FEBRUARY 2019 | VOL. 04 ISSUE 02
DEPARTMENT CENTENARY CITIZEN SCIENCE TRAVEL IN THE AMERICAS LENT 2019 | COMPASS | 1
FEBRUARY 2019 | VOL. 04 ISSUE 02
On the Cover The cover photograph was the winner of our schools’ photography competition. In an effort to encourage Geographical enthusiasm amongst people doing their GCSEs and A Levels, we reached out to school Geography departments nation-wide. And we are proud to say our winner came from Cambridge; the photo was taken in the UK! You really don’t have to go far to find talented people and beautiful scenery. Find out more from our winner, Ethan:
EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Anjali Gupta & Angus Parker DESIGN Harriet Bradnock HUMAN GEOGRAPHY Matthew Geldard & Flora Macgregor PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY Bronwen Fraser & Eswyn Chen TRAVEL Molly Cook & Al Mulroy PEOPLE Florence Wiggins BLOG EDITORS Hannah Mendall & Tesni Clare ACCESS & OUTREACH Alice Bell SECRETARY Tom Birdseye PUBLICITY Yi Hyun Kim CONTRIBUTORS Will Haslam, Aymeric Amand, Matthew Geldard, Harriet Bradnock, Angus Parker, Paul Hopper, Zoe Osterloh, Anjali Gupta, Beth Barker, Ellie Ong, John Hartshorne, Eswyn Chen, Johnathon Turnbull, Ben Peart, Charlotte Brinkley, Anthony Grey, Molly Cook, Hannah Mendall, Johnathan Lancaster Inside Back Cover: Cajon Del Maipo, Sophia Leipnitz Back Cover: Whale in Iceland, Hannah Mendall Disclaimer The views expressed in this magazine are those of the individual authors only and do not represent the views or opinions of Compass Magazine as a whole or the University of Cambridge Department of Geography. CONTACT email@example.com
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“This photo was taken in October 2018. The stretch of coastline is on the Herne Bay sea front, between Whitstable and Margate in Kent, UK. The aerial photo was taken by a “DJI MAVIC AIR”, which has allowed for the birds-eye view of the beach, creating this image that is less familiar than the ones we are used to seeing. At the first look, it may not seem that there is much going on geographically. However there is. There are two aspects to look at, human geography and physical geography. The groynes indicate human activity that can be linked to economic activity or coastline management. They also indicate the presence of longshore drift, meaning that swash and backwash are moving up the beach, moving sediment with them. Consequently, the use of groynes will have an effect further up the beach - they may be starving other stretches of coast of sediment, exposing them to marine erosion, but from this photo we can’t tell what the actual effect would be. The use of groynes may be to trap sediment to prevent marine erosion on this stretch of coastline which would act as a shoreline management plan, as Herne Bay is a heavily populated and built up area along the sea front. You can see beach cusps created by wave action, indicating that this beach is swashaligned instead of drift-aligned. These cusps also indicate where deposition of sediment is occuring - as waves diverge and where more erosion is as the waves converge.
