• Nature, Nurture, (Neo-)Nostalgia? Back-casting for a more socially and environmentally sustainable post-COVID future

      Collins, Rebecca; Welsh, Katharine; Rushton, Megan; Cliffe, Anthony; Bull, Eloise; University of Chester; Newcastle University (Taylor and Francis, 2022-07-27)
      Commentaries on lived experiences of COVID-19-induced ‘lockdown’ have simultaneously directed public imaginations backwards to draw inspiration and fortitude from historical periods of national and global challenge, and forwards into futures characterised by greater environmental sensitivity and community resilience. In this article we argue that individuals’ and households’ practical coping strategies from different phases of lockdown within the UK offer clues as to how adaptive embodiments of close connection – to nature and community – both inform contemporary practices of everyday resilience and signpost towards enablers of a more socially compassionate and environmentally sustainable future. Our novel approach to conceptualising post-COVID recovery draws on ‘back-casting’ – an approach which envisages pathways towards alternative, ‘better’ futures – to work back from the notion of sustainable lifestyles, through participants’ narratives of coping in/with lockdown, to the forms of adaptation that provided solace and encouragement. We highlight how these embodied and emotional adaptations constitute a form of nascent ‘neo-nostalgia’ capable of reaching beyond the enabling of coping mechanisms in the present to inform long-lasting capacity for individual and community resilience in the face of future socio-environmental crises.
    • The road to ‘local green recovery’: signposts from COVID-19 lockdown life in the UK

      Collins, Rebecca; Welsh, Katharine; University of Chester (Wiley, 2022-01-19)
      Responding to the conspicuous absence of reference to the local scale in national and global discourses of ‘green recovery’ from COVID-19, this paper articulates a series of interlinked research agendas united by a focus on what a ‘green recovery’ might involve at a local scale within the context of the United Kingdom. We argue that geography as a discipline is particularly well placed to contribute to theoretical and practical framings of ‘green recovery’ as manifested at and through a range of scales, including the micro (individual), meso (household) and what we term ‘meso+’ (neighbourhood). Specifically, we signpost what might be considered ‘green shoots’ worthy of urgent empirical investigation – shifts in everyday life and practice catalysed by COVID-19 and with the potential to underpin longer-lasting transformations towards socially, economically and environmentally sustainable localities.
    • Playful Encounters: Games for Geopolitical Change

      Bos, Daniel; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2021-12-07)
      Bringing together literatures on play, (video) games, and alter- (native) geopolitics this paper explores how digital games offer playful encounters that challenge popular understandings of geopolitics. While geographical scholarship has exposed the ways video games promote geopolitical and militaristic cultures, this paper concentrates on the disruptive qualities of play. More specifically, the paper focuses on This War of Mine (2014), a game which fosters playful encounters that encourage the player to reflect on the everyday consequences of conflict in urban spaces and their civilian populations. Drawing on an analysis of player reviews of the game, this paper demonstrates how play shapes imaginaries of the geopolitical context(s) of urban conflict and stimulates players to reflect on their attitudes towards violence. In doing so, the paper critically demonstrates how digital games offer important cultural outlets in encountering alternative understandings of geopolitics.
    • Nationalism, popular culture, and the media

      Bos, Daniel; University of Chester (Routledge, 2021-11-16)
      The media and popular culture play an integral role in how the idea of the nation has been developed, contested and contextualized over space and time. After acknowledging the media’s part in creating a sense of national community, this chapter reflects on the everyday geographies in which the nation is (re)produced via a range of media. While geographers have focused on the discursive construction of the nation in popular culture and the media, here I explore how nationalism is experienced, embodied and performed through everyday mediated encounters. I then consider the paradoxical relationship between globalization and nationalism and the impact of a society that is more and more digital. More specifically, I explore how the internet is increasingly involved in the everyday reproduction of nations at a range of scales. By drawing attention to the role of social media, I highlight the mobility of the “national image,” the weaponization of affect, and the transnational ties that have been forged and are reworking understandings of national identity and nationalism in the 21st century. To conclude, I offer future theoretical and methodological approaches in which geographers can contribute to understanding the mediated encounters of the nation and nationalism.
    • Editorial: Geoscience communication - Planning to make it publishable

