Care & The Academy- 10th May 2019

The Developing Areas Research Group (DARG) and the Gender & Feminist Geographies Research Group (GFGRG) invite you to work with us to improve policy and practice for care and academic work. We invite  both physical and human geographers, all genders, to join us at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) on May 10th 2019 to develop best practice guidelines for funders, in regards to balancing care responsibilities with fieldwork and parental leave. There will be time to broaden our scope and identify further initiatives, depending on discussions over the day. 

Full details can be found on our websites but, in brief, over three focused sessions we will develop best-practice guidelines and policy recommendations for funding bodies. The three sessions will cover:

·      seeking explicit and clear guidelines for funding the cost of children’s travel and care during fieldwork.

·      to secure parental leave for post-doctoral researchers and research fellows, for example rather than the current situation of reduced research time for many women because of maternity leave.

·      to discuss other dynamics of care and academia, for example best practice on flexible working for men.

This day is focused on developing guidelines collectively, which DARG and GFGR will then approach funding bodies with. However, we will organize a follow-up (and discussion-based) session for the 2019 RGS-IBG Annual Conference – building on work done by DARG and by Dr Claire Hann and Dr Jennie Middleton, University of Oxford. 

This workshop will be on May 10th and run from 10am-4pm. Lunch will be provided. We have a number of bursaries to cover travel costs for those on temporary contracts. If interested in attending, please contact Jessica Hope ( and Rosie Cox (

DARG Sponsored Sessions at the 2019 RGS Annual Conference

Please find below our DARG sponsored sessions for the RGS (with IBG) Annual Conference. Contact details and information about how to submit an abstract for the sessions are included below.

1. Amazonian geographies of the past and the future

Session Convenors Nina Laurie, Anna Macphie and Katherine Roucoux, School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews, Scotland.

Session Sponsors: Developing Areas Research Group

Supported by Latin American Geographies in the UK (LAG-UK)

Amazonia is once again emerging as an important focus for geographical research – science debates over climate change and new economic geographies of resource extraction are increasingly engaging with the rights of nature, indigenous ontologies and notions of ‘living well’. Often labelled, (and argueably mislabelled?) ‘post-neoliberal’, these agendas are shaping understandings of potential shared futures for our planet. Along with this forward looking perspective, there has also been a renewed interest in historical geographies of frontiers, tropicality and past and present forms of exploration, as well as attention to archaeologies of pre-conquest populations – their mobilities and livelihoods. Together all these research themes amount to a growing, general interest in ways of living and being in Amazonia. This work is forging interdisciplinary trajectories, seeking to engage diverse audiences both within human and physical geography as well as with Geography’s allied disciplines in the sciences, social sciences and arts. These initiatives are spawning new types of funding, research collaborations and ‘communities of practice’. New methodological conversations are taking place at the interface of these agendas and an interest in the possibilities generated by advances in drone technology and remote sensing sit along-side a renewed appreciation for ethnographic endeavour and archive work. Participatory methods are now part of the suite of skills seen as core in approaches that range from ethnobotany and ecosystems mapping to oral histories, paleoecology and new forms of engaging communities in digital media and visual anthropology.  This session seeks to attract papers from across the full spectrum of geographical research currently being conducted in and on Amazonia in order to explore what a renewed critical area studies has to offer understanding of Geographies of Trouble / Geographies of Hope in this multiply-produced and complexly layered region. 

Please send abstracts (or queries) to Anna Macphie (

And/or Nina Laurie (, Katherine Roucoux (

Deadline 4th Feb. Please include:

  • A title for your presentation;
  • An abstract of max 150 words;
  • Your preference of either a paper presentation or a snapshot presentation;
  • Your name, affiliation and contact details (email address).

2. RGS/IBG CFP Development geography’s ‘creative turn’: reconfiguring power and partnership?

We’re seeking abstracts for a proposed panel session at the 2019 Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Annual Conference, sponsored by the Developing Areas Research Group (DARG). 

Convenors: Dr Deirdre McKay (Keele University, UK) and Dr Amanda Rogers (Swansea University, UK)

Sponsor: DARG

Cultural production is difficult to disentangle from its political context. Culture has long been instrumentalised to build nations, whether through colonialist representations of the ‘other’ or security-driven creative agendas. Creative methods and cultural production increasingly appear at the forefront of new modes of action, not only in marketing, opinion-shaping, but in collaborative research and development outreach. 

Geographers working in collaboration with colleagues in the global South need to think carefully about the role creativity – broadly understood – plays in their research collaborations. Extending on Hawkins critical perspectives on the creative turn (2018), this panels explores the implications of creativity driven by interests in the global North in the experience of the global South. We ask:

What does it mean, in practice, to co-create research?  

When academics, governments, and colleagues in the third and creative sector find themselves increasingly asked to engage        research design focussed on creative processes and outcomes intended to deliver social impact, does this creativity work to decolonise research relationships? Or does the creative turn have a dark side (Cropley et al, 2010) generating new risks, expectations, obligations, and forms of bureaucracy to undermine equitable partnerships? 

