Tag Archives: identity

Collecting as Archiving

By Will Andrews, Aberystwyth University

In a recent article published in Transactions, Didier DeLyser (2015) explains the importance of the what she refers to as ‘archival autoethnography’ (p209) as a way to approach and analyse the intimate spatialities of social memory tied up in amateur collections.  The article explores DeLyser’s own collections of souvenirs related to Helen Hunt Jackson’s 1884 novel Ramona, whilst contextualising this within wider enthusiasm for the novel and its impacts.  Many of these souvenir items, such as written postcards are tied to certain geographical locations in Southern California, in this way they connect people to place as well fitting into broader narratives of collection and enthusiasm the postcards in particular providing clear and intimate accounts of social memory in place.

800px-Collection-of-cameras                                        A Collection of Old Soviet Cameras (Dzhepko, 2007)

April 7th saw the second series of BBC 2’s Collectaholics (BBC, 2015a), a popular culture lens on the personal collections and archives compiled by various individuals who have interests in subjects which do not always attract more mainstream archival attention. The programme details, “the weird and wonderful collections of some of Britain’s passionate and avid…collectors” (ibid). As DeLyser (2015) explains such collections transcend cultural capital or monetary value (p209) and have more to do with the personal experiences and memories of the collectors. Collections on the BBC series range from an archived collection of natural history items in the first episode to more performative archives as in the sixth episode when Mark Hill explores a home transformed by its owner into a recreated early twentieth century cottage (BBC, 2015a). Both collections can be seen as pertinent examples of DeLyser’s observations, that people collect items which connect them to certain places and broader narratives, preserving their own, ‘intimate spatialities of social memory” (p210).

p02nbbzz                                                 Episode 1. Collectaholics (BBC, 2015b)

Beyond the importance of collecting as a creative process or practice DeLyser (p209) argues the methodological importance of collecting as archiving. That by gathering texts and artefacts ourselves we can contribute to important alternative archives which through the scholarly realm may ultimately bring more attention and inquiry to their circumstances, as is true of Ramona as a result of DeLyser’s work. Furthermore by collecting souvenirs we can better understand the work these do in the lives of those who purchase them. Through my own autoethnographic research within modified car culture I have begun to see the building of the modified car as a sort of collection of parts and indeed many people collect parts in order to maintain a sort of archive. In this way I would argue that DeLyser and Greenstein’s (2014) account of rebuilding a classic Tatra car is itself another example of creating an alternative archive. Traditionally historical geographers have approached the archive as something separate from the domestic or professional spaces of their homes and offices instead we can and should turn to the collections which “reside with us in our homes and offices” (DeLyser, 2015: 209).

Cake_drums_-_Belgium                                               Cake Drums- Belgium (Spotter2, 2009)
To conclude, the current BBC series Collectaholics shows that there is a popular fascination with collecting and the subsequent informal and personal archives created, by watching these episodes through a lens informed by DeLyser’s (2015) article we can begin to see the geographical and intimate spatialities woven into the tales of these weird and wonderful collections.
References

globe4 BBC (2015a) ‘Collectaholics‘, BBC Two website

60-world2 BBC (2015b) ‘Episode 1. Collectaholics‘, BBC Two website

books_icon DeLyser, D. (2015) ‘Collecting, kitsch and the intimate geographies of social memory: a story of archival autoethnography‘, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 40(2), 209-222

books_icon DeLyser, D. & Greenstein, P. (2015) ‘ “Follow that car!” Mobilities of Enthusiasm in a Rare Car’s Restoration’, The Professional Geographers, 67(2), 255-268

60-world2 Dzhepko, L. (2007) ‘A collection of old Soviet cameras on sale in the Vernisazh in Izmailovky Park, Moscow, Russia‘, Wikimedia Commons

60-world2 Spotter2 (2009) ‘Cake Drums- Belgium‘, Wikimedia Commons

Fox News ‘no-go zones’ and British Muslim negotiations of urban citizenship

By Ashley Crowson, King’s College London

Over the past month, the geography of Europe’s Muslim population has been greatly exciting the pundits invited to talk on the conservative Fox News channel. Furore was sparked when ‘terrorism expert’ Steven Emerson, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, told host ‘Judge Jeanine’ about the ‘hundreds’ of ‘no-go zones’ across Europe, in which non-Muslims are supposedly not welcome.

