Tag Archives: Area

The Target of Tall Buildings: The Shard Climb Protest

by Jen Turner

278px-The_Shard

In a 2007 Area article Igal Charney explains the politics surrounding debates over the building of structures in London.  Challenging the well-established planning practices in central London,  a handful of very tall buildings were approved in the area after 2000.  Although conservation groups had their concerns, Charney reports how these were quickly dismissed by then London Mayor Ken Livingstone in an acknowledgement of the merits associated with iconic architecture and high-profile architects.   Stressing the significance of high-quality design and iconic architecture helped to wear down deep-rooted antagonism and to channel the debate to improving the aesthetic qualities of London, a goal that enjoys wide consensus.

However, these tall buildings have come to be seen as much more than simply aesthetic additions to the skyline. In many cases, they have become sites for political protest. Last week, six Greenpeace activists were arrested after climbing to the top of London’s Shard . The women were later arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass after their ascent on Thursday 11 July in protest against Arctic oil drilling.

The women evaded security guards to begin their climb in the early morning. Finally, upon reaching the summit of skyscraper after 16 hours of climbing, two of them unfurled a blue flag with Save the Arctic written on it. They said the protest was intended to put Shell and other oil companies in the spotlight and they live streamed the stunt. As the protesters reached the summit, Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: “It is an honour to stand here at the foot of Europe’s highest building and witness this remarkable achievement by these women.

The actions of last week are emblematic of a wider discourse surrounding the significance of these sites of vertical magnitude as landscapes of power.  On August 7 1974, a young Frenchman named Philippe Petit stepped out on a wire illegally rigged between the twin towers of the World Trade Center – New York’s tallest buildings - and danced about on the tight-rope for over an hour to fulfil a long-standing desire to ‘conquer’ these tall buildings. More than this, no one can disregard the significance of the September 11 2001 attacks, which saw these buildings destroyed with terrorist motive.  Activities such as these, from the seemingly innocuous conquering of a building, to the horrific targeting of 9/11 illustrate the importance of tall buildings as aesthetic pleasures, but also landscapes of power.

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Igal Charney (2007) The politics of design: architecture, tall buildings and the skyline of central London Area 39 2 195-205.

“Geography is a Great Adventure”

By Catherine Waite

December 2012a AntarcticaGeography is a great adventure” is the widely quoted opinion of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)’s out-going President, Michael Palin. The discipline has long been associated with exploration and expeditions have taken place for hundreds of years in the pursuit of new geographical and scientific knowledge. This association is just as relevant now as it was, for example, in the late 15th Century when Christopher Columbus first sailed to the Americas. December 6th 2012 saw the start of what has been described as “The Last Great Polar Challenge”, an expedition by Sir Ranulph Fiennes and a team of five other explorers who hope to cross Antarctica, a journey of 2,000miles, during the Antarctic winter.

This trip is not simply an adventure and a chance to conquer this polar challenge. The team are also running a major fundraising initiative for the ‘Seeing is Believing’ charity who help fight avoidable blindness across the world. However, perhaps the most important aspect of this event is its scientific potential. As soon as the expedition’s ship left from London’s Tower Bridge bound for Antarctica, data gathering commenced. In the course of the journey the team hope to collect data on oceanography, meteorology and marine biology. On arrival in Antarctica the extreme conditions will test the existing knowledge and scientific expertise that was required to prepare the equipment for this expedition, as the team will experience temperatures as low as -90oC and most of the trek will take place in complete darkness. Yet, the trip also provides a unique opportunity to collect data from locations previously inaccessible to humans and it is hoped the data set will include information on the true surface-shape of the ice sheet, the composition of the snow and ice, atmospheric dynamics over the ice and any bacterial life that exists at the heart of Antarctica.