Could creative approaches to art, dance, theatre, film, sculpture, music and digital production be used to fuel inequality or justify authoritarian regimes? Who can harness ‘creative power’? 

Do the processes and products of creativity drive some people apart and pull others together? 

How are creative methods being called upon to interpret contested issues and antagonistic politics? 

We invite panellists to reflect on the ways creative methods structure relationships and narratives in research and  governance. This reflection could encompass co-created projects using innovative approaches to:

  • film
  • theatre
  • art
  • digital media 
  • dance
  • photography 
  • exhibitions
  • other creative formats 

We especially encourage perspectives from scholars who have experience as research partners in institutions and charities from the Global South.

Cropley, David et al. (2010) The dark side of creativity. Cambridge.

Hawkins, Harriet (2018) Geography’s creative (re)turn: Toward a critical framework. Progress in Human Geography (early view)

Abstracts of up to 250 words – by 13th February 2019.

3. Europe and marginality: Decolonising policy on refugees and peripheries

Session convenors: Cyril Blondel and Lucas Oesch, University of Luxembourg

Decolonial perspectives “rethink modernity and its darker side –coloniality– on a global scale” (Tlostanova and Mignolo, 2009). This approach has been developed by Global South scholars questioning Northern/Western positionality in relation to the South/East of the world. Less often does this approach reflect on the North/West conception of its own internal otherness. This is precisely the object of this session, which aims to analyse the positioning of Europe towards both its spatial and social internal marginalisation using decolonial perspectives. More precisely, this session targets two symbolic figures of marginality: 1) refugees coming to Europe and; 2) the peripheries of Europe. We will focus on the policies directed at them (such as for instance the Common European Asylum System, the Enlargement and Neighbourhood policy, national policies, etc). The goal of the session is not to evaluate these policies per se, but to discuss how cultural producers –researchers, journalists, political leaders (Wacquant, 2007)– analyse these issues. How is policy conceived, set in words, put in practice, discussed and researched? To what extent do European policies, and the ways these policies are framed and analysed, participate in the reproduction of the stereotypes on the marginalised people and territories? In particular, which figures of modernity (Tlostanova and Mignolo, 2012) are invoked in order to justify, validitate and legitimise European interventions? How do marginalised populations (refugees) and territories (peripheries) either accept, endure or contest these policies? Finally, are there any alternative voices emerging from the borderlands or marginalised people questioning these policies? 

This session welcomes theoretical, epistemological and/or empirically based studies on topics ranging from, but not limited to:

  • Critical assessment of (research on) refugee policy in Europe (such as the Common European Asylum System–CEAS, national policies, etc.) and/or on their implementation;
  • Comparative or transversal research on refugee policies across Europe and the Global South, and especially on refugee reception;
  • Critical assessment of (research on) the European Neighborhood and Enlargement Policy and/or on its implementation in concerned states;
  • Critical discussion of (research on) the EU Cohesion Policy and of other European national policies towards “less developed” or peripheral regions and/or on their implementation.

Titles, abstracts of no more than 200 words, affiliations and emails of each author, should be sent to both Cyril Blondel ( and Lucas Oesch ( by 21 January 2019. We will notify the authors of selected papers by 28 January 2019.

4. Infrastructure and Citizenship: (de)constructing state-society relations 

Panel convenors: Charlotte Lemanski (University of Cambridge) and Jon Phillips (University of Cambridge) 

Research Group sponsorship: UGRG, DARG, PGRG

Within urban geography, infrastructure has become a core lens for understanding the city, whereby infrastructure is conceptualised as a technical or physical representation of socio- political processes (e.g. Graham and Marvin 2001; Amin 2014, Coutard & Rutherford 2015). Similarly, citizenship is promoted within political and development geography as vital for understanding socio-political life, emphasising the role played by citizen action rather than legal rules per se (e.g. Painter and Philo 1995; Isin and Nielson 2008; Staeheli 2010; Cornwall et al 2011; Staeheli et al 2012). Recent scholarship has begun to interrogate how infrastructure can mediate and manifest state-society relations (Lemanski 2019); Or, how citizens’ access and use of infrastructure affects, and is affected by, their citizenship identity and practice. Yet, despite the growth in critical studies of urban infrastructure, the multiple ways that citizenship and infrastructure relate in diverse urban settings has received limited critical attention. 

We invite papers that explore relationships between infrastructure and citizenship, as socio- technical and legal-political ways through which urban space, institutions, processes and people are governed. We encourage papers that embrace the everyday perspectives of the urban dwellers and state representatives who inhabit the material (infrastructural) and political (citizenship) spaces of the city. And we welcome critical engagement with concepts of both citizenship and infrastructure. The session is planned in a standard paper format, inviting papers that may be primarily theoretical and/or empirical, and could be based on comparative or singular case studies from around the world. 

Please submit a 250-word abstract (plus title, author, affiliation and email address) to Jon ( and Charlotte ( by 1st February 2019. 