      Hillier, John; Welsh, Katharine; Stiller-Reever, Mathew; Priestley, Rebecca; Roop, Heidi; Lanza, Tiziana; Illingworth, Sam; Loughborough University; University of Chester; Konsulent Stiller-Reeve & University of Bergen; Victoria University of Wellington; University of Minnesota; Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia; Edinburgh Napier University (Copernicus Publications, 2021-10-27)
      If you are a geoscientist doing work to achieve impact outside academia or engaging different audiences with the geosciences, are you planning to make this publishable? If so, then plan. Such investigations into how people (academics, practitioners, other publics) respond to geoscience can use pragmatic, simple research methodologies accessible to the non-specialist or be more complex. To employ a medical analogy, first aid is useful and the best option in some scenarios, but calling a medic (i.e. a collaborator with experience of geoscience communication or relevant research methods) provides the contextual knowledge to identify a condition and opens up a diverse, more powerful range of treatment options. Here, we expand upon the brief advice in the first editorial of Geoscience Communication (Illingworth et al., 2018), illustrating what constitutes robust and publishable work in this context, elucidating its key elements. Our aim is to help geoscience communicators plan a route to publication and to illustrate how good engagement work that is already being done might be developed into publishable research.
    • Re-naming and re-framing: Evolving the ‘Higher Education Research Group’ to the ‘Geography and Education Research Group’

      Healey, Ruth L.; West, Harry; University of Chester; University of the West of England (Wiley, 2021-10-22)
      Editorial for special issue of Area about the evolution of the Higher Education Research Group to the Geography and Education Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society.
    • Biocrusts and catchment asymmetry in Tabernas Desert (Almeria, Spain)

      Lázaro, Roberto; Calvo-Cases, Adolfo; Rodriguez-Caballero, Emilio; Arnau-Rosalén, Eva; Alexander, Roy; Rubio, Consuelo; Cantón, Yolanda; Solé-Benet, Albert; Puigdefábregas, Juan; Estacion Experimental de Zonas Aridas (CSIC); Universitat de Valencia; Universidad de Almeria; Manchester Metropolitan University; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2021-10-15)
      Catchment asymmetry is a fairly frequent phenomenon on a global scale but the main causes leading to its formation are still not well understood. Where the intervention of structural or tectonic causes is not relevant, asymmetry seems to result from differential erosion between opposite slopes that flow into the same channel, which is frequently associated with contrasted biocrust and/or vegetation covers. Biocrusts are known to be important surface stabilizing agents. However, their geomorphological consequences at the landscape scale are little known. In this study we combined field measurements with digital elevation models and image analysis to determine whether catchment asymmetry in the Tabernas Desert (semi-arid SE of Spain) is a local or general phenomenon, and to explore the main factors determining asymmetry occurrence, magnitude and direction. We pay special attention to the role of biocrusts. We found that catchment asymmetry is a very common phenomenon in the area; only 25% of the catchments are symmetrical, while approximately 40% present asymmetry with the relatively shady hillslope having a lower gradient, and 35% with that hillslope being the steeper. Solar radiation reaching the soil, surface area and channel gradient in the considered catchment stretch, as well as the total catchment area upstream from the lower point of the considered stretch were the main abiotic factors controlling the formation of the asymmetry. Microclimatic differentiation due to differences in radiation input caused by the uneven topography favoured the relative stabilization of the shadier hillslope and its colonization by biocrusts and later by plants. The effect of the biocrusts and vegetation protection against water erosion on shadier hillslopes is often stronger than that of the set of abiotic factors and gives rise to asymmetries with lower gradients in the shady hillslope by promoting lateral displacement of the channel. We hypothesised that the opposite pattern, with the sunnier hillslope having a lower gradient, occurs when abiotic factors control the development of asymmetry formation. In these conditions, the effect of biocrusts and plants would act in the opposite direction. We propose a conceptual model of feedbacks generating catchment asymmetry, with biocrust playing a crucial role.
    • Advancing rural as ‘something more than a human estate’: Exploring UK sheep-shaping

      Williams, Fiona; Halfacree, Keith; Swansea University; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2021-10-01)
      Periodically, the topic of defining rural is addressed within rural social science scholarship but done so in overwhelmingly human terms. This paper engages with this observation, arguing the simple but axiomatic point that the rural is not solely a human taxonomic creation but expresses a space that integrally and intimately involves the more-than-human. Consequently, the latter should be strongly, firmly and richly represented up-front within the defining rural debate. Adopting an established if, to date, still anthropocentricised three-fold model of rural space, the paper argues that each dimension – localities, representations, lives – feature the more-than-human in both passive and active ways. Overall, bringing more-than-human perspectives much further to the fore consolidates the idea of rural as inherently co-produced, a ‘baroque assemblage’ containing many more-than-human living things. Accounts of animals within such a rural must recognise their emplacing from a diversity of foci, interests and consequences. The paper begins to introduce details of this diverse co-production with respect to one ubiquitous rural animal, the sheep. It illustrates the ‘ensheeping’ of rural localities, representations and lives, with the practical significance of this brought together and drawn out through two rival accounts of sheep within the Lake District National Park. Finally, the seemingly modest call for rural studies to embrace animals more fully is argued to be enhanced today by ongoing and potentially imminent experiences impacting strongly on rural places.
    • Displacement in Casamance, Senegal: Lessons (Hopefully) Learned, 2000–2019