EDITORIAL Michael Palin once described Geography as “the subject which holds the key to our future” and, in these turbulent political and economic times, it is interesting that the UK is relying (at the time of writing) on a graduate of geography to steer the country through these choppy waters of uncertainty. Yet what is so appealing about geography as a discipline is that it is a multi-disciplinary and wideranging subject that provides tools, instruments and analytical lenses to scrutinise and contribute to a host of issues affecting our society. It enables one to push at the boundaries of what we know and breakdown the door of the unknown – so I think Mr Palin could be onto something in his description… Whilst it would perhaps be a lofty ambition to state that Compass can provide the answers to societies’ tribulations, we always attempt to bring together a range of eclectic articles that demonstrate the diversity and value of geography as a discipline. For example, in the opening pages of this issue there are fascinating pieces exploring the relationship between religion and development, the political nature of shoes and the geopolitical tensions unfolding in south-east Europe – and that’s just the first three articles! Moving through the magazine, we mark the
Centenary of the Geography Department at Cambridge with a special sub-section featuring articles including a sojourn through the history of fieldwork projects over the decades as well as an interview with a graduate from 1965 to give a perspective on how our studies have evolved over the decades. The selection of exam questions that we have taken from papers from throughout the decades is fascinating in revealing both change but equally aspects of continuity suggesting that geographers have always been answering the pertinent and relevant questions facing society. In fact, the theme of education is continued with articles exploring how education is a distinctly geographical issue, how a geography education enables one to see beyond the façade often displayed through the tourist industry as well as the value of the ‘outdoor classroom’ for children’s schooling in contemporary systems that are distinctly bounded within the confines of the classroom. Moreover, such education would lay foundations for greater contributions to the emerging field of ‘citizen science’ which is considered in the context of fieldwork undertaken in the Himalayan region. However, from the local – wildlife at Chernobyl – to the global – machine learning for climate change – the magazine is diffused with analysis
across a plethora of scales, demonstrating the diversity that characterises our subject. This diversity is perhaps best illustrated through the reports from two distinctly different dissertation ventures to North and South America… The magazine ends with two reviews of books that are tackling very pertinent and contemporary issues – namely the nature of British identity and how to manage the migration crisis. Both are matters that perhaps orient our attention once again to the future and highlight just how important, as Michael Palin elucidated, geography is as a discipline. We can only hope that the next 100 years of the geography department at Cambridge remains focussed towards using its keys to unlock, and its torches to illuminate, paths towards the future. I would like to thank all the authors as well as the committee of sub-editors for their contributions and support towards producing the magazine. There are plenty of other articles that I have not mentioned in this Editorial so please channel your inner traveller and delve into the plethora of diverse pieces that perhaps only a geography magazine could offer. And one final thing, you won’t find Brexit mentioned anywhere… I’ve checked…and double checked…■
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The Peruvian Amazon, Pascual Gonzalez
HardangerjĂ¸kulen at dusk, Stephen Bradnock 4 | COMPASS | LENT 2019
CONTENTS 6 Religion and Development 8 Political Shoes 10 Itâ€™s All in a Name: Greece and Macedonia 13 Exam Questions Through the Decades 14 Fieldwork Through the Years 16 Interview with Paul Hopper 18 Modernist Urbanism 20 Geographies of Education 22 Citizen Science in the Himalayas 26 Ozone Modelling 28 Albion Outdoors 30 The Wildlife of Chernobyl 34 Welsh Communities in Patagonia 36 New York - Makeup Industry 38 The Tourist Gaze in Morocco 40 BRIT(ish) - Book Review 41 Can We Solve the Migrant Crisis? - Book Review LENT 2019 | COMPASS | 5
“Opiate of the minority”
What is the link between development and the popularity of religious affiliation? By Will Haslam, Third Year Geographer at Emmanuel Often confined to the conversational “no-go-zone” of first dates and dinner parties, discussing religion can sometimes feel like a minefield of political-correctness of which only the most diplomatically adept will attempt to navigate. Yet, this appears to be a malady predominantly for the Global North where rampant secularisation is threatening the popularity of religion. Taking a broader view, is it possible to attribute a decline in religious affiliation to the processes of development? Looking purely at the statistics, the marked increase from 3% to 45% of the British population who are atheist seems a strong indicator of religion’s ostensible incompatibility with the developed world. And this pattern continues in many other highly developed European countries: Sweden, Norway, Denmark and France, which has the highest atheism rates in Europe. Meanwhile, religion is booming in Africa and South America. So what has caused this religious inversion of the Brandt Line? And what can this tell us about the relationship between religion and the processes of development? There is no hiding the fact that religion in the UK is in precipitous decline, with the most pronounced decrease in religious affiliation among young adults. Reasons for this decline are varied: perhaps the advent of two World Wars over the past century has irrevocably tinged the optimism of Christian values, or
