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School of Geography

School of Geography Research Events

Archived seminars

Wednesday 23 March, 12-1pm

Prof Jane Wills: ‘Locating Localism’

There is now growing cross-party support for localism in English statecraft.  This incorporates the devolution of political power to a range of ‘local’ organisations (including Local Authorities, Combined Authorities and Local Economic Partnerships) as well as renewed efforts to engage groups of citizens in aspects of government (eg. Co-operative Councils, free schools and neighbourhood planning). Localism is changing the geography of relationships between parts of the state as well as between the state and the citizen. The rationale is that greater freedom (that Clarke and Cochrane (2014) describe as ‘spatial liberalism’) will promote innovation and greater engagement will generate better solutions to pressing concerns (couched in the language of efficiency and/or effectivity).
As such, localism is emerging as a new vision for government and it is associated with new practices of statecraft (such as relationship-building, co-production and experiment). Localism is changing the ‘civic offer’ and its outcomes depend on local ‘civic capacity’.  Such capacity depends upon a wide range of factors including local history and culture, the nature of civil society organisations, social networks and existing skills, as well as the incentives and motivations to act.
This paper will explore this emerging geography of English localism raising questions about its implications for political practice as well as geo-political thought.

Seminars are open to everyone and take place in the School of Geography Seminar Room 7.36, Garstang building (unless stated otherwise). Refreshments are provided following the seminar. For more information and to join the Geography Seminar Series email list contact Dr Karen Bacon or Dr Martin Zebracki.

Monday 7 March, 4.30-6.30pm

'The London Housing Crisis: a View from the North'
Dr. Paul Watt (Birkbeck, University of London), Dr. Desiree Fields (University of Sheffield), Dr. Stuart Hodkinson (University of Leeds)
Moderator: Dr. Alex Schafran, University of Leeds, CITY Debates editor

Venue: Geography Seminar Room, (Garstang 7.36)

The MA in Global Urban Justice and the Cities and Social Justice Cluster of the School of Geography, together with the Contested Cities project, are hosting seminars as part of the Interventions in Urban and Spatial Justice series. This roundtable presentation will feature new research and ideas which are part of an upcoming special feature in the journal CITY on the London housing crisis. Scholars will present a mix of London-centred research and more comparative understandings, especially on the increasingly important role of transnational landlords in transforming real estate markets across the world, followed by debate and discussion. This seminar is an advanced premier of the special issue, which will be released in late April in London.

Wednesday 17 February, 5-6pm

Tackling invasive species: forging links between academia and industry
Dr Mark Fennell

Invasive non-native species (INNS) are one of the leading threats to ecosystem functioning and biodiversity. High impact, or transformer species, change the character, condition, form and/or nature of ecosystems and can have major impacts on rare or protected species. Dr Mark Fennell, who recently transitioned from academia to private sector environmental consultancy, will provide an update on the species that are most problematic in the UK in various sectors, ranging from lard development to maintaining priority/protected habitats. Examples will be provided demonstrating various management practices and biosecurity protocols, along with information on effectiveness. While species like Japanese knotweed have dominated the press, their impacts have been greatly exaggerated, frequently for commercial gain, while other more problematic species have often been overlooked. Additionally, a range of new legislation relating to INNS (national and EU wide) has recently come into effect. An update on how the new legislation effects management and biosecurity of INNS and the species to which the legislation apply will be provided. There is also a disconnect between academia/research and practical management of INNS on the ground. There is great potential for collaboration between private and public sector; however, this potential is currently under-utilised. This issue will be discussed and solutions proposed.
Mark Fennell has over 10 years’ experience in research and management of invasive non-native species (INNS). Following the completion of a PhD in invasion biology, Mark has been working as an Environmental Consultant and now leads the invasive species team for AECOM. AECOM is a 100,000 employee strong multi-disciplinary consultancy with one of the world’s largest private sector ecology teams. Marks research interest include, population genetic of INNS, distribution modelling of INNS, management of INNS.

