeter.
(Session Number 269 in Conference Programme).

Conveners:  SCGRG Postgraduate Reps 2014-2015.
(Katie Ledingham, University of Exeter; Suzanne Hocknell, University of Exeter; Emma Spence, Cardiff University).

Sponsors: Social and Cultural Geography Research Group & Postgraduate Forum

This session will explore the different ways in which postgraduate researchers in Social and Cultural Geography are both engaging with and attending to the manifold provocations posed by the concept of the Anthropocene. Postgraduates will present a brief ‘snapshot’ of their work (whether a photograph, a quotation, a field diary entry, an image of an object, or mini-video clip) as a focus for contributions that explore the ways in which their theoretical and/or methodological interventions are acting to work with and against the rise of the Anthropocene. We encourage participants to fully utilise their snapshots in ways which further deepen and enrich the developing trajectories, tensions, and textures associated with the mobilisation of this concept.

Chairs: Suzanne Hocknell (University of Exeter) & Emma Spence (Cardiff University)

Presenters:  Luc Tripet (Universite de Neuchatel); Yannick Rousselot (Universitie de Geneve); Amita Bhakta (Loughborough University); Anna Pigott (Swansea University); Leigh Martindale (Lancaster University); Natalia Stutter (Cardiff University); Jacob Barber (University of Edinburgh).

Discussant:  Emma Spence (Cardiff University)

Consistency vs Constancy: a Manifesto against Striating Ontologies in the Anthropocene
Luc Tripet (Universite de Neuchatel, Switzerland)
Yannick Rousselot (Universite de Geneve, Switzerland)
Striating ontologies overcode any socio-ecological becoming, reducing it to reified and alienating structures, hence producing a regulated, striated space. We argue that it is notably through these ontologies that the rhizomatic entanglements of human and nonhuman is deterritorialized and reterritorialized into a dual stratification: Nature as resources, society as a value-producing structure. This relative movement is based upon a totalizing principle – an absolute -, the capitalism in its process of capture of the earth. Therefore, striating ontologies raise an essential issue. One does not explain anything with constant ontologies but has to acknowledge the immanence and contingency of existence in order to grasp more than reifying abstractions. For the real is never constant, one has to encounter the becomings that give consistency to our world. In the case of the Anthropocene, a pretence of constancy such as the productivist and anthropocentrist stratification annihilates the becoming-entanglements of the human and the nonhuman. More precisely, this performed blindness to our rhizomatic relation to the earth sustains the strange ideal of constant progress and perpetual growth in a finite world, from which the environmental crisis proceeds. We conclude arguing that ontologies have to embrace consistency; be(com)ing nomad ontologies, to dispense with constancy.

Accommodating disability in sustainable living: embodied tensions of access in eco-communities
Amita Bhakta (Loughborough University, UK)
In an era in which adaptation and mitigation to anthropogenic climate change has become of increasing importance, grassroots eco-communities continue to emerge as a response to combating an array of environmental challenges we face. However, with a continually ageing population, meeting our changing and embodied needs mediated through dis/ability remains to be an issue which merits further attention, particularly in the context of sustainable living. Drawing on a snapshot of field reflections of embodied experiences from the perspective of Cerebral Palsy, this paper discusses the tensions between accessibility for dis/abled people and the practices tied into sustainable living within an eco-community context. Attempts to reduce environmental impact have, in practice, provoked both physical and social exclusion for dis/abled people. Greater attention to understanding bodily difference and the body itself in finding solutions to environmental challenges is needed, through going beyond policy and towards an increased dialogue with the less able.

Imagining Anthropocene futures: glimpses from Wales
Anna Pigott (Swansea University, UK)
This research explores how the future is being imagined, envisioned and hoped for in Wales in the context of the ‘Anthropocene’. Increasingly, imaginations of the future are seen as influential to social change because they are a vital part of how possible futures are pre-experienced and set in motion (Yusoff and Gabrys, 2011), and yet it is also suggested (e.g. Harvey, 2000) that contemporary societies have experienced a decline in the hope and utopianism that once motivated social change. Wales provides an important context for this research as its Government is pioneering a cutting-edge approach to sustainability and the well-being of future generations (One Wales: One Planet, 2009). The research draws on ethnographic engagements with a range of case studies that shed light on diverse imaginaries of the future, and explores their significance in relation to both national and global narratives about the Anthropocene.