References cited 

  • Amin, A., 2014. Lively Infrastructure. Theory, Culture and Society, v. 31, p.137-161
  • Cornwall, A., Robins, S., and von Lieres, B., 2011, ‘States of Citizenship: Contexts and Cultures 
  • of Public Engagement and Citizen Action’, IDS working paper 363, pp1-32.
  • Coutard O & Rutherford J (eds). 2015. Beyond the Networked City: Infrastructure Reconfigurations and 
  • Urban Change in the North and South. London: Routledge.
  • Graham, S. and Marvin, S., 2001, Splintering Urbanism: Networked infrastructures and the Urban 
  • Condition: Networked Infrastructures, Technological Mobilites and the Urban Condition, Routledge, London Isin, E.F. and Nielsen, G.M. (Eds.), 2008, Acts of Citizenship, Zed Books, London. 
  • Lemanski, C. (Ed.), 2019, Infrastructures of citizenship: practices and identities of urban citizens and the state, Routledge: Abingdon. 
  • Painter, J. and Philo, C., 1995, ‘Spaces of citizenship: and introduction’, Political Geography 14(2), pp107-120 
  • Staeheli, L., 2010, ‘Political geography: where’s citizenship?’, Progress in Human Geography, 35(3), pp393 – 400 
  • Staeheli, L.A., Ehrkamp, P., Leitner, H. and Nagel, C.R., 2012, “Dreaming of the Ordinary: Citizenship and the Complex Geographies of Daily Life.” Progress in Human Geography, 36: 627- 643. 

5. CFP: “Secondary Cities” in the Global South

Sponsored by:  Developing Areas Research Group (DARG)

Convenors:  Nina Gribat and Christian Rosen (TU Darmstadt)

In recent years, “secondary cities” have (re-)emerged as a distinct urban category, which is connected to a range of hopes in the context of international development such as decentralisation, economic growth or poverty reduction (Roberts 2014). Based on analyses of urban systems and hierarchies as well as normative concerns for balanced economic and spatial development, secondary cities were (and are largely) constructed as strategic sites for policy intervention and development (Rondinelli 1983 a,b). Conversely, secondary cities are also considered as possible sites for alternative urban futures beyond world and global cities (DeBoeck et al. 2010). Diverse approaches to defining secondary cities have established: from considering absolute numbers of inhabitants, positions or functional relevance in urban systems to gauging them as ideal contexts for economic growth, health, education, politics and culture.  

This session seeks to contribute to the debate on global and comparative urbanisms (Robinson and Roy 2016), by: (i) critically examining the various formations and possible contestations of an urban category that is underpinned by different normative and universalising tendencies; and (ii) exploring the actual tensions between decentralisation policies and local autonomy and actual practices and policies in diverse urban contexts beyond metropolises. 

Contributions are welcome but not limited to the following topics:

  • archaeologies and other critical analyses of the secondary city concept: In which contexts has it emerged, how did it change over time, which actors use it and how?
  • comparative methodologies of examining secondary cities in the Global South: How to deal with the challenges of lacking data, instable governance arrangements and varying geographical and political conditions in different states? Do urban contexts beyond the usual focus on metropolises pose new methodological challenges?
  • case studies that examine tensions between decentralisation and autonomy
  • analyses of the conflicts of state-spatial decentralisation processes, which address issues of political stability and resources in secondary cities 
  • examinations of civil society and social movements beyond metropolises or megacities in the Global South
  • economic development: Which economic growth paths are considered as successful? How do these reflect specific local conditions?
  • explorations of locally-specific approaches to reduce poverty and inequality, deliver public infrastructure and improve planning processes: 

How do secondary cities address such issues? What are the similarities and differences between different cities’ approaches?

Please submit an abstract of 250 words to Nina Gribat ( and Christian Rosen ( by 10th February 2019. If you have any questions do get in touch!


  • De Boeck, Filip, Cassiman, Ann and Van Wolputte, Steven. (2010). Recentering the City: An Anthropology of Secondary Cities in Africa. In: Karel A (ed.) Afrizcan Perspectives 2009. The African City: (Re)sourced, University of Pretoria. Department of Architecture; Pretoria (South Africa): 33-1
  • Roberts, Brian H. (2014) Managing Systems of Secondary Cities: Policy Responses in International Development, Cities Alliance/UNOPS, Brussels. 
  • Rondinelli, Dennis A. (1983a) Secondary cities in developing countries: policies for diffusing urbanization, Beverly Hills, Sage Publications.
  • Rondinelli, Dennis A. (1983b) Dynamics of Growth of Secondary Cities in Developing Countries, Geographical Review, Vol. 73, No. 1: 42-57.
  • Robinson, Jennifer and Roy, Ananya (2016) Debate on Global Urbanisms and the Nature of Urban Theory, IJURR, Vol. 40, No. 1: 181-186.