      Evans, Martin; Coventry University (Taylor & Francis, 2021-09-05)
      The paper reflects on fieldwork conducted since 2000 with displaced communities in Lower and Middle Casamance, Senegal, amid arguably West Africa’s longest-running civil conflict. While this is a small conflict in a geographically confined space, Casamance presents a microcosm of dynamics common to other displacement situations in Africa. In this context the paper explores how the understandings, lived experiences and practices of the displaced transcend normative categories used by aid actors to define and manage such situations. Five thematic areas are examined: enumeration of the displaced; complex mobilities, both rural-urban and transnational; historiographic understandings of displacement; political manipulation of displacement situations; and the dynamics of return and reconstruction. The paper concludes by summarising failures of understanding in these areas among much of the aid community, and their consequences. It argues that well-grounded and socially nuanced understandings of displacement may inform more effective aid interventions and enhance the peace process.
    • Ambivalent storage, multi-scalar generosity, and challenges of/for everyday consumption

      Collins, Rebecca; Stanes, Elyse; University of Chester; University of Wollongong (Taylor and Francis, 2021-09-05)
      Storage plays an important role in domestic practices as a banal yet essential means of practically accomplishing ‘living together’ and caring for people and material ‘stuff’. However, storage and stored things also occupy a provocative and paradoxical place in debates around the sustainability of household consumption. Driven by renewed popular and scholarly attention to ‘decluttering’ and eschewing anything that does not ‘spark joy’, this paper considers the emotional and practical implications of generosity – as both concept and practice – in articulating the sustainability potential in storage and stored things. In so doing we problematise assumptions about ‘clutter’ as unsustainable. Drawing on vignettes from two projects concerned with material consumption in young adulthood, and drawing on – but going beyond – extant framings of geographies of care, we illustrate how shifting spatial and temporal liminalities of storage mediate opportunities to engage in and with different scales of generosity. We argue that spatialities of storage are often less about deferring acts of divestment than they are a space in which to situate materialisations of significant emotional, care-ful(l) connections. We reflect on the implications of storage for sustainable consumption in the home and suggest how future work drawing on geographies of generosity might usefully enrich our understanding.
    • Geography and Virtual Reality

      Bos, Daniel; University of Chester (Wiley, 2021-08-16)
      Whilst virtual reality (VR) has a long history, recent technological advancements, increased accessibility and affordability have seen its usage become widespread within western consumer society. Despite the relevance of VR to Geography, these more recent developments have escaped scholarly attention. This paper takes a critical perspective on the development of VR and its varied applications, and how emerging theoretical debates within cultural and digital geography can critically attend to the social and cultural implications of VR technologies. The paper begins by considering how VR spaces are imagined and communicated to publics in ways that promote popular understandings of, and desires for, virtual spaces. Next, the paper critically addresses the cultural politics of VR content, particularly drawing attention to the socio-spatial differences evoked through VR. The paper goes on to argue for the need to consider VR through the concept of interface as a way of critically attending to the broader techno-socio relations and the embodied spatial encounters they produce. Finally, some methodological implications for thinking with and through VR are outlined.
    • How to persuade and influence people: The art of effective geographical debate

      Healey, Ruth; Leatham, Chloe; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2021-05-27)
      This article supports students to prepare to participate in a debate. We consider thorough preparation as the foundation for effective debate. Here we provide guidance on one approach to preparing as effectively as possible. We outline this before considering three key elements to this method of preparation: 1) substance: your knowledge and understanding of the debate topic; 2) style: how to present your points clearly and succinctly; and 3) persuasion: how through both substance and style you effectively persuade people of your argument. We conclude by summarising the key points raised in this guide and identifying how they apply to other assignment contexts. The discussion that follows uses the debate topic ‘Should an additional charge be applied to all single-use plastics?’ to demonstrate the approaches we suggest.
    • The city‐island‐state, wounding cascade, and multi‐level vulnerability explored through the lens of Malta