It is clear that this is very much an adventure, yet one that is accompanied by the opportunity for ground-breaking research. This relationship between expeditions, exploration, science and education is one that has been recently discussed in Couper and Ansell’s (2012) paper in Area entitled “Researching the outdoors: exploring the unsettled frontier between science and adventure”. Fieldwork and outdoor research is likely to continue to be at the forefront of the quest for new geographical knowledge and whilst it may not be possible to classify all fieldwork as adventurous or an expedition, this trip by Sir Ranulph Fiennes and his team most certainly is!

books_iconCouper, P. and Ansell, L. 2012 Researching the outdoors: exploring the unsettled frontier between science and adventure Area 44 14–21

world_iconSir Ranulph Fiennes’ ‘coldest journey’ begins BBC News 6th December 2012

world_iconViewpoint: The last great polar challenge BBC News 17th October 2012

Pirates of the Web or the Waves: A Conundrum of Governance

by Jen Turner

At the end of October, The Finnish Supreme Court rejected a case from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) fighting an enforced ban of file-sharing website The Pirate Bay.  The BBC reported that the ruling signaled the end of a long court battle between ISP Elisa and copyright bodies in the country.  The Pirate Bay, which offers links to pirated content, has caused controversy in other areas too.  The website is now also banned in the UK, the Netherlands, and Italy.

However, internet rights groups say the bans represent a worrying rise in levels of net censorship – a concern which is shaped by changes in the management of the World Wide Web. Control of the internet and its logistical arrangements stems from agreements made under the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialist UN agency that dates back to 1865.  Now, the ITU is suggesting new proposals which would mean internet companies like Google paying generous fees to local telecoms companies.  These plans would disrupt the balance between the US internet giants and telecom firms across the world.  Administration and organisation of the internet has been dominated by the US since Arpanet, the precursor to the modern internet, was established between four US universities in 1969, and a handful of US-controlled authorities followed.

Google has battled hard in campaigns surrounding the open web and the media-genic issues of free speech and-anti censorship that other ITU proposals allude to. However, as Jemima Kiss reports, for a company worth £150bn, taxes to telecom firms would be payable on every interaction with its 700 million or so daily users.    Perhaps this challenge to Western dominance is an important one, raising issues about how these seemingly placeless entities are controlled.

In similar vein, Kimberley Peters’ recent article in Area explores governance outside of territorial boundaries in political discussion of the geographies of the sea.  Using the example of offshore broadcasting stations such as Radio Caroline, Peters explains the ramifications that ‘pirate’ stations had on the governance of sea-space.  By explaining actions carried out within Britain’s borders, and the international space of the ‘high seas’, this paper recognises how this response challenged Britain’s long-held ideology of maritime freedom.

If we consider both the web and the waves in light of their non-territorial character, we can find similarities in the challenges for regulating them – acknowledging the conundrum for governing these kinds of spaces.

Kimberley Peters, 2011, Sinking the radio ‘pirates’: exploring British strategies of governance in the North Sea, 1964–1991Area 43 281-287

Jemima Kiss, Who controls the internet?The Guardian, 17 October 2012 

Pirate Bay appeal is rejected by Finnish supreme court, BBC News Technology, 30 October 2012

Spaces of Remembrance

By Catherine Waite

Everyone is familiar with the traditional symbols, places and times associated with Remembrance Day. This year’s Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, launched just under two weeks ago, hopes to sell 45 million poppies, the nationally recognised symbol of remembrance in the UK. Yet, the 2012 Poppy Appeal also incorporates a new and innovative method to encourage society to mark the 2 minutes silence at 11am on Sunday 11th November. By using the social media tool “Thunderclap” it is intended that the same message will be posted simultaneously on thousands of Twitter and Facebook profiles as a symbol of remembrance. In doing this the Royal British Legion’s appeal for remembering the fallen moves into a new space of remembrance, alongside the more traditional commemorations that take place at the Cenotaph in Whitehall and at local war memorials across the country.

Changes in the spaces and acts of remembrance have this year also been the subject of geographical consideration. The work of Jenkings et al. (2012) “Wootton Bassett and the political spaces of remembrance and mourning” uses print media analysis to consider how the Wiltshire market town became a nationally recognised space of remembrance as a result of British military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the course of their work they explore how this space spontaneously became a site of memory and remembrance, yet a site that ultimately became temporary in nature following the decision to relocate the destination of repatriation flights away from RAF Lyneham. It is therefore clear from both the innovative use of spaces and symbols by the Royal British Legion and the temporary use of urban areas as spaces of memory and remembrance that geography still has much to offer and yet much to learn about the contemporary uses of space.