Emerson stated, “In Britain, it’s not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go… In parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to religious Muslim attire.”

UKIP’s Nigel Farage even turned up to tell Sean Hannity about the ‘blind eye’ that has supposedly been turned towards the ‘Muslim ghettos’ where ‘the police and all the normal agents of the law have withdrawn’ and where ‘Sharia law has come in’.

These segments were widely mocked across social media and the station eventually issued an apology, stating that there was “no credible information to support the assertion”.

Despite the apology and the ridicule, this idea of ‘no-go zones’ has been seized by the far-right. Nationalist group Britain First has, according to The Independent, restarted its ‘Christian patrols’ in parts of east London, with the stated aim to make “our streets safe for our people”.

Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana and a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, has also jumped upon the ‘no-go zones’ theme, telling a neocon think tank that, in the West, there are areas in which “non-assimilationist Muslims establish enclaves and carry out as much of Sharia law as they can.”

An article by Deborah Phillips in January’s edition of Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers is critical of these kinds of popular and political representations of Muslim neighbourhoods, which typically portray Muslim communities as made up of “dubious citizens and unassimilable others”.

The paper seeks to “complicate understandings of British Muslim citizenship” by underscoring the “salience of the neighbourhood as a performative space implicated in citizenship formation and the sedimentation of feelings of belonging.” Philips’ work involved conducting interviews and focus groups with Muslims and newly arrived economic migrants from Eastern Europe in the UK city of Bradford.

Like the right-wing pundits, freedom of movement was foremost among the Muslim participants’ concerns; the freedom to travel into ‘white areas’ was widely perceived to be constrained, with many women stating that they feel uncomfortable about moving outside community spaces because of fear of hostility and violence. Female participants described the commercialised city centre as ‘not for the likes of us’, and ‘sort of out of bounds’.

The apparent ease with which their new Eastern European neighbours traversed the city, as seemingly ‘unmarked’ White Christian bodies, was identified as a source of tension. Muslim participants suggested that this stood in contrast to their own lack of freedom to “cross the boundaries of public space without surveillance and ‘all that hassle’… or to enter white residential spaces without fear of harassment.”

One idea mooted by Phillips is that the desire to appropriate city space may be, at least in part, motivated by feelings of restriction. The sense of empowerment gained when moving through a ‘Muslim neighbourhood’ goes a little way towards compensating for immobilities elsewhere.

These debates, involving issues of citizenship, identity and appropriation of space, are inherently geographical and have so far been largely dominated by actors seeking to capitalise on anti-Muslim sentiment. Phillips’ paper is a timely contribution that works to inject some desperately needed nuance into these debates that show few signs of dissipating.

 Deborah Phillips, 2015, Claiming spaces: British Muslim negotiations of urban citizenship in an era of new migrationTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers 40(1) 62-74.

Open Borders: outsiders, immigration and moral politics

by Fiona Ferbrache

The Statue of Liberty on which a plaque displays the following: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of you teamming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

“How far should an open society go on accepting outsiders?”

This question relating to immigration control and citizenship was posed by political philosopher, Professor Sandel, to an audience at the University of Dallas, Texas.  This US state shares a border with Mexico and around one million illegal immigrants are said to be living in Texas.  The debate is available to listen to, as part of Radio 4’s Public Philosopher series in which Prof. Sandel discusses contemporary political issues at various universities.  In the most recent series, Prof. Sandel raised political-moral issues that have been at the forefront of agendas during the recent US Presidential campaigns.

Another question posed by Prof. Sandel is whether there should be any controls on migration at all.  He puts this to his audience by asking “how many would be in favour of open borders and how many would be against?”

Debates around ‘no border’ policies are raised by Bauder (2012) in Area.  Contextualised as a way of overcoming the ontology of the nation-state and associated identities and migrant subjectivities (i.e. the classification of migrants as foreigners and non-citizens), Bauder claims that no-border projects seek to liberalise migrants.  Not only does this free them from functionary classifications such as ‘immigrant’, ‘resident’, or ‘temporary worker’, it also draws attention to migrants’ complex identities beyond these classifications.  The concept of no borders effectively disrupts the dominant frameworks used to understand migration in the contemporary world.