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rather the slow transition from theocracy to democracy (aided by the rise of Marxist ideas) is to blame for this apparent secularisation of the West. Others may cite the intoxicating power of globalisation and the associated rise of TNCs meaning that the average Westerner is more likely to worship the “Golden Arches” rather than the arches of a cathedral. The massproliferation of information, aided considerably by the invention of the Internet in 1970s, has contributed to mass education and the spread of secular ideas, ranging from the works of Dawkins or simply exposure to secular organisations like the BBC. The internet has also disrupted conventional local social networks, which goes some way to explain why with each generation religious uptake is falling. The journalist Damian Thomas summaries this decline as a matter of choice which the Internet age has facilitated: “the mainstream churches can’t cope with this explosion of choice [between religion and atheism]”. A developed nation is, almost by definition, one that has embraced globalisation and the associated liberal ideologies such as an acceptance of abortion and gay-marriage: viewpoints which can be incongruent with those taught by religion. Often religions are slow (or reluctant) to accommodate such shifts in social attitudes (consider the Catholic Church’s view on gay marriage), causing alienation, perhaps even animosity, towards
a religious group and fuels their decline. By assessing the reasons for the decline in religious uptake solely in the UK it seems clear that the development processes, in particular those borne from globalisation, have been instrumental in achieving secularisation. With high levels of development comes economic prosperity, increased education, a tendency for liberal social attitudes and a considerable reliance on globalisation: factors which surely promote a clear decline in religious popularity with increased development. However, there is one glaring anomaly to this conclusion: China. This international behemoth has witnessed a boom in its Christian population, and is predicted to be the largest Christian population in the world by 2030. Yet, while China has undergone rapid economic growth it has reversed the religion-development trend witnessed in other Western nations. Ed Stourton tentatively suggests that this unexpected increase is because Christianity is “filling the vacuum left by the collapse of faith in communism”. But this seems a vacuous reason to explain such a large religious boom across Asia. Perhaps the sheer size of China means that it is yet to reach a unified stage of development across its land area - the slick Eastern cities may project an aura of Western-esque development but it is the poor agricultural areas in the west that explains why China’s GDP per capita is seven times smaller than that in the UK. If true, we would
COMMENT expect a decline in religious affiliation once a unified level of development is reached. The fabric of European history is heavily laced with religion so it is perhaps no surprise that religion and development are so entwined. The, often brutal, Crusades of the 11th Century saw Christian Europeans forcibly evangelise the people of Eastern Europe, paving the way for colonial outposts to be established and the establishment of international trade links. Unknowingly, these devout evangelists were catalysing an early form of globalisation. Similarly, eight centuries later, religious motives were once again being exported by Western Europe: this time to undeveloped Africa during the “Scramble for Africa”. Indeed, the sociologist Max Weber cites religion as an unintended driver of development in arguing that “the protestant work ethic” was an important force behind “the unplanned and uncoordinated emergence of modern capitalism”. Weber goes on to define this “spirit of capitalism” as one of hard work and progress which echoes many Christian teachings. If this viewpoint can be accepted, it seems likely that work ethics imbued by religion can aid the process of economic development, especially when low-skilled manual labour dominates a country’s economy.
Whilst there is a prevailing tone of skepticism amidst the development-religion discourse, an article from The Economist notices that religious groups can accelerate development in the developing world by providing social stability upon which aid can be effectively provided. Specifically, the World Bank has actively sought to build up a relationship with religious groups in developing countries as they were best placed to educate people, administer resources and keep an eye on corruption at a local level. The article describes these religious groups as “organised distribution systems in otherwise chaotic places”, and has seen numerous successes such as the evangelical group fighting malaria in Mozambique. Critics would point out that cohesion between secular organisations and religious groups is both rare and sometimes contentious especially if religious teachings conflict directly with medical advice, such as the use of contraception. Conversely, it could also be argued that religious networks are being exploited by development agencies to do the undesirable “on the ground” work. However, aside from specific conflict in values between religious and secular groups, surely they share the common aim of development: to help the poor attain a better life. Taking advantage of religious networks is cost effective for aid agencies, freeing up money to be spent elsewhere, and the only byproduct being a side order of religious evangelising. Surely this is a satisfactory trade off to make?