Monday 25 January 2016, 5-6pm

Agent-based modelling to explore sustainable lifestyles: Space as a medium of social interaction
Dr Gary Polhill

As an inherently interdisciplinary area of work, agent-based modelling has a number of sources, including economics, geography, artificial intelligence, sociology and complex systems. More than a tool, it is a way of thinking that emphasises the roles of heterogeneous individuals and their interactions in generating macro-level phenomena of interest. Where those individuals are associated with locations, agent-based models also offer a natural environment in which to represent how the macro-level is spatially distributed. After briefly introducing agent-based modelling, this talk will explore the representation of space in three agent-based models aimed at exploring scenarios of more sustainable living.

Thursday 26 November 2015, 4pm

Understanding the future of land, rent and housing in UK cities: why the housing crisis is an urban crisis
Michael Edwards, Bartlett School of Planning, UCL
Renowned scholar-activist planner Michael Edwards will be speaking about the present and future of the UK’s housing crisis from his recently published report commissioned by the Government Office for Science as part of the Foresight "Future of Cities" project. He will review and re-frame the history of UK housing over recent decades and offers an account of the current situation from the perspective of a range of cities. He presents possible future scenarios and revisits the earlier examples to see how these cities could be changed by 2060 in various hypothetical social transformations. Arguing that the housing crisis is both an urban crisis and a crisis of unjust urbanisation, he warns that without major transformations, worsening housing problems, growing inequality and damage to economic well-being. His report can be downloaded here and more information about Michael and his decades of inspiring work here:

Wednesday 09 December 2015, 2pm

Just Cycling: the Propensity to Cycle Tool and the Search for a Socially and Environmentally Equitable Transport System
Rachel Aldred (University of Westminster) and Robin Lovelace (University of Leeds)

The speakers will be talking about their work for the Department for Transport to design, build and deliver the Propensity to Cycle Tool (PCT). This project aims to create a strong evidence-base to inform investment and policy decisions to promote cycling. The PCT is the first publicly available open source transport planning tool for cycling and is generating new insights into where new cycling investment will have the greatest impact in terms of increasing the diversity of cyclists. It is the result of close inter-disciplinary collaboration at the interface of GIS, transport policy and public engagement. The project, the prototype of the tool working for Leeds can be seen here and an academic paper on the subject can be seen here.

Thursday 12 November 2015, 6-7.30pm

Migration, networks and international trade 
Professor Jacques Poot, National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis (NIDEA), University of Waikato

Since the early 1990s, many studies have been conducted on the impact of international migration on the international trade in goods and services.  Because most studies have adopted broadly the same methodology, the estimates of how trade is addected by migration yield a set of numbers that can be effectively compared by a technique called meta-analysis.  Contrary to what was traditionally believed, increasing trade does not necessarily reduce the incentives for migration.  While there is evidence that immigration boosts exports more than imports in some countries, in other countries there appears to be evidence of trade balance deterioration.  Implications for trade policies and broader international relations will be addressed. This event is part of a series of lectures being given by Professor Poot around the UK, as part of his Visiting Professorship, awarded by the NZ-UK Link Foundation in autumn 2015.

Wednesday 18 November 2015, 5-6pm

Move Over Sectarianism! Hello Sextarianism! Religion, Feminism and the Regulation of Commercial Sex in Northern Ireland
Paul Maginn

Thursday 19 November 2015, 5-6PM

Measuring Internal Migration Around the Globe: the IMAGE Project 
Professor Martin Bell, School of Geography Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland

Internal migration shapes human settlement, facilitates life course transitions and is integral to national development, but cross-national comparisons have been hampered by differences in the way migration is measured, poor access to data, methodological issues and inadequate summary statistics. The IMAGE Project reviewed global practice in 193 UN member States, assembled an repository of migration data for 135 countries, and built bespoke software (the IMAGE Studio) to address key issues and compute robust comparative indicators. This seminar focuses on cross national differences in two key dimensions of migration - overall intensity and spatial redistribution – for countries encompassing 80% of the global population. It compares overall migration intensities in the form of global league tables which couple the approach proposed by Courgeau et al. (2012) to the flexible aggregation routines of the IMAGE Studio. Impacts on spatial redistribution are compared using a new Index of Net Migration Impact (INMI) which decomposes the contributions of migration intensity and migration effectiveness to cross-national variations, and through regression parameters linking patterns of migration to population density. Explanation for cross-national variations I intensity and redistribution is sought through correlations with a range of national development indicators.

Wednesday 06 May 2015, 4-5pm

It Is Easy to Rule a Poor Man: The Political Ecology of Land Grabbing and Environmental Change in Uganda
Padraig Carmody, Trinity College Dublin 

Thursday 19 March 2015, 5.15-6pm

Can Resilience Be Redeemed? A Critical Reflection
Dr Geoffrey DeVerteuil, School of Planning and Geography, Cardiff University

This presentation focuses on how to redeem the concept of resilience for a critical geography, moving beyond knee-jerk critiques and anodyne responses. I underline several key areas of debate -- around adaptation, resistance, transformation and survival -- and illustrate with material from my forthcoming book, specifically the 'how' of resilience via the on-the-ground processes surrounding the fate of precarious inner-city areas deemed 'service hubs' (e.g. clusters of voluntary sector organizations) faced with the threat of gentrification-induced displacement.
Put as a question, what accounts for service-hub resilience when other precarious arrangements of collective consumption (especially social housing) have been severely curtailed or fallen by the wayside entirely? After all, even those most convinced of pervasive neoliberalism acknowledge that residual mechanisms of support, survival and 'staying put' from bygone eras still persist in the inner city - it is just that they ignore or assume away the resilience inherent in this process, the actual means of resilience, the agents of resilience, the consequences of such resilience, and how these tendencies may differ comparatively. I wish to see how processes of resilience play out for voluntary sector organizations across inner-city neighborhoods in three global city-regions (London, Los Angeles and Sydney).
The results suggested a critical intent to the concept of resilience, which is usually seen as regressively status-quo, by developing what I deem a 'critical resilience of the residuals' whereby the precarious relics of previously more equitable (Keynesian) arrangements are defended and perhaps even act as springboards for transformation and 'commons'.

Monday 16 February-Thursday 19 February 2015

Contested Cities talks

Wednesday 25 February 2015, 4-5pm

Wildfires: The Good, the Bad and the Necessary
Claire Belcher, University of Exeter

Wednesday 28 January 2015, 4-5pm

Food Security: Why Is It Such an Issue?
Tim Benton, University of Leeds

We are pleased to welcome Professor Tim Benton, University of Leeds,  to our 2014-2015 School of Geography Seminar Series.  Professor Benton will discuss “Can we have a “sustainable” food system?” This seminar will be a wide-ranging interdisciplinary talk, bringing in some insights from working with industry and within Westminster, the commission and the G20.

The challenges of globally increasing demand for food put huge pressures on natural resources.  Given the rate of growth of demand, and the current rate of growth of yields, a “business as usual” scenario sees agri-food requiring over a doubling of water and large increases of land by mid-century and emissions from the sector would account for ~2 degrees of global warming by themselves.  “Business as usual” is therefore not a palatable option, and this is even before taking into account the challenges presented by climate change.  Where is there scope for change?  Some change is needed on the supply side to produce more, sustainably, but significant changes are needed on the demand side to reduce pressure on the environment but also driven by the needs for improving global public health.  Are demand-side measures feasible? 