6. Political Ecologies of Green Energy: troubling the realities of being green 

Convenors: Dr Jessica Hope & Dr Ed Atkins, University of Bristol

Sponsored by DARG & ENGRG

The 2015 Paris Agreement binds world leaders to a commitment to keep global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius this century. If this is not achieved, climate scientists predict significant disruptions to earth systems that will radically alter life as we know it (IPCC 2018). In this context, green energy offers hope. Firstly, as moving away from fossil fuels is crucial for reducing carbon emissions. Secondly, as green energy offers opportunities for a revised politics of energy and an alternative material basis for social, environmental and political life. However, the transformative potential offered by green energies is troubled by continuing patterns of exploitation, extraction, and dispossession. Hydropower mega-dams, for example, require large-scale infrastructure in the Amazon that cuts into and through indigenous territories and conservation areas (Atkins 2018). The tech-minerals required for energy storage from wind and solar power, as another example, are driving new frontiers of mining in Latin America.

Political ecology provides a productive lens for investigating these shifts and tensions. It reveals the contested and multi-scalar politics of nature(s), spanning debates about how nature(s) are conceptualized and governed.  Broadly, it enables us to foreground and analyse the interconnections between natures, cultures, knowledges, power, and history (see Escobar 2017) and politicize ecologies that are often rendered apolitical within popular and policy discourse (Robbins 2011: 7). In this panel, we invite papers that use a political ecology approach to interrogate and extend how we view so-called ‘green’ energies – from solar and wind to hydropower and new biofuels. At a time when the urgency of climate change is increasingly apparent (IPCC 2018), we seek to broaden our understandings of these emergent energy infrastructures to better understanding their relationship – be it positive or negative – with both social wellbeing and environmental health. With the complex realities of green energies often hidden by de-politicised CO2 metrics, we seek papers that open-up our understandings of what constitutes ‘green’ energy and the role of power and exclusion in such a definition. 

We invite papers that take this as their starting point that energy is a particularly important site of study for political ecology, one that is not interchangeable with other ‘natural resources’ as energy provides the material basis of politics more broadly (Huber 2011). We invite authors to interrogate, examine and extend a political ecology of ‘green’ energy systems and technologies. Papers that look at the Global North or South are welcomed. Similarly, we are interested in hearing about a diversity of energy sources. 

Papers might ask:

  • How do green energy technologies restructure the spatiality / materiality of incumbent energy systems?
  • To what extent do green energies differ from dynamics of extractivism and the uneven development produced by incumbent energy systems?
  • How do new ‘resources’ come into being (to become commodities and extractable resources)? For example, through which knowledges, practices and discourses?
  • How do green energies rework or confront colonial histories, neocolonial practices and decolonial agendas?
  • How are alternative ontologies of nature and place encountered and treated by green energy initiatives? 

Please send a 300 word abstract and brief bio to Dr Jessica Hope ( and Dr Ed Atkins ( by Feb 12th 2019

7. Rural to where? Rural young people’s geographies in mobility, learning, trajectories and hopefulness

Session organisers: Assoc. Prof. Tracey Skelton [], Jessica Clendenning [] Geography, National University of Singapore

Co-sponsoring groups: 1) Geographies of Children, Youth & Families Research Group (CYFRG); 2) Developing Areas Research Group (DARG)

Globally, rural young people, compared to their urban counterparts, are relatively understudied and/or misunderstood in academic discourse and policy debates (Panelli et al. 2007; Jeffrey 2008; Punch 2015). These trends, however, may be shifting as some major development organisations focus on ‘youth’, and examine rural development and gender dynamics more closely (e.g., CTA and IFAD 2014; UNESCO 2016; UN Women 2017; FAO 2018). This session builds upon both ‘troubled’ and ‘hopeful’ foci in policy and academic studies on rural youth transitions and mobility (e.g., Chant and Jones 2005; Crivello 2010; Punch and Sugden 2013; Cuervo and Wynn 2014; Farrugia 2016; Woronov 2016; Chea and Huijsmans 2018) to understand rural young people’s educational pathways for navigating opportunities, challenges and precarity. The session examines details about how these pathways affect localised and informal learning (e.g., Katz 2004), and the choices and alternatives young people have in education, training, and making a living.

This session explores how rural youth (including those in small towns) use and access various forms of mobility, education or training (e.g. vocational, technical, formal) to improve their skills for work, self-employment, further migration, etc., and the outcomes or consequences of such investments. Questions for analysis may include:

  • What are rural young people’s pathways for education and training, and where do they lead?
  • What are the formal or informal skills rural young people acquire from these pathways; how are they used in their everyday lives to find work?
  • What are the effects of these investments in mobility, education and training on their families, natal villages, land uses and forests?
  • What are the negative and positive effects of rural youthful mobilities? For example, problems of debt or acquisition of cultural capital. What might be the short-term or long-term impacts?
  • How does ‘home place’, along with other social factors such as gender, ethnicity and age, affect their in/ability to become mobile, access education or employment resources?
  • What are the spatialities of where schools/training centres are based, subject areas, and types of student populations (e.g., vocational or tertiary; rural or urban)? What is learned, gained and un/successful?
  • How do differing types of migration (distance, time, type of work) affect connections to families, villages, labour and knowledge in natal land?
  • Why do young people return to rural areas?
  • What implications does this have for rural areas, rural development and rural young people’s futures?