Understanding humans in the Anthropocene: Finding answers in Geoengineering and Transition Towns
Leigh Martindale (Lancaster University, UK)
Despite ‘knowing’ about and understanding that human society is the major reason for global environmental change, the evidence to date suggests we haven’t acted in accordance to this knowledge. Indeed, ‘business-as-usual’ is arguably the predominant reaction to issues of climate change and the idea of the Anthropocene. This presentation will therefore suggest how environmental discourse can be transformed – in order to become emancipatory – during the era of the Anthropocene. Using the idea of material or ‘geological politics’ (Clark, 2013; 2014) in the context of local geoengineering strategies and Transition Towns, I hope to show that the question is not ‘what is to be done’ but rather: ‘what is being done and how can we help move this forward’ (Gibson-Graham, 2009).

An Unusual Sight in Hanoi
Natalia Stutter (Cardiff University, UK)
A group of itinerant bicycle vendors in Hanoi gather at the side of the street – resting, chatting and laughing with one another. They stand at ease with their bikes parked; they are comfortable and pay little attention to passers-by. The conical hats symbolise that these women are from the countryside. Economic reformation in Vietnam and rapid urbanisation – key contributors to the development of the Anthropocene – have had adverse effects on the amount of land available for traditional agricultural practices. As a result rural families, whose members often have little formal education or skills, are forced to find alternative forms of income. Selling food in the city is one of the few options available, however the presence of mobile vendors in Hanoi is fraught with challenges. As the city continues to develop and modernise the vendors are becoming increasingly marginalised as we move further into the Anthropocene.

Psychohistory and “the Anthropocene”
Jacob Barber (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
I want to suggest that at one end of a spectrum ‘the Anthropocene’ narrative is one of hyper modernization by numbers. A project that imagines the entirety of human behaviour in the singular Anthropos, and, like the fictional psychohistory of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation universe, casts an impersonal eye into the future to make decisions about and for all of us. This is a world of hazily imagined planetary sovereignty that I fear only exacerbates the problems that prompted Crutzen and Stoermer to coin the term Anthropocene’ in the first place. At the other end of this spectrum, however, the Anthropocene appears as doing too much, trying to explain too many things under an umbrella-term that disguises a vast heterogeneity below. If this is the case, if ‘the Anthropocene’ really is doing too much and trying to explain everything, then I question the applicability of that term to anything.


Top 7 Presentation Tips for Your First International Conference

By Emma Spence

It can be incredibly daunting to present at your first international conference, but it needn’t be. There are innumerable resources readily available to help you construct the perfect presentation- from what to put on your PowerPoint slides to how to prepare for questions. This post addresses a few practical considerations for conference newbies.

1) Know your environment

Visit the room that you are due to present in as soon as you can when you arrive at the conference. This way you will be familiar with the room layout and can better visualize your presentation during your final practice run. Also, knowing how the room is laid out, where you’ll stand, and whether or not for example there is a lectern or whether you would have to hold notes etc will ease your anxiety on the day of your presentation.

2) Learn from others

If possible go and see other presentations before your own so that you know what to expect. How did others present? Did they sit and read, stand and point, or pace up and down? What worked? What was off-putting? Should you change your technique? How do your PowerPoint slides compare in terms of clarity and function as a visual aid? Seeing first-hand how others present will help you improve your own presentation style.

3) Know what to expect

Arrive to your session early and with plenty of time to load your PowerPoint on to the PC. Double check the running order with the session conveners. Will the Chair use prompt sheets to ensure timely presentations? Will questions follow each presentation or will they come at the end of the session? Knowing what to expect will help ease tension in the build-up to delivering your presentation.