Wednesday 19 November 2014, 4-5pm

"Imagine the Impossible": Science, Art, Transversality and the Creation of Creative Subjects
Harriet Hawkins, Royal Holloway, University of London

This Seminar takes as its focus the UCLA Nanolab’s interdisciplinary summer school program. The two-week intensive course brings together artists and scientists to provide an educational opportunity for high school students that engages the practices of art and science to prepare students for the predicted constant changeability of the job market in the twenty-first century as they contemplate their university education. Through attention to the practices, prevailing narratives about different forms of creativity and the objects produced in the course of the program, we explore how the Sci | Art Nanolab opens up moments of inventiveness, innovation and imagination in its goal of producing creative and intellectually flexible subjects. To understand the production of such subjects, we turn to the work of Felix Guattari and his three ecologies. Guattari seeks in the micro-politics of subjectification a way out of the manifold crisis – in the environment, in the individual and in the socius – brought about by what he calls Integrated World Capitalism. We explore the art-science projects the students formulate, design, and construct, in light of the cultivation of imaginaries and insights akin to the new social and aesthetic practices Guattari calls for in the face of these challenges. Thus these creative practices become the means to answer two fundamental political questions: where are the dissenting/creative subjects of today? and how are they being produced? We find an answer to these questions in the value of linking art and its aesthetic dimension with science and its technical orientation in the production of subjectivity.

Wednesday 15 October 2014, 5.30pm

Applying Risk Terrain Modeling (RTM) to Crime Analysis and Intervention
Professor Leslie W. Kennedy, Rutgers University

This seminar will describe research that is being conducted that connects research on risky places with police intervention strategies using Risk Terrain Modeling (RTM), a geospatial method of operationalizing the spatial influence of crime risk factors to common geographic units that was developed at Rutgers University. Separate risk map layers are combined to produce a risk terrain map showing the presence, absence, or intensity of all risk factors at every location throughout the landscape.
The talk will include a software utility demonstration that automates the processing of RTM followed by a discussion of its application in a multi-jurisdictional study of a representative selection of cities in the United States that is currently being conducted with Joel Caplan and Eric Piza as Co-PIs. This study is designed as a quasi-experimental project with two primary goals: 1) to replicate and validate RTM in multiple jurisdictions and across many different crime types; and, 2) to evaluate theoretically- and empirically-grounded risk-based interventions targeted at high-risk micro-level environments.  

Leslie W. Kennedy (PhD University of Toronto) is currently University Professor of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University and Director of the Rutgers Center on Public Security. He teaches graduate-level courses at the School of Criminal Justice (SCJ) and is a core faculty member in the Division of Global Affairs at Rutgers. He was the Dean of SCJ from 1998 to 2007.  Dr. Kennedy's current research in public security builds upon his previous work in event analysis, assessing the social contexts in which dangers in society are identified and deterred. He is the author or co-author of 20 books and over 70 research articles and chapters.  He has published in major journals in criminology and criminal justice, including Criminology, Justice Quarterly, and Journal of Quantitative Criminology.

Thursday 02 October 2014, 4pm

The Past, Present and Future of Spatial Analytics with "Big Data"
Dr Alex Singleton, University of Liverpool

This talk will explore the emergence of "big data" analytics in Geography, placing these developments within the context of historical methods and approaches to spatial data. It is argued that although there are some unique hallmarks of big data that can constrain analyses, a disjunction between available data and computational power is not a new phenomenon; and geographers in particular have been adept at creating innovative solutions that counter such constraints.
A case study of early geodemographic analysis is considered. Discussion then returns to the contemporary period, illustrating a number of recent examples coupling big data with open source analytical tools to explore patterns and dynamics of city populations. Finally, some speculation and challenges are presented for future directions in spatial big data analytics.