The aim of this session is to address topics relating to young people’s current trajectories in rural areas. We anticipate diverse research and discussions that center on rural youth’s hopes and troubles, obstacles and opportunities, that they must navigate in a wide variety of contexts and countries. We look forward to discussing new methodologies and perspectives, and invite scholars from all academic (and non-academic) fields, including (but not limited to) human geography, political ecology, environmental sociology, anthropology, gender and women’s studies, youth studies, etc.

Interested participants should email: their names, affiliations, email addresses, paper titles and abstracts (250 words) to both Tracey Skelton ( and Jessica Clendenning ( by Tuesday, February 12th. We look forward to meeting you in London!

DARG Sponsored Sessions at the RGS-IBG Annual Conference

Developing Areas Research group (DARG) Call for Sponsored Sessions, RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London

DARG invites proposals for sponsored sessions at the upcoming 2019 RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, to be held in Wednesday 28th to Friday 30th August. This year we will be launching a paper prize, offered for the best paper presented during a DARG sponsored panel.

The 2019 Conference Chair is Professor Hester Parr (University of Glasgow, UK) and the conference theme is Geographies of trouble / Geographies of hope. We invite proposals for sessions that engage with the conference themes and extend contemporary debates within Development Geography. These can be pitched as paper panels, roundtables and sessions that include Development practitioners.

Please contact DARG Chair Dr Jessica Hope with any questions about proposal for a sponsored session ( The deadline for proposals is Friday 21st December 2018. These should include:

1. Title of session

2. Name of co-sponsoring groups (if applicable)

3. Name, affiliation, and contact details for session convenors

4. Session abstract (max 300 words, excl. references)

5. Indication of any non-standard arrangements.

We will notify you about your proposal by January 4th. The deadline for full session details to be sent by conveners to DARG (including sequence of papers, paper titles, abstracts and full author details) is 11th February 2019.

For more information on DARG see: For more information on the conference see:

Full call for sessions can be found here:

DARG Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Winner

We are delighted to announce the winner of this years Undergraduate Dissertation Prize; Miles Harrison from UCL for dissertation titled ‘Empowering the poor?: The effects of formalising informal settlements in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’. Many congratulations Miles!

The DARG committee were impressed with the amount of data Miles collected through his reflective, mixed methods approach using interviews and questionnaires. Miles’ analysis and findings are presented clearly and he makes important contributions to work on housing tenure in Dar es Salaam.

We would also like to highly commend two runners up who also wrote excellent dissertations. They are:

– Charles White (Durham), dissertation titled: An investigation of the hydropolitics of conflict and modernity: a case study of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
– Katharine Gardiner (Oxford), dissertation titled: A Nascent Nation: the stateless Dominicans of Haitian descent and their constructions of nationality.


We received many fantastic dissertations so we would like to acknowledge all of the hard work and enthusiasm from all the students whose dissertations were submitted.


The Developing Areas Research Group in conjunction with Routledge offers an annual prize for the most promising dissertation concerning ‘The Geography of Developing Areas’. The author of the winning dissertation receives £100 worth of Routledge books of their choice, and 20% discount on any further Routledge books ordered.


The prize is open to any student taking a first degree in Geography. Students taking joint degrees are eligible to enter for the prize, provided that at least half their course is in Geography. It is suggested that no Department of Geography submits more than one dissertation for this prize. Dissertations will be evaluated by three members of the DARG Committee.

DARG Postgraduate Travel Prize Winner

We are delighted to announce the winner of our DARG postgraduate travel prize, Kavita Dattani who is an MRes student at Queen Mary, University of London. We received a very strong set of applications so congratulations Kavita!

Kavita’s research project is entitled “Digitising Domestic Work: investigating the role of digital technologies and on-demand platforms in the work-lives of Delhi’s domestic workers“. The prize is £800 toward fieldwork costs and Kavita will be spending the summer in Delhi where she will conduct interviews and focus groups. We wish Kavita the best of luck with her research and are looking forward to her report on her return.

If you are interested in applying for future funding, our travel prize closes on 1 June every year. More information can be found on our funding page. We look forward to receiving your submissions.

David W. Smith Essay Prize Winner 2018

The Developing Areas Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) annual essay competition is in memory of David W. Smith. David W Smith, who also published under the name of David Drakakis Smith, was an outstanding scholar committed to researching on Third World cities. He died in 1999.


The competition is open to A2 level students in England and Wales and Advanced Higher students in Scotland who are invited to write an essay of up to 1500 words to a title chosen by DARG. This year’s essay title was:

With reference to one city in the Global South and one key theme (gender, health or sexuality) answer the following question: To what extent (& in what ways) does the city ensure the safety of its citizens?


We at DARG are delighted to announce the winner of the David W. Smith Memorial Prize 2018, Antonia Hogan from St. Mary’s School, Ascot.  Antonia wrote a wonderful essay to the title; With reference to Cairo, Egypt and Gender: To what extent (& in what ways) does the city ensure the safety of its citizens? She wins £100 in book vouchers from Routledge Publishers.




Many thanks to all who submitted an essay. We hope you will continue with your work on development geography and your engagement with the important issues of gender, health and sexuality.


The 2019 competition will be announced in Autumn this year so please keep an eye out for details.


