The annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society and the Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IGB) is beginning tomorrow, and I am really looking forward to hosting the double session on the theme of absence. We have excellent scholars presenting and serving as discussants so if you happen to be around, make sure to drop by!
Posts Tagged ‘RGS’
I am happy to announce that I will be co-organizing a session at next year’s RGS-IBG conference in London (September 1-3). Here is the text of the call for papers:
Convenors: Lars Frers (University of Oslo); Lars Meier (Institute for Employment Research, Nürnberg); Erika Sigvardsdotter (Uppsala University)
What is missing, for whom and why? How does that, which is absent, relate to the things and people that are present? In this session we wish to engage with the intersections of the material and emotional qualities of absence, focussing on the fact that absence is all but a void, manifesting itself in concrete places, people and things; that it is embodied and enacted.
To feel something’s absence, it needs to be part of a temporal pattern, it has to be a part of what is expected; something that used to be present. A factory is shut down, workers gone, and with them the sounds and smells of work. Yet all of these sensual experiences may be evoked by a whiff of a machine’s scent, by a familiar chink or a rusty tool laying around. Exploring the materiality of absence, we want to improve the understanding of how remembrances of things past and people gone are realized in things and people present. Establishing absence may also be part or result of power-related negotiations. As legal residuals of border regulation, irregular migrants are absent in a jurisdiction; off the grid, uncountable and unable to complain if abused or exploited. Yet, their presence is unquestionable. Although being able to exercise that presence may be a long term goal, absence – from conspicuous places, from view and immigration officer’s radars, can be a situational tactic necessary for their survival. However, managing absence, controlling the traces and the materialities that might make the absent present can also be a long-term strategy. Research into climate change can be understood as work trying to overcome the resistance of the material by digging up traces that show that something is there even it may usually be absent.
The absence–presence ambivalence can be worked in various ways; a presence suggesting the absent, the seemingly absent becoming present in flesh and blood, or as a merely suggested, ghostlike presence.
Possible session topics:
- Remembrances: Emotions, memory and the materiality of absence.
- Contestations of what and who is absent/present.
- Practices and the managing of absence.
In the session, we want to discuss different characteristics of absence and their interrelations. To achieve this we will focus on concrete experiences and examples of absence and we welcome presentations that display the sensual and material qualities of absence.
Please submit a 300 word abstract for a 20 minute presentation (including title, presenter’s name and affiliation) before 31st January 2010 to:
Route interruptus. A Study of Fatigue, Erosion and other material agencies at rest stops of the Norwegian Tourist Route.Monday, August 31st, 2009
This week, I found myself in Manchester once more. I was called to port by the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS–IBG), which might just be my favorite disciplanary organisation conference. Small enough to allow one to meet people frequently, diverse enough to collect many different approaches, and – in the fields of interest for me – open for risky submissions, non-standard formats and innovative presentations. In addition, you will usually find a session or two where people speak very openly about the difficulties of their field work – both on an intellectual but, even more important, also on an emotional level. I guess most of these kinds of sessions are convened and chaired by female researchers that are still in the first decade of their careers… hopefully this is not only an age-related thing but a generational change that continues even when people advance further in their academic standing.
This is what I talked about:
Things, people, and information do not flow without resistances. In this presentation, I will delve into the bodily and material aspects of mobility, displaying how bodily fatigue and the erosion of matter intersect at rest stops along the Norwegian Tourist Route. On this route, the impressive fjord landscape is framed and presented to the travelers at several rest stops that have been artistically designed. Combining video analysis and photography with ethnographic fieldwork, the study focuses on the mundane everyday life, on the resistances as well as the attractions that guide the perception and action of those who spend some time at these places. Particular attention will also be paid to the ways in which the practices that happen at this place change the place itself – situationally but also in a slower, long-term process that will be explored by quasi-archeological investigations into the traces and the detritus that gather at these places. Thus it will be shown how material and bodily processes challenge and undermine the framed presentation of landscape – but it will also be shown that these processes bear a potential of delightful pleasures, unintended uses, and subtle reconfigurations of the socio-spatial order of these places.
Last week, I moved most of my everyday stuff to Oslo, where I will be a guest researcher at the University until the end of this year. The last days I was in Berlin, most of the time cleaning the apartment and packing the rest of my belongings. But I also took the time to participate in the performance festival Abwehr, organized by Svenja Moor and Shahram Entekhabi (officially as a discussant but in truth more as a photographer – which suited me fine). The locations of this festival Wachturm and Kunstfabrik were excellent and I think the whole thing worked out really fine. You can read more about this festival in Stralau-Blog (in German). You can also see more about this festival. In my ipernity album.
Tomorrow, I will buzz off again. This time going to the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society in London. I’ve been there last year and enjoyed it quite a bit. This year, Katie Walsh and I will host a session, to which I am looking forward very much. Except for the fact that we have been put into the last time slot of the conference: Friday 16:50–18:30. I wonder how many people will make it through a whole week of dense and stimulating sessions, beverage-laden evening programmes and then still attend some session late Friday afternoon, when they
should be heading home to tea and biscuit…
On Saturday, though, I will finally enter port: Oslo. *sigh* And there I will stay with only one interruption until the end of the year. That’s what I call a welcome prospect!
My proposal for the session on
Landscape, Mobility and Practice has been accepted, allowing me to participate in the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG) in London. Following is the abstract on which my presentation will be based:
This presentation will accompany people who use railway and ferry terminals, demonstrating how the materiality of these terminals interacts with people’s movements, their bodies and perceptions. The terminal itself is located at an intriguing juncture between travel and rest, between movement and pause. It is both a place of rushing through and of lingering or loitering. Based on ethnographic observations and many hours of video recordings, both subtle details of bodily arrangement and spatial relations on the scale of the terminal as a whole are examined from a phenomenological perspective. How do the practices of people in the terminal reconfigure the socio-spatial constellations that permeate these places? How does the rigidity of walls, rails, gangways and doors participate in the production of localised normalities? These questions will be answered by examining sensual experiences and material practices. Perceiving their environment by sight, hearing, smell and touch, opening doors, managing bodily movements, interacting with machines, displays and people – a wide array of subtle but powerful practices produces the dynamic socio-spatial setting that is the terminal.
I am very happy to finally be visiting London – the city about which I read more than about any other city, but that I never visited in spite of the relative ease of getting there. So many novels, so many remembrances about a place I have never seen with my own eyes…