4) Do what feels comfortable

We all want to be able to deliver impeccable note-free enthusiastic and inspiring Ted-like lectures of our research. In reality, especially in the earlier stages of our academic careers, we’re a little shakier. So when deciding whether to present with or without notes- do what feels comfortable- whether that is reading from your notes, or going freestyle. As long as you are well prepared and can deliver your material confidently and with some enthusiasm, the audience will forgive any over-reliance on notes.

5) Enjoy it!

The audience is there because they want to hear about your work, so reward them with an enthusiastic, engaging, and enjoyable presentation. The more you enjoy it, the better the reception from the audience will be.

6) Don’t rush off

As tempting as it may be to dart to the nearest pub as soon as you’ve been clapped back to your seat, don’t rush off right away. Take your time leaving and speak with people in the audience. Chances are they’ll have some helpful suggestions and/or some nice things to say about your presentation that were not covered in the Q&A- so go seek them out.

7) Rookie mistake

And finally, when you’re done DON’T FORGET TO COLLECT YOUR USB STICK!!

Got any more tips? What do you wish you knew before you presented at your first international conference? Share your experiences…

‘How Critical is Research Impact?’ Graduate Conference for New and Emerging Human Geographers

Thursday December 10th & Friday December 11th, 2015 

School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, East Quadrangle, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ


In a very short space of time, impact has become an inescapable feature of research culture in UK higher education. Impact attainment is now a benchmark that all universities are expected to meet, and so is part-and-parcel of institutional strategizing at all levels, from senior management committees, to school or department working groups. Identifying a pathway to impact is a required element in any grant application submitted to UK research councils, and features as a standard element in PhD research project design and delivery. The status that impact will hold in the REF2020 exercise is already an academic preoccupation.

 So, like it or not (and many in the profession remain equivocal at best), the impact agenda seems here to stay!

 This two-day PGR conference, hosted by the Human Geography Research Group and School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, offers a dedicated forum for consideration of questions that are crucial to an emerging, aspiring generation of graduate researchers:

– What does the production of impactful research mean for a current generation of UK graduate students in human geography?

– How is impact to be variously understood, appreciated, approached and subject to critique?

– How does the prefiguring of impact affect PhD research design and project direction?

– What place exists for disciplinary traditions of critical and creative praxis in an evolving impact agenda?

– Is intellectual integrity a victim of “impact-instrumentalism”, or, is impact the trigger necessary to ensure that research makes a real difference beyond the academy?

– Can the future shape of impact actually be defined by new and emerging researchers, rather than simply becoming another expectation that they must meet?

– Are adaptive strategies or radical responses necessary to prise open (even to ‘Occupy’) impact?

The conference programme will comprise a series of case study-led commentaries based on recent/ongoing “impact experiences”. Commentaries will be intercut with dedicated workshops sessions for small-group conversation and experience sharing, and a panel session leading into an open debate.

Commentators and panelists include: Kye Askins, Deborah Dixon, Caleb Johnston, Hayden Lorimer, Hester Parr, Chris Philo and Jo Sharp.

Conference contributors will have differing levels of research experience (academic staff; ESRC ‘Future Research Leader’; recently completed and current PhD), and in projects involving international and national collaborations, and interdisciplinary links with the biological sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities. Presentations will combine critical reflection with practical guidance, exploring the tensions that exist between impact ideals and impact realities.

Student-led breakout workshops will offer advice and seek opinion on partnership building, evidence gathering, narrating and communicating impact, the use of impact to advance careers (in academia and beyond), and existing mechanisms/media available to offer individual opinions and collective responses to the emerging impact agenda.

Conference Registration:

The conference is free to attend for any student registered for PhD studies in Human Geography at a UK university. The event will begin at 1:30pm on Thursday 10th December and end on Friday 11th December 2015 at 1pm.

Pre-registration is required. Please note: conference capacity is capped at 80 students. Delegates can register direct at our EventBrite site at:

Any conference queries should be addressed to: Jean.McPartland [at]


Bate, J. (ed.) (2011) The public value of the humanities (Bloomsbury, London). 