The concept of “development” is certainly a rather multifaceted and nebulous one. While it can be loosely defined in terms of social, political and economic progress, the complex interplay between each set of factors makes any attempt to trace a cause-and-effect relationship with religion largely redundant. As such, the most convincing conclusion arises if we consider the decline in religious affiliation as a product of the processes that constitute development namely the tendency to supersede traditional religions with liberal values. Perhaps the central tenet of religion, arguably to provide a moral code for living, is becoming outdated now that people have unprecedented access to information online and capitalist societies come equipped with the trappings of Christian values without the hassle of attending church every week. Obviously, this is taking the viewpoint to the extreme and, as is evident in China, the picture for religion is not entirely bleak. Uptake of Christianity (which this article has inadvertently dwelled on) may be declining, but religious diversity is increasing thanks to global migration patterns. In some cases, religions are adapting to keep up with a changing world and shunning outdated practices. For example, “charismatic Christianity” is a form of Pentecostalism that is thriving across Latin America, Africa. the Philippines and, according to The Economist, is beginning to infiltrate the secular Global North. This acceptance of change is encouraging. As change and progression are surely central components of development, it is therefore up to religions to embrace the inevitable change in social attitudes and behaviours or risk being confined to the ageing tomes on which they are founded. ■
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Political shoes: Walking Away from the By Aymeric Amand, Third Year Geographer at Selwyn On 26th March 2016, renowned footballer Lionel Messi was a guest on the Egyptian MBC Masr television channel “Yes I am Famous” show. Near the end of the programme, the interviewer announced that Messi had donated a pair of his shoes to be auctioned off for charity. Messi probably meant well by doing so, but in Egypt shoes carry disrespectful connotations. In Arabic culture, showing the soles of your shoes to someone can be interpreted as an insult. The shoe itself is regarded dirty and degrading because it lies on the ground and is associated with the lowest part of the body. And indeed, this incident drew harsh reactions both on social media and from several prominent sports figures, who saw Messi’s donation of his shoes as offensive. Branding his gesture “humiliating”, Member of Parliament Said Hasasin went so far as to take off his own shoes on air and to donate them to Messi and Argentina: “You don’t know that the nail of an Egyptian baby is worth more than your shoes? […] Egyptians may not find food, but they have pride. We Egyptians have never been [so] humiliated before during our seven thousand years of civilisation.” Egyptian Football Association spokesman Azmi Megahed phoned in to the show to express his outrage and told Messi to donate his shoes to the poor back in his home country, where many were more deserving of his charity: “Egypt’s poor are our responsibility, and we cannot let them be the target of harm or humiliation, or be fed from the money received in return for the shoes of a player, no matter how great.”
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Other prominent Egyptian football figures expressed their anger, such as former captain of the national team Ahmed Hassan, who argued that Messi should have donated a signed jersey instead, “as internationals often do for charity”. The implication that Egypt was an indigent country in need of foreign donations to take care of its poor caused great resentment and echoed neocolonial narratives that have long portrayed international development policies and foreign aid as generous efforts made by Western powers to help a desperate Global South. Africa in particular, is often pictured like a helpless child, infantile and irresponsible, who needs to be looked after by the North. Although Messi undoubtedly never intended to offend an entire country, his action resonated with such implicit political discourses and controversial representations of development politics and realities. Such representations shape public perceptions and policy understandings of foreign aid and development in general, and ultimately determine the nature of development theories, policies, and practices. Messi’s shoes thus hid many powerful symbols and discourses, both from a North and a South perspective. Other famous pairs of shoes have been used in the past to protest against and reject power asymmetry and inequality – so often that there is now an entire Wikipedia page about it. Although shoe-waving is an ancient gesture in the Middle East long seen as the worst kind of insult, the
Messi’s interview on the ‘Yes I am Famous’ show broadcast on MBC’s Misr Channel, presented by Mona ElSharkawy, on 26th March 2016. Source: BBC News (2016). Copyrights: YouTube.