In response to Prof. Sandel’s question, the majority of the audience was against open borders, while a small minority was in favour.  Where do you stand?

  Bauder, H. (2012) Nation, ‘migration’ and critical practice. Area. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01129.x

  The Public Philosopher: Immigration. Radio 4

  Latino’s immigration issue brings mixed feelings towards Obama. BBC News online

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

The Geographical Journal Content Alert (New Articles)

The Geographical JournalThe Geographical Journal

Early View (Online Version of Record published before inclusion in an issue)

 


These early view articles are now available on Wiley Online Library.


Original Articles

How are they othered? Globalisation, identity and violence in an Indian city
IPSITA CHATTERJEE
Article first published online: 14 JUL 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2011.00427.x

Youthful Religiosities

By Sarah Mills

In their recent article in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Hopkins et al (2011) explore the influence of intergenerationality on the development of young people’s religious identities.  They review current trends in new ways of ‘doing’ religion and argue that religious spaces of meaning are becoming increasingly diversified.  Drawing on research with young Christians in Glasgow and their guardians, they highlight the multiple influences on the religiosity of young people and discuss these through themes of correspondence, compliance, challenge and conflict.  They “propose a new conceptual framework for better understanding the complex interplay between intergenerationality and religious beliefs” (p.315) and demonstrate their argument through stressing the importance of “sites such as grandparents’ homes, the journey to and from church, experiences of schooling, youth group practices, peer group relationships and popular culture” in young people’s articulations of their religiosity (p.326).

A number of recent news stories and events highlight the need to take young people’s religiosities seriously and to reflect on the diverse sites, influences and relationships that play a part in developing young people’s religious identities.  Some of these relate to education, for example the recent campaign on the future of RE in schools and the English Baccalaureate.  Others can be seen as features of more formal sites of institutional religion and worship, such as this year’s celebrations marking the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible, many of which involve young people.  These short examples highlight how crucial it is to reflect on the range of influences in the formation of religious identities and the complexities of religious beliefs.

 Read Peter Hopkins, Elizabeth Olson, Rachel Pain and Giselle Vincett (2011) ‘Mapping intergenerationalities: the formation of youthful religiosities’ Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 36 (2):314-327.

 Read ‘Campaign for the future of RE in schools’ on BBC Online

 View events during 2011 celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible

‘N-gauging’ your Christmas Shopping: indoor leisure and model railways

by Fiona Ferbrache

There are three shopping days left until Christmas and if you are short of ideas of what to buy children, why not take a look at the “Top Toys for Christmas” (Which?, 2010).  This year, “tech gizmos” and electronic gadgets feature heavily, but certain items may remind you of your own wish lists to Santa.  Take a look at the Top Toys of years past (see, Toy Retailers Association); do you recall the popularity of Teletubbies in 1997, shelves full of Ghostbusters in 1988, and 1984 as the year for Care Bears?  The yoyo appears twice in this list of favourites, in 1929 and 1998.

Another popular item is the train set:  In 1914, Hornby manufactured its “0 Gauge” clockwork model trains, while in 1925 it released its first electric train.  1981 saw Lego launch an electric train set, popular on Christmas lists.

Model trains are not just for children, as highlighted by Yarwood and Shaw (2010).  They show that railway modelling is a serious hobby that reflects the identities of its participants – producers and consumers – and involves the construction and running of scale-model trains on layouts comprising track and scenery.  Yarwood and Shaw draw on railway modelling as an empirical example of indoor leisure – hobbies and crafts that “have been neglected by geographers” (p.425).  Listening to the stories that modellers tell about their railway layouts, these geographers argue that model railways, and the way in which they are practiced, deserve closer scrutiny as active forms of representation engaging participants with particular spaces.

As you see, even a Christmas shopping list contains elements of geography.

Yarwood and Shaw (2010) ‘N-gauging’ geographies: craft consumption, indoor leisure and model railways. Area. Vol.42,4 pp.425-433

Which? (2010) Top toys for Christmas 2010 revealed. Which? Guide Online. 29 October, 2010

Toy Retailers Association. Online. Accessed 10 October, 2010