Wednesday 19 March 2014, 4pm

Recovering Bookchin
Dr Andy Price, Principal Lecturer in Politics, The Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics, Sheffield Hallam University

Through an extensive body of political and philosophical ideas he called social ecology, Murray Bookchin (1921-2006) elucidated one of the first intellectual responses to the ecological crisis. However, over the last two decades of his life Bookchin’s ideas slipped from focus, obscured by the emergence of a crude caricature that portrayed him as a dogmatic sectarian who intended to dominate the radical left for his own personal motivations. In Recovering Bookchin, Andy Price revisits the Bookchin caricature and critically discounts it as the product of a largely misguided literature that focused on Bookchin the individual and not his ideas. By looking afresh at Bookchin's work, Price argues that his contribution can be seen to provide a coherent practical and theoretical response to the ecological and social crises of our time.

Thursday 27 February, 4pm

Moral distance at close quarters: Negative and meaningless interaction in asylum appeals
Dr Nick Gill (University of Exeter) hosted by Citizenship and Belonging cluster

Much has been made of the potential of the face-to-face encounter for reducing prejudice and closing moral distance. Psychologists, however, have long-recognised that not all contact between people who differ markedly is likely to improve their relationship. So while states are sometimes legally obliged to allow their functionaries to meet unwanted migrants such as asylum seekers (for example at the border, during interviews and in court) in this presentation I discuss the techniques that are employed to ensure that genuine encounters are averted during these meetings. I focus in particular upon asylum appeals, which are legal events that occur in court-like settings, drawing on a three month multi-sited ethnography of eight courts that involved observation of over 120 hearings.  As it transpires, it is hard to imagine a procedure that more thoroughly violates the conditions for positive, prejudice-reducing contact set out by the psychologists. The interaction in the court is often faltering, stilted and unnatural, while applicants themselves are constantly reminded of their unequal status, set on edge, exposed to the whims of judges and falsely accused by trained and resourced adversaries. In short, it is as if these hearings have been designed to suppress the potential of the face-to-face encounter and to open moral distance at close quarters, an observation that holds a series of implications for our understanding of the way states manage contact.

Wednesday 19 February, 5pm

Urban resistance and contestation in Latin America: A view from Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro
Pablo Vitale (Buenos Aires) and Federico Venturini (Leeds) hosted by Cities and Social Justice cluster

Pablo Vitale, a visiting research from Buenos Aires and Federico Venturini a researcher from Leeds recently arrived from Rio de Janeiro will present their experiences of urban contestation and working with social movements in these two cities. On Buenos Aires the focus will be on self-management of residents of informal neighbourhoods and their links with public policy and in Rio the focus will be on the recent urban uprising in Brazilian cities and the experience of doing fieldwork in revolutionary times. A talk organised as part of the Contested Cities network, School of Geography.

Wednesday 12 February 2014, 5pm

Is China gentrifying?  Economic transition, speculative urbanism and accumulation by dispossession
Dr Hyun Bang Shin, Associate Professor of Geography and Urban Studies, Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science

Gentrification requires properties to be available for investment through market transactions. In China which has gone through transition from a planned to a market economy, it is necessary to unleash decommodified properties, such as public housing estates and lands, to make them no longer entangled with the legacy of China’s planned economy. This also means inhabitants’ dispossession to dissociate them from claiming their use rights to the properties and their right to their original neighbourhoods. This paper argues that while China’s urban redevelopment may have produced ‘gentrification-effects’ similar to ‘new-build gentrification’, a large number of redevelopment projects have been targeting dilapidated urban spaces that are yet to be fully converted into commodities, and this process can be better analysed from the perspective of accumulation by dispossession. The use of the latter perspective exposes the exploitative nature of the state in China, where dispossession precedes and is a precursor to gentrification.

Monday 9 December 2013, 5.30pm

Improving people's lives: the second Nicaraguan revolution? 
Carlos Fonseca Terán, Deputy Head of the International Relations department of the FSLN (Sandinista Party), Nicaragua

Carlos is the son of FSLN founder Carlos Fonseca who was killed during the revolution.  Key themes of his talk will include how the FSLN programmes have promoted economic growth and stability as well as a reduction in poverty and inequality in Nicaragua, and the role of the ALBA agreement - Bolivarian alliance with Venezuela: trade, a tool to combat poverty.

