Reinvigorating social and cultural geography: a conference

In 2000 the journal Social and Cultural Geography was launched and the first edition included agenda setting papers. For example the oft-cited Jackson (2000) on rematerialising geography. Please find below a call for papers that encourages a reflection on where our sub-discipline has been and where it is going:

Reinvigorating Social Geography: the politics and praxis of Social and Cultural Geography in the UK


A two-day conference of the Social and Cultural Geography Research Group of the RGS-IBG


University of Brighton
30-31 January 2009


The main aim of the conference is to provide a supportive, collegiate and stimulating environment to explore ‘what’ and ‘where’ are the contemporary social geographies within the context of the Social and Cultural nexus.  Often viewed as an exciting and progressive sub-discipline of British and European geography, the conference seeks to ‘take-stock’ of the positionality of social geography, as Social and Cultural Geography becomes increasingly mainstream.  A significant presence at RGS/IBG conferences, combined with a marked growth in journals, books and monographs, undergraduate dissertations, and specialised Masters programmes in this area, is testament to the penetration of Social and Cultural Geography across a range of academic arenas. 
Yet as the reach of the sub-discipline continues to extend, there are ‘mutterings’ of a possible divorcement between different strands of the research group, arguably often based on perceptions and hearsay.  In light of these recent informal discourses and the possible, inter-linked, forging of new research groups, the conference provides a timely opportunity to explore the general health of relations within the Social and Cultural Geography nexus.   Fruitful, and potentially, provocative themes which delegates may wish to discuss are:


  • What and where is contemporary social geography?
  • How important are individual, self-definitional markers of the members of Social and Cultural Geography?
  • How are social geographers now defined by ‘others’ outside of the research group?
  • Where does social geography currently fit within the context of Social and Cultural Geography, and the wider disciplinary boundaries of human geography?
  • Have the set(s) of practices employed by social geographers changed over the last decade, and, if so, how have they changed?
  • Have the overlapping interests of social geography with other sub-disciplines of human geography been re-cast over the last decade?
  • Are perceptions of the marginalisation of some streams within Social and Cultural Geography accurate?
  • How inclusive / exclusive are Social and Cultural geographies?
  • Are social and cultural geographies inseparable?
  • Is there substance to some interpretations of the ‘policing of sub-disciplinary boundaries’ within the Social and Cultural nexus?
  • Are discussions of internal conflicts harmful for the vitality of Social and Cultural Geography, or simply evidence of a vibrant and active research group?
  • Is a deep splintering of sub-groups unfolding within Social and Cultural Geography?
  • Does the current mission of the Social and Cultural Research Group provide a meaningful base for social geographers?
  • How do social geographers currently interface with other sub-disciplines of human geography?
  • Are social geographers increasingly multi-positional within human geography, and is this linked to the activities of the Social and Cultural Geography Research Group?
  • Should social geography be restricted to analyses of social relations?


Papers/presentations are sought which focus on one or more of the themes, outlined above. 


The event will include short interventions from panellists, drawn from Social and Cultural Geography.  Confirmed panel speakers include Rachel Pain, Phil Hubbard, Sophie Bowlby, Anoop Nayak, Peter Hopkins.


Please send abstracts or expressions of interest, before the end of September 2008, to one of the conference organisers:


Darren Smith (
David Bissell (


Attendance by postgraduate and research students at the conference is encouraged, and travel/registration bursaries will be available. 


Details of the conference venue, accommodation and registration will be provided at a later date.

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