Driver, F. (2014) ‘Historical geography at large: towards public historical geographies’, Journal of Historical Geography, 46 (3), 92.   

Pain, R., Kesby, M., & Askins, K. (2011). Geographies of impact: power, participation and potential. Area, 43(2), 183-188.

Phillips, R. (2010). The impact agenda and geographies of curiosity. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 35(4), 447-452. 

Rogers, A., Bear, C., Hunt, M., Mills, S., & Sandover, R. (2014). Intervention: the impact agenda and human geography in UK higher education.  ACME.

Slater, T. (2012). Impacted geographers: a response to Pain, Kesby and Askins. Area, 44(1), 117-119.

Food Matters Symposium: A RGS-IBG AC2015 Pre-Conference Event

If you are booked as a participant in this event but have not yet confirmed any transport needs to / from West Town Farm but would like to be included please get in touch with both Suzanne & Rebecca A.S.A.P.  Please also get in touch if you would like your profile and contact details to be included in the programme but have not yet forwarded details.

Remember West Town is a working farm please wear appropriate clothing and footwear.

Confirmed Pick-Ups:
St David’s Station:  Jeremy Brice, Ana Moragues Faus, Matt Reed, Agatha Herman, Alice Willatt, Laura Colebroke, Emma Roe, Lou Dudley, Henry Buller, Kim Ward.

Streatham Campus:  Rebecca Jones, Mags Adams, Alexandra Sexton, Eifiona Thomas Lane, Megan Blake, Andrew Williams, Charlotte Spring.

Tuesday 1st September – West Town Farm, Exeter.

Although food waste is beginning to appear on academic and political agendas there has been a tendency to frame the problem around individual food practices, and much less work has been done on how food becomes framed as waste at other nodes within food systems. Through employing a mixture of panel sessions, provocations, hands on sessions and group work, this symposium will bring together academics, food producers, food retailers and food activists in order to approach the problem of systemic food waste. We hope this symposium will enable a collaborative process of agenda setting for future research into food waste, food knowledges and food practices.

Conveners: Suzanne Hocknell & Dr Rebecca Sandover.

Opening Remarks & Provocations:  Prof. Henry Buller (University of Exeter).

Dr. Megan Blake (University of Sheffield); Dr. Emma Roe (University of Southampton); Dr. Matt Reed (The Countryside and Community Research Institute); Andy Bragg (West Town Farm); Martyn Bragg (Shillingford Organics); and Kim Chenoweth (Devon and Cornwall Food Association).

Group Facilitators:
Dr Emma-Jayne Abbots (UWTSD); Dr Mags Adams (University of Salford); and Dr Agatha Herman (University of Reading).

Closing Remarks:  Prof. Elspeth Probyn (University of Sydney).

Food matters are increasingly contested as lively materials that shape issues around human health and wellbeing as well as impacting on ecosystems through their production, consumption and disposal. Food materials decay rendering food inedible. Food material can be seen as unknown, unfamiliar and undesirable for consumption. Food matters can contain anxieties over provenance, authenticity and wider material impacts on our ecosystems and our bodies. However solutions to knowing food, addressing food waste and increasing access to fresh food are contested. Examples of this include the use of waste food to address issues of food poverty, processing technologies precluding edible food from reaching the consumer, or food labelling inhibiting edible food from being consumed. Through this participatory event we seek to explore these issues by not only generating debate for academic research, but by also getting our hands on food matters, and engaging with local producers’ food stories and food knowledges. By incorporating practical hands- on sessions to produce our lunch with ‘waste’ food and hearing on-the-ground experiences of producers and activists, we seek to ground academic debate on production- consumption-waste pathways with the matter of food itself, and to co-create knowledges for ongoing research collaboration.

Dinner will be hosted by Bristol Skipchen on West Town Farm from 5.30pm.  Transport will be available from the farm to the RGS opening plenary, St David’s Station, or to the Rusty Bike pub.

More Info and Event Booking Here(Limited places available).