Tuesday 26 November 2013, 5.15pm

Grieving for lost homes: Territorial stigmatisation, the rent gap, and displacement
Dr Tom Slater, University of Edinburgh
Tom's research interests are in gentrification and displacement; urban inequality and marginality; ethnic segregation in comparative perspective; and charting and challenging neoliberalism.

Wednesday 13 November 2013, 6pm

State repression and the right to the city in South Africa: the story of the shack-dwellers movement of South Africa 
S'bu Zikode, founder of the shack-dwellers' movement Abahlali baseMjondolo in South Africa

Urban uprisings in Brazil
Matheus Grandi, visiting researcher - Contested Cities project

Tuesday 12 November 2013, 5pm

Reconnecting with nature, a faith perspective
Reconnecting with nature – an Islamic perspective, Fazlun Khalid
The Islamic garden as an opportunity for bridge-building between cultures, Emma Clark
Are British Muslims green? Mark Bryant

The event is free to attend but booking is advised: Further details

Tuesday 15 October 2013, 4pm

Pest suppressive landscapes
Dr Hazel Parry, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, Australia
Dr Parry's work centres on computer modelling of insect/environment interactions and the control of agricultural pests, particularly through encouraging the habitats of their natural predators. Venue: Room 1.40, School of Geography main building (no 38 on the Campus Map)

Wednesday 01 May 2013

City journeys: how can we do sustainable urban tourism for the geographically-minded?
Dr Rachael Unsworth, School of Geography, University of Leeds

Tuesday 23 April 2013

A rogue's gallery of Spatial Autocorrelation Revolutionaries
Prof. Arthur Getis, Emeritus Professor of Geography, San Diego State University

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Shining new light on the dynamics of braided rivers: tales from the riverbank.
Prof. James Brasington, Queen Mary, University of London

Wednesday 13 March 2013

"Fluid geography": riding waves with Kant and Buckminster Fuller
Dr Diane Morgan, School of Fine Art, History and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Re-thinking number in the twilight of biopower.
Prof. Matt Hannah, Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University

Abstract: A speculative exploration of the shifting import of statistical knowledge (for example, census analysis) amidst the ongoing ruination of social solidarity caused by neoliberal governance.

Particularly in the wake of Giorgio Agamben's writings, critical human geographers are accustomed to thinking of what Foucault termed 'biopolitics' as a form of 'power/knowledge' fundamentally built around domination. By reflecting upon our current neo-liberal historical conjuncture, and upon newly emerging research on the strategic production of ignorance, this paper offers a different perspective, and makes a plea for the defence of the eroding knowledge infrastructure that underlies the biopolitics of populations.

Thursday 31 January 2013

Challenging dominant understandings of youth politics in late modernity - the case of the 2010 student occupation movement.
Prof. Robert Holland, School of Sociology at the University of Newcastle.

Thursday 29 November 2012

Radical (Higher) Education in the Age of Austerity: Students as Producers and the Cooperative Model.  
Professor Mike Neary, Dean of Teaching and Learning, Centre for Educational Research and Development, University of Lincoln

Monday 19 November 2012

The promised Land. Migrants, football and politics in Leeds.
Anthony Clavane, journalist and novelist

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Sex, Race and Class – What are the Terms of Unity?
Selma James, women's rights and anti-racist campaigner and author

Selma James is a renowned women's rights and anti-racist campaigner and author who has been described as “iconic” and as having “a gift of clarifying knotty issues in words that people can grasp”. She is co-ordinator of the Global Women's Strike (GWS) which is based at the busy Crossroads Women’s Centre in London, whose network extends to a number of countries. In the 70s she coined the word "unwaged" to describe the caring work women do – it has since entered the English language to describe all who work without wages, on the land, in the home, in the community.  She addresses the power relations within the working class movement, and how to organise despite and against these power relations, South and North – including drawing on the experience of Occupy in London and the US in which the GWS has been active.