      Main, Geoff; orcid: 0000-0001-8453-1527; email: g.main@exeter.ac.uk; Schembri, John; Speake, Janet; Gauci, Ritienne; Chester, David (2021-05-06)
      In this paper, we introduce the concept of “city‐island‐state” into a discussion of small highly urbanised islands. We place the “city” at the forefront of our analysis by bringing together the geographies of the “city” and “state,” together with a wider discussion of factors that may cause both the wounding of the city and an increase in the precariousness of the “island.” We apply this concept to the advanced city‐island‐state of Malta (Central Mediterranean), which is a densely populated, urbanised small island archipelago with about 500,000 inhabitants and operates as a single city with an urban core, suburbs, and a rural hinterland that is rapidly decreasing in size. This city‐island‐state is frequently considered as being “safe” from external geophysical, climatic, and anthropogenic wounding, but, in reality, Malta, as a city, an island, and an independent nation‐state, is faced with multiple internal and external pressures that increase its precariousness and vulnerability to such externalities. Some of these are socio‐economic, but others are environmental. We argue that the potential for wounding is particularly marked in Malta, that it is exacerbated by the contemporary globalised neoliberal world of flows and interconnectivities, and that this represents a multi‐level wounding cascade: wounding the city wounds the island and, by extension, the state.
    • Using virtual reality (VR) for teaching and learning in geography: fieldwork, analytical skills, and employability

      Bos, Daniel; Servel, Miller; Eloise, Bull; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2021-03-22)
      This article outlines how Virtual Reality (VR) technologies, software and content can be used as a resource for teaching and learning in Geography. Drawing on the authors’ first-hand experiences of using VR for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, we explore firstly how VR can enhance the development of fieldwork observational techniques, knowledge and understanding of place, prior to entering the field. Secondly, we show how VR can be used to enable students to develop critical analytical skills in relation to emergent visual technologies and the wider implications VR has for the representation of people, places and landscapes. Finally, the article will attend to the ways VR and Augmented Reality (AR) – due to its growing industrial application – can offer important opportunities for the development of unique practical employability skills which can be applied to the geovisualization of data and environments enhancing graduate career prospects.
    • Great Games and Keeping it Cool: New political, social and cultural geographies of young people’s environmental activism

      Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2020-11-30)
      Drawing on recent framings of young people’s environmental activism as a ‘game’, alongside long-standing characterisations of youth as responsibilised environmental change-agents, in this Viewpoint I identify fertile research opportunities in the liminal spaces between moments of young people’s action and the political and socio-cultural spaces through which those actions (might) diffuse. I argue that youth geographers should take care to engage critically with young activists’ actions, as well as wider political and cultural responses to them, in order to avoid furthering problematic ‘sustainability saviour’ framings of youth.
    • Persistent millennial-scale climate variability in Southern Europe during Marine Isotope Stage 6

      WILSON, GRAHAM PAUL; FROGLEY, MICHAEL; HUGHES, PHILIP; ROUCOUX, KATHERINE; MARGARI, VASILIKI; JONES, TIM; LENG, MELANIE; TZEDAKIS, POLYCHRONIS; University of Chester; University College London (Elsevier, 2020-11-11)
      Exploring the mode and tempo of millennial-scale climate variability under evolving boundary conditions can provide insights into tipping points in different parts of the Earth system, and can facilitate a more detailed understanding of climate teleconnections and phase relationships between different Earth system components. Here we use fossil diatom and stable carbon and oxygen isotope analysis of lake sediment deposits (core I-284) from the Ioannina basin, NW Greece, to explore in further detail millennial-scale climate instability in southern Europe during Marine Isotope Stage 6 (MIS 6; ca. 185‒130 ka). This interval correlates with the Vlasian Stage in Greece and the Late Saalian Substage in northern Europe, which were both characterised by extensive glaciations. The new dataset resolves at least 18 discrete warmer / wetter intervals, many of which were associated with strong Asian Monsoon events and North Atlantic interstadials. A number of cooler / drier intervals are also identified in the I-284 record, which are typically associated with weaker Asian Monsoon events and North Atlantic stadials, consistent with a variable Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Unlike the subdued changes in tree populations that are observed at Ioannina during mid-to-late MIS 6, the diatom record contains frequent high-amplitude oscillations in species assemblages, pointing to its sensitivity at a time when the lake system must have been close to environmental thresholds. Millennial-scale variability in diatom species assemblages continues into late MIS 6 at Ioannina, contributing important evidence for an emerging picture of frequent and persistent climate instability even at times of high global ice volume.
    • The history of the Higher Education Research Group of the UK Royal Geographical Society: The changing status and focus of geography education in the academy