Jenkings, K.N., Megoran, N., Woodward, R. and Bos, D. 2012 Wootton Bassett and the political spaces of remembrance and mourning Area 44:3 356-363

Poppy appeal launches with concert BBC News 24th October 2012

Royal British Legion first with Thunderclap social media tool BBC News 5th November 2012

Two Minute Silence Thunderclap

Travelling Identities: Further Attention to Mobility and Nationality

by Jen Turner

By Matt Ryall (originally posted to Flickr as Haggis in a can) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

When the referendum on Scottish independence is held in the autumn of 2014, only residents of Scotland will be eligible to vote.  A recent BBC article found that as a result, almost 400,000 people living north of the border but born in other parts of the UK will get to take part.  However, the 800,000 Scots living in England, Northern Ireland and Wales will not. So, although, Scottish-ness may involve using certain words, liking tartan and eating Haggis, crucially in the political sense, it all boils down to where you live. 

In protest at being disenfranchised, James Wallace, a 23-year-old fellow Dumfries native turned London resident, has launched a petition demanding that expat Scots in other parts of the UK be allowed to participate in the referendum.  Scots ministers say this simply would not be practical.  How, would an electoral register of everyone who considered themselves Scottish be compiled?  Who, after all, is Scottish? You could include all those born in Scotland, or perhaps consider ancestry.  Indeed, it may be that a penchant for Irn Bru and Billy Connolly is enough to earn nationality.  With such a variety of attachments, “it would be absurd to allow anyone who claimed to be Scottish a vote,” says James Mitchell, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde.

A recent report by The Scottish Government found estimated 1.3 million Scottish-born individuals living outside Scotland, and between 19% – 26% of graduates from Scottish institutions found their first job after graduation outside Scotland.  However, no matter their location or the movements across the globe that may occur, a symbolic attachment to Scotland itself remains.  Scholars trying to understand the Scots identity have focused on its symbolism.  McCrone and Bechhofer (2010)explain how in Scotland, allegiance is bound with cultural markers of birth, ancestry and accent, which people use n different ways.   What is clear is that, predicated on a series of national symbols and other attachments, Scottishness as an identity, travels well.

This is a concept considered by Harald Bauder in an early view article of Area, which calls for a reconsideration of the relationship between nationality, mobility and the Nation-State.  Bauder critics the border of a nation, and contests the ability of this territory-based model to incorporate the material practices of human mobility.  In the case of the Scottish referendum, migration outside of the national boundary is considered a detachment to the nation itself.  Bauder’s crucial intervention suggests that identity constructions which have occurred through mobility should not be deemed inferior.  In light of this, “once mobility is no longer scripted as ‘aberrant’, identities will arise from a dialectical process involving the collective social and political practices of mobile (and immobile) people who recognise that they constitute political communities” (2012: 6).  Perhaps in this way, there may be steps towards addressing the conundrum of the referendum.

Harald Bauder, 2012, Nation, ‘migration’ and critical practiceArea, DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01129.x

David McCrone & Frank Bechhofer, 2010, Claiming national identityEthnic and Racial Studies 33 921-948

Jon Kelly, The formula for Scottishness, BBC News, 26 October 2012

The Scottish Government, Engaging the Scottish Diaspora: Rationale, Benefits and Challenges, The Scottish Government 5 October 2009

Hurricane Documentation

by Benjamin Sacks

As Hurricane Sandy hits the densely populated US eastern seaboard, commentators and pundits alike compete to depict local reactions and identify those populations who will be hardest hit. Much of the current concern stems from officials’ highly criticised response in the wake of Hurricane Katrina (2005), which devastated New Orleans and left at least 1,200 people dead. But, collection and analysis of valuable data on constituency responses, first-aid services, and suggestions for future defences against hurricanes has its own history. Sociologists, political scientists, and geographers have experimented with various field research methods.

In 1855, Andrés Poey, of Havana, organised a list of some 400 hurricanes documented in various forms since Christopher Columbus’s 1492 trans-Atlantic expedition. He hoped, by publishing his tables in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, to advance awareness on hurricane theory: for it had ‘now been proved…that wind, in hurricanes and common gales on both sides of the equator, has two motions; and that it turns or blows round a focus or centre in a more or less circular form’ (p. 291).