More information on Selma James and her writings is available from:

Guardian Review, 8 June 2012

An extensive video interview on Democracy Now on the occasion of the launch of the anthology in the US.

3 October 2012

Climate change impacts on Amazonian rainforests: the role of data in reducing vegetation model uncertainty
David Galbraith, School of Geography, University of Leeds

Predictions of future climate change impacts on Amazonian rainforests vary widely, from substantial increases in forest biomass to catastrophic ‘die-back’ of forest vegetation. The uncertainty in these predictions is substantial and arises due to uncertainty in future emissions pathways, uncertainty in climate model predictions and uncertainty in the simulated response of vegetation to changing climate. In this talk, I explore the relative importance of different sources of uncertainty in simulations of climate change impacts on carbon storage by Amazonian rainforests and discuss how increasingly available field data can help to reduce the uncertainty associated with vegetation model predictions for tropical forests.

01 February 2012

Researching trauma and vulnerability. Forced labour in Yorkshire and homosexuality in Uganda
Jo Sadgrove and Hannah Lewis, Stuart Hodkinson and Louise Waite, School of Geography, University of Leeds

This seminar will present reflections from two research projects at the School of Geography. Hannah Lewis, Stuart Hodkinson and Louise Waite will present some of their work within the ESRC funded project "Precarious lives: asylum seekers and refugees’ experiences of forced labour", a collaboration between University of Leeds and Salford. The aim of the study is to gain an in-depth understanding of the experiences of forced and exploitative labour among asylum seekers and refugees living in England. Jo Sadgrove will talk about her research on homosexuality in Uganda which is part of a wider research project recently finished at the School of Geography and funded by the AHRC/ESRC titled Sexuality & Global Faith Networks: A Social Topography. Combining these two research projects the seminar will reflect on the research experience, in particular how researchers and participants construct the experience of trauma and vulnerability throughout the research process.

07 March 2012

Reconciliation ecology and urban waterscapes
Rob Francis, Kings College London

Urban rivers are often heavily engineered and have suffered a substantial reduction in ecological quality. Because they may appear ecologically poor and offer relatively few opportunities for conservation and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem services, ecological investigations of such systems are rare. Usually, environmental research and improvements focus on water quality issues, while more detailed research on the habitats and biodiversity of such rivers is generally absent. Most rivers in heavily urbanised areas maintain flood defence walls and embankments as part of their engineering modifications, and which may superficially be considered to be ecologically hostile. However, work along the River Thames through central London has established that the flood defence walls of this highly engineer urban river may support relatively high plant diversity, with 90 species being found along surveyed sections of the wall in 2009. Other investigations have established that the wall plant assemblages and diversity are controlled via a mix of landscape and local factors, including river constriction, wash frequency, wall material type and wall physical complexity. Comparison of seeds transported through the system (the potential diversity) with those species found growing on the walls (expressed diversity) have highlighted that many more species (+50%) could establish on the walls if suitable habitat conditions were present. Consequently, the potential exists for substantial improvement of biodiversity on the walls, if habitat can be ecologically engineered following the principles of reconciliation ecology, whereby modifications ensure that societal use is not compromised by increased availability for nonhuman species."

02 May 2012

Bringing terrorism home: fear, security and domestic violence
Rachel Pain, Durham University

In this presentation, domestic violence is framed as terrorism. Despite there being a logic to this, it remains that in public, policy and academic analysis, domestic violence is treated as distinct from other forms of violence. I suggest that this is because of its particular geographies; despite the many exhortations to give up on ordering geographies as either global or intimate, public or private, personal or political, spectacular or mundane, we still tend to view the world in that way. Drawing on diverse literatures from political and feminist science, this project is exploring the implications of everyday terrorism. In particular it examines the role that fear plays in intimate violence. It asks how understandings of any kind of terrorism change when fear is framed as having liberatory as well as oppressive potential. I present findings from research with domestic violence survivors, and consider their implications.