CfP: Geography, Technology and Instruments of Exploration, c. 1780-c. 1960. A Programme of Three Research Workshops (Various dates. Deadline: 26 August 2011)
‘Geography, Technology and Instruments of Exploration’ is an 18-month British Academy-funded research project (July 2011–December 2012) hosted by the Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh and involving the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) in London as co-hosts.
The research project, to be undertaken via a programme of three workshops, is informed by the concern that, within geography and the history of geography, scholars have neglected the material and instrumental bases to exploration. Exploration scholarship has been attentive to the insights of the history of science, less to those from the history of technology. Researchers have studied the rhetoric of exploration and narratives of travel and exploration, yet such accounts also demonstrate the fallibility of instruments in the field. How has technology had an impact upon the nature, type and conduct of geographical exploration? What, indeed, should count as an ‘instrument’ of (geographical) exploration? Hand-held precision devices (about which much instructional literature exists but for which there are many narratives detailing in-the-field failure), or should instruments of exploration embrace the mundane such as clothing and equipment – or look to the larger-scale – the ship, the aircraft or the rocket?
The project centres around three research workshops: the first and third to be held in Edinburgh (at the Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh), the second in the Royal Geographical Society in London. Meetings are timed for 7 December 2011 (Edinburgh); 16 May 2012 (London); 20 October 2012.
- Workshop 1: ‘What is an instrument of exploration?’. Here, we propose attention to what counts as an ‘instrument of exploration’ and to consider connections between the history of technology, history of science, book history and the history of geography and geographical exploration.
- Workshop 2: ‘Research resources for a history of instruments of exploration’. Here, we propose a focus on the holdings of leading institutions (e.g., National Maritime Museum, Royal Geographical Society, Science Museum, National Museum of Scotland) with a ‘steer’ from curator-historians of technology.
- Workshop 3: ‘Research possibilities and opportunities’. Given the recent strategic directions of RCUK and associated bodies for fewer and larger grants and for collaborative funding, it is clear that working together is both vital and likely to bring greater reward. In addition to focused papers, we will identify opportunities for collaborative networks and sustaining this initiative.
A draft title and an abstract (300 words max.) should be sent, as an email attachment, to Dr Fraser MacDonald (Fraser.MacDonald@ed.ac.uk) Institute of Geography, University of Edinburgh, Drummond Street, Edinburgh EH8 9XP by Friday 26 August 2011. For more information about the project contact either Fraser or Charles Withers (C.W.J.Withers@ed.ac.uk).