Organised  in collaboration with:
Love Local Food, West Town Farm, OrganicARTS, Ashclyst Farm & Dairy, Shillingford OrganicsWith support from the Nature, Materialities & Biopolitics (NaMBio) research group of the Department of Geography in the University of Exeter, the Social & Cultural Geography Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers (SCGRG RGS-IBG), the South-West Doctoral Centre of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC SWDTC), and the Catalyst Project at the University of Exeter. 

N.B. this symposium is supported by the ESRC SWDTC, and we have 3 funded places for student note-takers.  The note-takers will work with group facilitators in order to produce a detailed record of the day’s discussions that can feed in to future research design.  In addition, their delegate fee will be waived and we can offer £50 each in expenses.  If you are a PhD Researcher interested in being actively involved in the symposium in this way, then please contact Suzanne Hocknell <sh422 [at]> and Dr Rebecca Sandover <R.J.Sandover [at]> for more information.  

(Although it can be booked independently, this symposium is also a pre-event of the RGS-IBG annual conference.  Information about the RGS-IBG annual conference can be found here.  Linked sessions within the conference include: ‘Surfaces of Distinction:  Materiality & viscerally knowing food’ one, two & three;  ‘Thinking through Food Justice & Sovereignty’; ‘Geographical Perspectives on Food in the Anthropocene’ one, two & three; & ‘Exploring the Role of Transformative Research in Struggles for Food Sovereignty‘).


Suzanne Hocknell is a third year ESRC funded PhD Candidate at the University of Exeter supervised by Dr Ian Cook and Professor Steve Hinchliffe.  Her research focuses on knowledges and practices of food.  More specifically her PhD work investigates how margarine is done in industry, and in the home; as well as engaging craft methodologies to create space for exploring other ways of knowing and practicing margarine.

Dr Rebecca Sandover is an Associate Research Fellow working on The Contagion project at The University of Exeter, led by Prof. S Hinchliffe. Her PhD research investigated how material and visceral relationships when growing and cooking food shapes food knowledge and consumption habits. This research was conducted at two allotment sites in South Somerset.

Surviving Academia: Seminar for Early Career & PhD Students, London

On Wednesday 17th June 2015, 2-4pm, Borough Road Building, BR-310 South Bank University the Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research will be hosting a seminar to discuss the experiences, challenges and opportunities faced by early career researchers trying to get ahead in academia. The session will focus on the time pressures and multiple expectations of PhD students to reach employable status, as well as the anxieties generated by short, fixed term temporary research contracts immediately post-PhD.  Weeks Centre final year PhD student Jaya Gajparia and Early Career academic Emily Falconer discuss their views, with a particular focus on how wider pressures on Early Career academics can deeply shape (ethical) encounters during fieldwork.

Whilst this seminar is free and open to all, we especially welcome PhD students and Early Career Researchers. There will be opportunities for open discussion and potential survival tips!

Book Here
More Info Here

Jaya Gajparia (Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research) The Guilty Encounters when ‘Capitalising on Rapport’

Dr Emily Falconer (Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research) Moments of Collusion? The trials and tribulations of the early career, fixed term contract RA (in the field)

White Rose Critical Race and Ethnicities Annual Conference

Friday 19th June 2015, HRI & ICOSS, The University of Sheffield

We are pleased to announce that the White Rose Critical Race and Ethnicities Network annual conference is now open for registration. The conference brings together a range of exciting presenters and delegates, as well as keynote talks from Professor Ann Phoenix and Dr. Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman, and a special performance by renowned poet Anthony Anaxagorou.

We invite all researchers and activists who work or are interested in the broad field of critical race and ethnicities to attend this one day conference. The aim of the conference is to establish connections between postgraduate students and researchers whose work incorporate methodological and theoretical principles of critical race and ethnicities scholarship and activism.

To register for the conference please click here.

For more details about the venues and for accessibility information, please visit our website.

Please email any questions to the steering committee at <>

Thank you,

Remi, Azeezat, Muna, Katie and Beth.

CREN steering committee