“This is my shoe. I donate it to Argentina.” – Egyptian MP and TV presenter Said Hasasin, appearing on his own talk show “Infirad” (“Exclusive”), on private Al-Asimah TV. Source: BBC News (2016).
New York, 12th October 1960: Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe on his delegate-desk in protest at a speech during the 902nd Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly. Source: Rai Storia (2018).
“One Size Fits All” Theory
Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi, throwing his shoes at United States President George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad, on 14th December 2008. Source: the Guardian (2008).
Anti-government protesters in Cairo wave their shoes in a gesture of anger. Source: the Guardian (2011). Photograph: Peter
phenomenon first grabbed the attention of a wider (Northern) public in October 1960 when Nikita Khrushchev pounded his shoe on his delegate-desk in protest at a speech during the 902nd Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly. Then in 2008, an Iraqi journalist, Muntadhar al-Zaidi, famously took off his black shoes and threw them at US President George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad. Al-Zaidi declared at the time that what compelled him to act “is the injustice that befell my people, and how the occupation wanted to humiliate my homeland by putting it under its boot”. AlZaidi was quickly seen as a hero to many in Arab countries and a statue of a giant shoe was unveiled in his hometown, 90 miles North-West of Baghdad. Three years later, in 2011 in Egypt, anti-government demonstrators were branding their shoes in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as part of the Arab Spring revolution.
Shoes can thus play a sociopolitical role in politics, whether at national or global level. Lionel Messi’s case is interesting, perhaps precisely because his fame rests on his feet. The four times winner of the European Golden Shoe award is also known worldwide for his involvement in charity and societal development, and regularly donates to various medical and educational organisations (MEMRI, 2016).
Advertisement for the Egyptian campaign “Tour n’ Cure” against Hepatitis C, showing Lionel Messi posing in front of the Giza pyramids.
In February 2017, he became ambassador for the Egyptian Tour n’ Cure campaign against hepatitis C. However, the Barcelona striker was again the
Source: Prime Group (2017).
source of much criticism, for he was “treated like a king” as soon as he set foot on Egyptian ground; chauffeured around in a fifteenvehicle convoy. Celebrity endorsement of humanitarian aid has significantly increased since the 1950s and has been the source of many critiques across the world, questioning the nature, efficiency, legitimacy, political neutrality, and accountability of such enterprise. As aid often comes from the North, Yanacopulos and Baillie-Smith (2007) argue that they incarnate a form of neocolonialism and create a sense of domination and appropriation of the local heritage that only depend on Western generosity – a feeling shared by some of the Egyptian figures mentioned above. Messi’s shoes might have hidden such politics of pity and thus perpetuated a discourse of North-South dominance. However, his Argentinian origins would further complicate this case: he grew up in a developing country in the South but now belongs to the highest socio-economic class of a Northern developed country. Would this donation be a form of North-South development or South-South development? Or neither? Perhaps Messi and his shoes represent the new cosmopolitan citizen – thinking “beyond the nation”, ready to help those in need, whether they live next door or on the other side of the world. ■
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It’s all in the name:
Macedonia’s long search for identity By Matthew Geldard, Third Year Geographer at Downing It’s not often you consider the name of a country being a particularly contentious issue. After all, isn’t it up to a country to name itself? Well, as it turns out, perhaps not. As a 27-year long dispute in the Balkans has demonstrated, the name of a country can matter a great deal, with 2019 marking a momentous year between Greece and its northern neighbour in concluding one of the world’s more unusual geopolitical conflicts. The problem all started in 1991. After simmering tensions boiled over in the former Yugoslavia, the Socialist Republic of Macedonia peacefully succeeded. While avoiding the physical conflict that was to erupt further north, a geopolitical one was about to emerge to the south. As upon succession, the country chose to name itself the Republic of Macedonia, a move received with anger by their southern neighbour, because Greece also has a region within it called Macedonia. Key to understanding why this was so contentious is to appreciate the modern history of the Balkans. While Europe as a whole had been far from stable across the 20th century, the Balkans has proven a particularly conflict-prone region. With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, First and Second World Wars, and then further conflict erupting in the 1990s, borders here seemed especially unstable. And as the region was plunged into chaos 10 | COMPASS | LENT 2019
after Yugoslavia’s breakup, Greece became concerned about the integrity of its northern territory. Widespread fears emerged that this new Macedonia might seek to claim territory from the Greek Macedonia, a fear unaided by maps widely circulated in Greece showing the former Yugoslav Macedonia extending to the sea through Greek territory.