      Healey, Ruth L.; France, Derek; Hill, Jennifer; West, Harry; University of Chester; University of Gloucestershire; University of the West of England (Wiley, 2020-11-11)
      The opening paper in our special section sets the scene for the discussions that follow by evidencing and reflecting upon the history of the Higher Education Research Group. We report on the purpose of the Group when it was established in the late 1970s as the Higher Education Learning Working Party, and trace its development to late 2019 when its members voted to change the name of the Group to the Geography and Education Research Group. Through a systematic analysis of the annual reports published in Area (from 1980 to 1994) and the minutes of the Annual General Meetings (from 1998 to 2019), alongside personal correspondence with former members of the Committee, we explore the history of the Group. We contend that the Group has passed through four distinct phases related to the broader geography and education context. The recent re-naming of the Group to publicly codify and celebrate the diversity of links between geography and education represents a fifth phase in the Group’s evolution. Throughout its history, the Group has had strong connections with geographies (and geographers) of education across a range of sectoral levels, indicating that this fifth evolutionary phase aligns well with the Group’s original purpose and vision.
    • Popular geopolitics ‘beyond the screen’: Bringing Modern Warfare to the city

      Bos, Daniel; University of Chester (SAGE Publications, 2020-07-16)
      Popular culture – in this case military-themed videogames – has been argued to mould and shape popular understandings of the geopolitics of the ‘war on terror’. To date, most attention has been focused on the geopolitical representations of a ‘final’ popular cultural text or object. Less attention has been paid to how popular understandings of geopolitics and military violence have been constructed and commodified prior to, and ‘beyond the screen’. Empirically, the paper examines the marketing campaign of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Through the use of experiential marketing, I show how the game’s launch night incorporated spectacular displays, performances and consumer interactions to sell the pleasures of virtual war by drawing on geopolitical fears of terrorism and military violence within major Western cities. Firstly, I demonstrate how marketing engaged with and transformed urban spaces extending the popular geopolitics of virtual war. Secondly, the paper reveals how experiential marketing targeted and encouraged connections with and between attendees’ bodies. Thirdly, I demonstrate how such events promote geopolitical encounters which extend beyond the temporal and the spatial confines of the marketing event itself. Ultimately, the paper reveals how urban fears surrounding the global ‘war on terror’ were employed to sell the pleasures and geopolitics of virtual war.
    • Auto-ethnography: Managing Multiple Embodiments in the Life Drawing Class

      Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (Manchester University Press, 2020-04-30)
      There has been growing interest in the role of sketching, drawing, and other forms of artistic and/or creative practice as a research method within (and beyond) the social sciences. In such projects researchers have been firmly, often deeply, embedded in their practice, either as long-standing practitioners of their chosen art or craft, or as curious newcomers. In this chapter I consider how auto-ethnography, as a state of ‘reflexive-thinking-being’, employed here within a space of artistic activity (life drawing classes), has enabled me to explore geographies of bodies, nudity, sexuality and intimacy by moving – physically, conceptually and recursively – between moments of the mundane to instances of the spectacular. Consideration of how touch, smell, gesture, as well as different kinds of looking – all of which are fundamental to the work and practice of a life class – is drawn into an analysis of how the act of (re)producing bodies, inside and outside the life class, mediates body-space relations.
    • Using historical source data to understand urban flood risk: a socio-hydrological modelling application at Gregorio Creek, Brazil

      Ana Carolina, Sarmento Buarque; Bhattacharya-Mis, Namrata; Fava, Maria Clara; Souza, Felipe Augusto Arguello de; Mendiondo, Eduardo Mario; University of Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2020-04-24)
      The city of São Carlos, state of São Paulo, Brazil, has a historical coexistence between society and floods. Unplanned urbanization in this area is a representative feature of how Brazilian cities have developed, undermining the impact of natural hazards. The Gregório Creek catchment is an enigma of complex dynamics concerning the relationship between humans and water in Brazilian cities. Our hypothesis is that social memory of floods can improve future resilience. In this paper we analyse flood risk dynamics in a small urban catchment, identify the impacts of social memory on building resilience and propose measures to reduce the risk of floods. We applied a socio-hydrological model using data collected from newspapers from 1940 to 2018. The model was able to elucidate human–water processes in the catchment and the historical source data proved to be a useful tool to fill gaps in the data in small urban basins.