DARG Sponsored Sessions at the RGS-IBG Annual Conference

We are currently sponsoring four sessions for the RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2018. Please see information below and do consider submitting an abstract to one of them.


Sustainable Landscapes: how is the sustainable development agenda (re)working and (re)producing landscapes?


Jessica Hope

Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, Department of Geography, University of Bristol


This DARG sponsored panel interrogates reiterations of sustainable development, as it becomes a guiding principle for global development following the 2015 launch of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is in response to increasing recognition of human-induced climate change, and despite the concept being much critiqued as a buzzword “unavoidable, powerful and floating free from concrete referents in a world of make-me-believe” (Adams 2009). In this panel, we will debate the contemporary landscapes being changed and (re)produced by the sustainable development agenda, as well as the extent of its power in relation to wider shifts in development (Mawdsley 2016, 2017). Firstly, we will question what kinds of landscapes are being created and how – for example, through discourse and transformative imaginaries (Foucault 2002; Cosgrove 2008), assemblages, networks and actors (Braun 2006; DeLanda 2006), its methods for data collection and measurement (Jerven 2013), and the ways it encounters and values the non-human (Lorimer 2012; Sundberg 2014). Secondly, we will identify, examine and assess the practices that constitute emergent and dominant forms of sustainable development and thirdly, consider the knowledges, natures, debates and conflicts that are being overlooked or actively excluded.


Please send a 300 word abstract to Dr Jessica Hope by Wednesday February 14th along with a brief biography.


Adams, W.M., 2009. Green Development: environment and sustainability in the Third World. Routledge.

Braun, B., 2006. Towards a new earth and a new humanity: nature, ontology, politics (pp. 191-222). Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Cosgrove, D., 2008. Geography and Vision: Seeing. Imagining and Representing the World (IB Tauris, London).

DeLanda, M., 2006. A new philosophy of society: Assemblage theory and social complexity. A&C Black.

Foucault, M., 2002. The order of things: An archaeology of the human sciences. Psychology Press.

Jerven, M., 2013. Poor numbers: how we are misled by African development statistics and what to do about it. Cornell University Press.

Lorimer, J., 2012. Multinatural geographies for the Anthropocene. Progress in Human Geography36(5), pp.593-612.

Mawdsley, E., 2017. Development geography 1: Cooperation, competition and convergence between ‘North’and ‘South’. Progress in Human Geography41(1), pp.108-117.

—-2016. Development geography II: Financialization. Progress in Human Geography, p.0309132516678747.

Sundberg, J., 2014. Decolonizing posthumanist geographies. cultural geographies21(1), pp.33-47.



Peripheral urbanisms: Exploring the significance of urban change and continuity across comparative peripheries


Dr Paula Meth & Prof Alison Todes

Reader & Director of Undergraduate Programme
Department of Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield


This panel focuses on the spatial edges of large cities and city-regions across the world, with a particular, but not exclusive focus on cities in the global South. These edges present a complex mix of poorly understood, and often unresearched, urban transformations. Urban changes often signal new forms of investment, either by private sector interests, or in relation to geographically particular state-directed investment in infrastructure (including housing) or employment creation – sometimes part of national policy measures. Pressures on housing markets in other parts of a city can also have spill-over impacts on different peripheral locations. Lower land costs, particular forms of tenure and regulation may also underpin growth in these areas.  At the same time, parts of urban peripheries are subject to absences of investment, or declines in earlier interventions, tied to global shifts of capital or the repositioning of priorities, which may result in depopulation, loss of working age residents or rising poverty. These undulations have significant impacts on the everyday lives of local residents, affecting employment opportunities, and accessiblity to services, education and health, with some areas languishing while others evolve slowly under the steam of piecemeal local responses. Importantly, the nature of local, city and national governance structures shapes these changes and continuities, hence weakness or conflicting governance demands impact on these peripheral urbanisms resulting in poorly managed outcomes or the cherry-picking of particular localities over others. Urban peripheries are themselves varied, as land availability and ownership, environmental quality, transport links etc all work to differentiate urban living and urban change, with wealth and poverty evident.


Our panel aims to attract researchers (and other urban colleagues) who are interested in questions relating to particular or comparative urban peripheries. The panel will include papers from our African Peripheries project (see but welcomes papers which draw on empirically-grounded material relating to other urban contexts. The panel welcomes papers focusing on spatial practices, political and governance trends and interventions, economic processes and social realities among other issues and reflects on the significance of these for urban theory. Papers which examine methodological or conceptual challenges of researching ‘Peripheral urbanisms’ are also welcome.





Interrogating relationships between spatial and social mobility in the Global South


Marta Bivand Erdal

Research Professor

 Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)



This session seeks to interrogate the variegated relationships between spatial mobility and social mobility in societies in the Global South. Relationships between migration and development have received substantial attention in recent years, notably foregrounding the salience of remittances at the household level (Carling 2008; Clemens and Ogden 2014; de Haas 2006). Scrutinizing the ways in which migration interacts with development processes, one conclusion appears to be that migration is an integral component to social change, whereas its exact functions and dynamics are highly context-dependent (de Haas 2010; Sana and Massey 2005; Skeldon 2014). Meanwhile, there also appears to be some potential for moving the understanding of relationships between spatial mobility and social mobility further, especially by juxtaposing analyses built on the specifics of particular contexts, and through constructive dialogue between different strands of scholarship.