Key to understanding why this was so contentious is to appreciate the modern history of the Balkans. Out of this there also emerged a cultural war, specifically around Alexander the Great. This ancient Greek hero’s actual name is Alexander III of Macedon, and from this you can probably see where the trouble stems. Alexander was ruler of the ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedon, which held territory in both modern-day Macedonia and Greece. Greece understands itself as the closest modern successor to the ancient polity, something that matters a lot to Greek identity and culture, one in which Alexander the Great has come to feature
prominently. However, upon Macedonia’s succession, the country took to the task of identity-building, capitalising on the historical ambiguity of translating the ancient world to today in relation to Alexander the Great. This manifested in several ways: Macedonia’s flag is emblazoned with the Sun of Vergina - a symbol associated with the dynasty of Alexander; Macedonia renamed its largest airport after Alexander the Great; and a giant statue of the historical figure was erected in the nation’s capital. To Macedonia this was building on a shared historical figure, but to Greece this was nothing less than cultural plunder. Some may characterise this dispute as absurd, although for the two countries it has proven anything but, having major political implications. Macedonia was only admitted to the U.N. under the provisional name the ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’, while Greece, a member of both NATO and the EU, used its position to block any chance of Macedonia joining either organisation. All the while, pressure on both Greece and Macedonia to resolve the dispute increased across the 2010s as Western nations saw the integration of Balkan countries into the EU and NATO essential to improve the region’s stability and curb Russian influence. The name dispute also manifested itself in everyday life. Social media networks found themselves
fighting a never-ending battle with Greek trolls attacking people using the ‘wrong’ name of the country, while physical protests on both sides were commonplace. Finally, in the summer of 2018, the easing of tensions led to a joint declaration by Greek and Macedonian leaders that they would seek to end the dispute. An agreement was made whereby the Republic of Macedonia will rename itself the Republic of North Macedonia, while the language will continue to be known as Macedonian and its people known as Macedonians (citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia). Addressing concerns on both sides, the declaration also promises to refrain from territorial revisionism, establish a panel to consider an objective interpretation of history, and for the new Republic of North Macedonia to review the status of any public buildings or monuments that refer to ancient Greek history.
“The dispute is an interesting example where identity, culture and politics are all brought into sharp relief around a name” but only on a 36% turnout after calls to boycott the vote. In both countries, however, and further afield, there are hopes that the name change can lead to a brighter future for the region.
Macedonia is one of Europe’s poorest countries, and protracted disputes with geopolitical repercussions are certainly not instigators of economic growth, although the sheer longevity of the dispute displays the seriousness that culture can command. Going forward, with a newfound stability, both Greece and North Macedonia can hopefully configure a friendlier relationship with one another, putting the dispute behind them. Although for this new North Macedonia, the renewed challenge of nation-building has only just begun. ■
Macedonia and Greece’s dispute is an interesting example where identity, culture and politics are all brought into sharp relief around a name, demonstrating the importance of identity and culture to understandings of self and citizenship.