Nearly 150 years later, using techniques they had earlier tested in nuclear power accidents, in 1996 Donald J Seigler (Old Dominion University), Stanley D Brunn (University of Kentucky), and James H Johnson, Jr (University of North Carolina) documented their use of small focus groups to learn about hurricane responses and better react to future storms. In December 1992, six months after Hurricane Andrew slammed into Florida, the three researchers conducted several focus groups in the Miami area. They believed that their experiment was one of the first implementations of focus groups in post-hurricane emergency planning. Questions were organised around: ‘the pre-impact period’, or preparations for the hurricane; and ‘post-impact period’, or the storm’s psychological, physical, and social consequences. Seigler, Brunn, and Johnson delineated between ‘therapeutic’ and ‘parasitic’/‘exploitative’ responses – unified, communal support versus an “everyone for themselves” mentality (p. 127). The researchers concluded that focused, group discussion in post-disaster scenarios could provide information crucial to more rapid, comprehensive first aid.

 For an official U.S. estimate of casualties from Hurricane Katrina (2005), see here (p. 5).

 Donald J Seigler, Stanley D Brunn, and James H Johnson, Focusing on Hurricane Andrew through the Eyes of the Victims, Area 28 124-29.

 Andrés Puey, A Chronological Table, Comprising 400 Cyclonic Hurricanes Which Have Occurred in the West Indies and the North Atlantic within 362 Years, from 1493-1855: With a Biographical List of 450 Authors, Books, &c., and Periodicals, Where Some Interesting Accounts May be Found, Especially on the West and East Indian Hurricanes [sic], Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London 25 291-328.

The Digital Gravestone: Technology, Temporality and Memorial

By Jen Turner

Less than a week ago, people across the world remembered events of 9/11 in all manner of ways, ranging from simple recognition of the date to a minute of silent reflection.  Two days later, Google illustrated a different take on memorialisation by displaying a tribute to German composer Clara Schumann, in the form of their infamous ‘Google Doodle’. 

A recent article in The Guardian considers how humans have always harnessed the latest technology to develop ingenious methods of memorialising people and events.   Here, Melanie King discusses the wealth of new enterprises available to the discerning mourner, including the transformation of cremated remains into diamonds or tattoos.  King also describes how age-old traditions have been dragged into the 21st Century using “hi-tech gimmickry”.  One Dorset-based funeral home offers the service of attaching a QR (quick response) barcode to a gravestone or memorial plaque.  This can then be scanned by a Smartphone, bringing “the deceased digitally to life” in the form of a full obituary and photographs at a cost of £300. 

Similarly, the BBC reported last year of the prevalence of tribute pages on sites like Facebook, particularly in cases where young people die suddenly.  Their report commented that, “with so many people having an online life, it seems appropriate that they are given a form of online funeral when they die”.  Online media has also stimulated other kinds of remembrance, such as the Twibbon Royal British Legion’s official poppy, which can be added to Twitter user pictures to commemorate war deaths.  As accessible and versatile as these technologies now are, King highlights an important criticism.  The advancement of technology means that today’s innovations may become obsolete tomorrow.  The digital gravestone relies on the continuity of the QR code, which could easily be replaced by something more ingenious.  What will then happen to those obituary memories and photographs trapped behind that barcode?

The temporality of memorials is discussed in a recent Area paper by Jenkings, Megoran, Woodward, and Bos (2012).  Here, focus is upon the processes of memorialisation in the English village of Wootton Bassett, which emerged as a site to honour British military personnel killed in action.  Located near to RAF Lyneham, cortèges carrying repatriated service-men and -women passed through the town, greeted by assembling masses of silent people.  The paper pays particular attention to the town as a place where contemporary engagements with militarism and the meanings of war are negotiated.  In contextualising this, Jenkings et al discuss the end of commemorative services following the repatriation of personnel to a different air base – highlighting the town as another ‘temporally variable’ space of death. 

Considering this in relation to the technological advancement of memorial practice, we can question the impact of creating memorial attachments to changeable objects and spaces. 

Jenkings, K.N., Megoran, N., Woodward, R. & Bos, D., 2012, Wootton Bassett and the political spaces of remembrance and mourning, Area 44.3 356-363

Remembrance in the internet age, BBC News, 11 November 2011

The digital gravestone, The Guardian, 9 September 2012

RGS-IBG New Content Alert: Early View Articles (22nd June 2012)

The following Early View articles are now available on Wiley Online Library.

Commentary

Static imaginations and the possibilities of radical change: reflecting on the Arab Spring
Federico Caprotti and Eleanor Xin Gao
Article first published online: 19 JUN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01110.x

Original Articles

Wootton Bassett and the political spaces of remembrance and mourning
K Neil Jenkings, Nick Megoran, Rachel Woodward and Daniel Bos
Article first published online: 15 JUN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01106.x

RGS-IBG New Content Alert: Early View Articles (16th June 2012)

The following Early View articles are now available on Wiley Online Library.