This session’s engagement with relationships between spatial mobility and social mobility in the Global South, draws on scholarship at the intersections of geography, development and migration studies (de Haan 1999; Gibson et al 2010; Rigg 2007). Hence building on work which has explored the roles that migration plays in livelihood pathways for individuals and families (Myroniuk and Vearey 2014; Rigg et al 2014; Rigg 2007), some of which foregrounds the roles of education, intertwined with migration, for social mobility (Boyden 2013; Smith et al 2014). It also draws inspiration from the field of youth studies, especially in African contexts, where the interplay of spatial and social mobility emerges as crucial (Gough 2008; Langevang and Gough 2009).


In Africa, much as in Asian societies, urbanization is perhaps the most crucial process whereby spatial mobility and outcomes regarding quality of life and future prospects interact, making cities a crucial avenue for research (Gough et al 2015). Interrelated with urbanization, the rise of ‘new middle classes’ in African and Asian contexts, is receiving attention, where spatial mobility also matters (Page and Sunjo 2017). The multi-locality of livelihoods themselves is a further dimension of relationships between spatial mobility and social mobility, which merits attention (Thieme 2008; Schroder and Stephan-Emmich 2016); and associated with this, sustained transnational ties which migration might lead to, among other involving a potential insurance mechanism through remittances, as protection to various shocks (Mazzucato 2009).


For the purposes of this session, spatial mobility is understood to include rural-to-urban migration, internal and international migration, whether regionally or further afield. Social mobility, in turn, is understood in contextual, emic terms, as improvement, in terms of quality of life, the realization or promise of prospects for life, including but not limited to securing material wealth. Different units of analysis are of relevance, including individuals and families, notably with a lens sensitive to gendered dimensions, but also neighborhoods, communities, or cities. With appropriate data available, national level analyses, distinguishing between differing types of spatial mobility, and their connections with various economic outcomes, are important in order to better understand patterns at an aggregate level.


Papers addressing the challenge of ‘interrogating relationships between spatial mobility and social mobility in the Global South’, submitted for this session, might focus on – but need not be limited to – e.g.:

  • exploring the roles (and non-roles) which migration – past, and present – plays in the emergence of ‘new middle classes’ in Asia and Africa
  • exploring how education plays a role in quests for social mobility, where spatial mobility might also come into play
  • comparative analyses of the interplay of spatial mobility and social mobility, between several contexts
  • longitudinal intergenerational analyses of the interplay of spatial and social mobility in extended families (and/or households) over time



Beyond the standardised urban lexicon: Which Vocabulary Matters?

This panel is jointly sponsored by Royal Geographical Society’s (with the Institute of British Geographers) Developing Areas Research Group (DARC) and Postgraduate Forum (RGSPGF) Session Conveners: Shreyashi Dasgupta and Noura Wahby, University of Cambridge, UK

Session Abstract: The framing of the urban lexicon has been standardised and dominated based on the Euro American context. However, contemporary urban theories from Global Cities, World Class Cities, to Ordinary Cities, Comparative Urbanism and Southern Urbanism have indicated the shift in understanding the ‘urban’ and ‘cities’ from various perspectives. The urban vocabulary is continuously growing in an attempt to capture the complex power dynamics, changing geographical landscapes as well as urban processes. How we read cities and where we place them in a global lexicon is increasingly contested especially around basic questions, such as the meaning of ‘the urban’, boundaries of country and city, among others (Parnell 2014). In particular, the nature of the inclusion of experiences from the Global South is under great scrutiny and debate. These conceptualisations have resulted in an expansion of Southern vocabulary that is continually transformed as new ground realities emerge. Debates surrounding the use of the word ‘slum’, ‘smart cities’, ‘urban poor’, ‘legal’, ‘illegal’, ‘formal’, ‘informal’, ‘periphery’ and so on are especially indicative of the power idiosyncrasies inherent in the choice of vocabulary, where adoption of different types of definitions lead to discriminatory government policies, cosmetic donor programs and complex community identities.

It is thus important to trace how Northern-based theory and concepts are applied in spaces such as the Global South, or across new geographies of national spaces elsewhere. Similarly, we aim to bring to light in-depth analyses on the adoption of new lexicons, the dominance of certain voices, the capture of terminologies by powerful stakeholders, and the recycling of words from the ground-up or vice versa. This panel aims to bring together conceptualisation and interventions that bridge the divide between theory and practice to understand produced mismatches in applying standard urban terms to ground realities.



Bhan, G (2016). ‘In the Public’s Interest: Evictions, Citizenship and Inequality in Contemporary Delhi’. University of Georgia Press.

Parnell, S and Oldfield, S (2014). ‘The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South’. Routledge: New York. RGS-IBG 2018 Annual International Conference Page 2

Simone, A. (2017). ‘Living as logistics: Tenuous struggles in the remaking of collective’ in ‘The Routledge Companion to Planning in the Global South. Routledge: New York.