As of the 25th January 2019, with the Greek parliament ratifying the agreement, it has now passed.Despite ending the dispute, the agreement has not been overwhelmingly popular. Polls show that at least 60% of Greeks are unhappy with it, while the Greek parliament only just ratified the agreement by 3 votes. Meanwhile in North Macedonia, a referendum for the name change was passed, LENT 2019 | COMPASS | 11
2019 marks one hundred years of the Cambridge Geography department. In that time, it has produced many inspiring people who have gone on to do interesting things: from humanitarians to bankers, politicians to comedians, the spectrum of destinations for Geographers is unrivalled. Such breadth has also manifested in the temporal trends of Geographical study - and the department has witnessed the evolution of the discipline into the diverse and interesting course that we are so privileged to read today. From its origins in nation-building, through colonialism and post-colonialism, into the quantitative revolution and neoliberalism, Geography has changed beyond recognition, and Cambridge has significantly contributed towards the process. With the likes of Derek Gregory and David Harvey coming before us - we certainly have big boots to fill. This section is a modest commemoration of those 100 years of history, featuring a timeline of fieldwork through the ages, an interview with an alumnus from 50 years ago, and some past exam questions for your entertainment. Keep an eye out for commemorative events through the year - there is a lot of celebrating to be done!
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Past Exam Questions Try your hand at these old tripos questions from the last 100 years.
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Fieldwork Through the Years
The first Departmental camp, 45 professors and students camped in Edale, Derbyshire. The expedition involved plane-table surveying and photographical surveys, as well as the practicalities of pitching and running a camp!
Fieldwork has a ubiquitous association with geography at Cambridge. Harriet Bradnock takes a look through the Department archives, finding some highlights from fieldtrips throughout the years...
Current students may sympathise with these first-years from the 1970s, on a field trip to Scolt Head Island, on the North Norfolk Coast. The experience of standing in some body of water, be it a saltmarsh channel or a tributary of the Cam seems to be ubiquitous to a geography degree.
PHOTOS: Jane Hardy
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PHOTO: V. McKay
PHOT OS: St ep
» A fieldtrip to Hardangerjøkulen, in western Norway, run by Professor David Little, to conduct measurements of annual glacier flow and sedimentology in the glacier outwash during the summer melt season.
Examining erosion of vegetation in Husvik, on the island of South Georgia.
An expedition into the Jotunheim mountains in Norway, to look at glacial movement, led by Jean Clark and Monica Glyn-Jones. One member of the expedition recalls a moment “On another occasion three of us, again roped together, slid down a corrie glacier, ice axes diggingin furiously, only to stop a few feet short of the bergschrund!”
“Monda y The mo 15 June st sui reachi table n bicycl g camp see method of m e Lodge) from Base ed to be by . One Camp ( and th b is was icycle was Glenmore poles, availa loade tin sc a drum of d with seve ble w n r thermo een, Profe ire, a bisc ssor M uit graph, anley’ whirli a gra s n other g hygromet ss min, a er, a access mallet was ma ories. d far as e to take ... An atte and t m not a the loch o he bicycle pt utfall as succes . It w s.” as
From the logbook of the 1953 Cairngorm Weather Survey.
An expedition in 1961 to the Valais region in Switzerland these photos taken below Dent Blanche, one of the highest Alpine peaks. Here, “Martin is being lowered into a crevasse”!
PHOTOS: John Stansbury
1966 A summer trip to Arolla Glacier in Switzerland.
Taking tree-ring cores of larch trees in Lötschental, Switzerland, looking at records of insect outbreaks in the valley and the effect of altitude on tree growth.
A more recent excursion to Arolla Glacier, for a Part 1B fieldtrip. One student has fond memories of Harriet Allen’s insistence on them all trying as many types of cheese possible, and of one esteemed professor singing along to ‘Barbie Girl’ on the trip home!