Original Articles

Visualising postcode data for urban analysis and planning: the Amsterdam City Monitor
Karin Pfeffer, Marinus C Deurloo and Els M Veldhuizen
Article first published online: 28 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01096.x

Changing countries, changing climates: achieving thermal comfort through adaptation in everyday activities
Sara Fuller and Harriet Bulkeley
Article first published online: 28 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01105.x

Rethinking community and public space from the margins: a study of community libraries in Bangalore’s slums
Ajit K Pyati and Ahmad M Kamal
Article first published online: 25 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01100.x

Practising workplace geographies: embodied labour as method in human geography
Chris McMorran
Article first published online: 25 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01101.x

Original Articles

Muslim geographies, violence and the antinomies of community in eastern Sri Lanka
Shahul Hasbullah and Benedikt Korf
Article first published online: 11 JUN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00470.x

Characterising urban sprawl on a local scale with accessibility measures
Jungyul Sohn, Songhyun Choi, Rebecca Lewis and Gerrit Knaap
Article first published online: 29 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00468.x

The geodemographics of access and participation in Geography
Alex D Singleton
Article first published online: 29 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00467.x

Original Articles

Towards geographies of ‘alternative’ education: a case study of UK home schooling families
Peter Kraftl
Article first published online: 8 JUN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00536.x

Boundary Crossings

Geographies of environmental restoration: a human geography critique of restored nature
Laura Smith
Article first published online: 8 JUN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00537.x

A policymaker’s puzzle, or how to cross the boundary from agent-based model to land-use policymaking?
Nick Green
Article first published online: 25 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00532.x

RGS-IBG New Content Alert: Early View Articles (25th May 2012)

The following Early View articles are now available on Wiley Online Library.

Original Articles

Soil hydrodynamics and controls in prairie potholes of central Canada
T S Gala, R J Trueman and S Carlyle
Article first published online: 23 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01103.x

Paying for interviews? Negotiating ethics, power and expectation
Daniel Hammett and Deborah Sporton
Article first published online: 23 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01102.x

Domestication and the dog: embodying home
Emma R Power
Article first published online: 23 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01098.x

Adapting water management to climate change: Putting our science into practice

Runoff attenuation features: a sustainable flood mitigation strategy in the Belford catchment, UK
A R Nicholson, M E Wilkinson, G M O’Donnell and P F Quinn
Article first published online: 22 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01099.x

Commentary

Geography, libertarian paternalism and neuro-politics in the UK
Mark Whitehead, Rhys Jones, Jessica Pykett and Marcus Welsh
Article first published online: 21 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00469.x

Subaltern geopolitics: Libya in the mirror of Europe
James D Sidaway
Article first published online: 11 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00466.x

Original Articles

Faith and suburbia: secularisation, modernity and the changing geographies of religion in London’s suburbs
Claire Dwyer, David Gilbert and Bindi Shah
Article first published online: 22 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00521.x

Mobile nostalgias: connecting visions of the urban past, present and future amongst ex-residents
Alastair Bonnett and Catherine Alexander
Article first published online: 22 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00531.x

Dalits and local labour markets in rural India: experiences from the Tiruppur textile region in Tamil Nadu
Grace Carswell
Article first published online: 22 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00530.x

The Korean Thermidor: on political space and conservative reactions
Jamie Doucette
Article first published online: 18 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00528.x

‘Faith in the system?’ State-funded faith schools in England and the contested parameters of community cohesion
Claire Dwyer and Violetta Parutis
Article first published online: 18 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00518.x

The short-run impact of using lotteries for school admissions: early results from Brighton and Hove’s reforms
Rebecca Allen, Simon Burgess and Leigh McKenna
Article first published online: 16 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00511.x

Learning electoral geography? Party campaigning, constituency marginality and voting at the 2010 British general election
Ron Johnston and Charles Pattie
Article first published online: 16 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00527.x

Hidden histories made visible? Reflections on a geographical exhibition
Felix Driver
Article first published online: 16 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00529.x

‘Read ten thousand books, walk ten thousand miles’: geographical mobility and capital accumulation among Chinese scholars
Maggi W H Leung
Article first published online: 15 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00526.x