Schindler, S (2017). ‘Towards a paradigm of Southern Urbanism’. City. 21 (1) 47-64

Watson, V (2009). ‘Seeing from the South: Refocusing Urban Planning on the Globe’s Central Urban Issues’. Urban Studies. 46 (11) 2259 to 2275.


If you would like to participate in the session please submit an abstract (maximum 300 words) along with the name and affiliation to Shreyashi Dasgupta ( and Noura Wahby ( by Thursday 8th February 2018. The length of session will be of 1 hour and 40 minutes. It will be comprised of 5 papers that will be of 15 minutes each. A discussion of 25 minutes will follow as well as closing remarks by the session chair. We would also like to encourage scholars to explore different mediums of presentation, such as photo essays, short videos, among others.

RGS-IBG 2018: Call for DARG (Developing Areas Research Group) Session Proposals

RGS-IBG 2018: Call for DARG (Developing Areas Research Group) Session Proposals

The Developing Areas Research Group (DARG) would like to invite expressions of interest and proposals for sponsored sessions for the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference to be held in Cardiff, Tuesday 28th August – Friday 31st August, 2018.
DARG welcomes proposals that address both theoretical and empirical questions, changes and conflicts with regards to geographies of development, as well as those that engage directly with Professor Paul Milbourne’s the theme of Geographical landscapes /  changing landscapes of geography. See for further details.
Each session length is 1 hour and 40mins and in addition to paper-based sessions we also encourage innovation formats to sessions, see here.
Please send a 300 word proposal to DARG Chair – Jessica Hope ( by Monday Jan 15th 2018.

Undergraduate Workshop: Fieldwork for international development dissertations

The Developing Areas Research Group (DARG Royal Geographical Society-IBG) is absolutely delighted to announce that they will host their annual Undergraduate dissertation workshop for students interested in doing fieldwork in the Global South. You will hear from world leading researchers, including Prof David Hulme (Global Development Institute, University of Manchester), Dr. Kate McLean (Geography, Birkbeck, University of London), Dr. Rubina Jasani (Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, University of Manchester) and Dr Jennifer O’Brien (Manchester University) who have carried out extensive work in different and challenging environments in ‘development’ contexts. They will share their personal accounts of the difficulties of research in such contexts, as well as their ‘top tips’.
The event will also give you opportunity to find out about the ‘nitty gritty’ related to the logistics of preparing for the ‘field’. And there will be mini workshops focusing on key issues: ‘Mental health in the field’; ‘Ethics in development research’; and ‘Translation’. These workshops will also be led by researchers, working in the ‘global south’. The workshop is aimed at second year students planning to do their dissertation research in a development context.
This is an event not to be missed as it will give you the opportunity to think through your own dissertation topic and how you may go about gathering data.


 The event will take place at Manchester University, University place, Room 4.204 on the 31st January 2018


The eventbrite page can be found here
Places are limited! There is a £10 registration fee which is payable on arrival. The event starts at 10am and ends at 5pm.
To register, or for further information please email: Dr. Raksha Pande at

Postgraduate Workshop Resources


In November 2017 DARG ran a postgraduate workshop focusing on developing a communications and impact strategy for your work. For those who were unable to attend we have included some useful resources below and a communication and impact plan template available to use here.



Useful resources

  • INASP does a lot of work with development policy-makers and can provide useful advice on Policy Influence Plans. In addition, they have some great resources for those working in developing countries, and information about communicating research with academics and practitioners in other countries. (Follow them on Twitter: @INASPinfo)


  • Research to Action has a huge number of resources on making sure your research is accessible and used by development practitioners and policymakers. Specifically, there are loads of useful guides and templates available here. (Follow them on Twitter: @Research2Action)


  • Communications & Impact strategy guides: In addition to our basic template, ESRC has a useful guide here, and a list of alternatives can be found here.


  • If you’re interested in creative methods of communication, check out PositiveNegatives, which produces some fantastic comics and animations on humanitarian and development issues. (Follow them on Twitter: @PosNegOrg) If you think a creative medium could be a great way to share your work/research “story” with particular groups, why not check out the Arts-based courses taught at your university – producing a film, animation, comic, podcast etc. linked to your research could be a great project for an undergraduate or Masters-level student, either as part of their course or to develop their portfolio…



  • Remember to check out courses offered by your institution. Most have training or resources on publishing, working with the media, using social media as an academic etc. And if they don’t, make a request for them to start offering such support! It’s also worth making sure you are always letting someone from your university or research centre know if you are trying to promote a publication/blog post/presentation etc. so they can help you to share it widely and offer you communications support.


  • Lastly, if you are thinking of trying out Twitter as an academic, start off by ‘following’ some DARG-related profiles:
    – RGS Postgraduate Forum: @PGF_RGSIBG
    – RGS Postgrad Forum for Masters students: @PGFmasters
    – RGS Higher Education: @RGS_IBGhe
    – Prof Dorothea Kleine: @dorotheakleine
    – Gemma Pearson: @GemKPea
    – Hannah Smith: @hannahesmith_13
    … and check out who they follow.