PHOTOS: Harriet Bradnock
ce Oates PHOTOS: Ali
OS: Alic PHOT
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Interview with Paul Hopper, Geography Graduate of 1967 By Angus Parker, Third Year Geographer at Robinson Paul Hopper studied Geography at Cambridge in the 1960s, graduating in 1967, almost 50 years into the department’s history. 50 years on, Angus Parker spoke with him about what the subject and the department was like back then, his career path since and his advice for Geography students today… AP: Thanks for agreeing to talk Paul, just to start with, why did you decide to study Geography fifty years ago? PH:Probably for two or three reasons, really. I’d always travelled because my father worked for British Railways and he had the facility to give us tickets, so I’ve always been a traveller. That was the first reason; the second reason was that I actually found that travelling quite interesting because it enabled me to understand what was going on in different parts of the UK and Europe. And finally, I had an extremely good teacher at school and I enjoyed the subject – to me it just became a natural selection that I followed what interested me and what I enjoyed. AP: I think that Geography is one of those subjects that can very much depend on the quality of the teacher that you get at school… PH: I think that may be true. I did a very strange combination at A-Level – Geography, History and Pure Maths. I’d already decided that I didn’t want to do the classic sciences and I enjoyed History very much too. I also had to do German O-Level because I was part of the first cohort
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applying to Cambridge in which you didn’t have to have studied Latin. You either had to have a modern language and Latin or two modern languages and ‘use of English’ so I had to do O-Level German in order to get the two languages required at that time. I then came up to Cambridge to do the ‘use of English’ exam as a formal paper with a group of about 30 people who were all like me in terms of not having studied Latin! AP: I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised to see translations in the exams fifty years ago! What was the subject like as a discipline at that time? How was it perceived in wider academic circles? PH: Geography was slightly, how should I say this, on the margins I think. Only slightly, but I don’t think it was seen as being as respectable as Classics, English or History or Natural Sciences. I think it was still slightly nouveau…
AP: Yes, I think it has made some progress in the past 50 years, but I think it is still seen by some as slightly subordinate to other more established disciplines – although of course it shouldn’t be! What was the department like? PH: I don’t think it was much different to what it is like today. Our cohort was about 90 and it was very small with only about a dozen lecturers and just one Professor. Of course, that’s all changed now. I’m amazed by how many professors there are now – in our day there was just one – the Prof was the Prof and that was it! I think the range of lecturing we had was excellent and, although it was heavily male, we probably had proportionally more ladies in Geography than in any other department – there were about 15 ladies amongst the 90 of us which was a significant proportion in those days.
“Geography is a great subject and I have never, ever for one minute regretted having read it.” AP: So it was quite a progressive department then? PH: In that respect, yes. And also, some of the lecturers were very progressive too. Peter Hagget, David Keeble and David Stoddart were certainly on the cutting edge of the subject in those days. Both the professors who were there when I was a student were quite traditional but certainly Dick Chorley, David Stoddart were very much on the edge of new thinking and along with Hagget, they brought a lot of the quantitative work into play which was very new in those days. AP: How do you think the Geography degree has helped you in your career? PH: The honest answer to that has to be that it probably didn’t matter to a great extent in the sense that I went on to do a one-year masters in Transport at Imperial College as well. That again was a subject of great interest but in fact I then
decided to go into transportation management rather than become a consultant or highway engineer. The fact that I wound up working for an airline for over twenty years was purely coincidental in terms of my Geography degree – I suppose I knew where places were! AP: So, can you just summarise what your career path looked like from there…? PH: I was with British Airways for 23 years. In those days the expectation was that when you joined you joined for life. I was there for 23 years and became quite senior but I was purged in one of the major reorganisations in the early 1990s, but BA were very good to me and I had had a fascinating career. I had spent time working in Moscow, New York and Berlin – all of which were fantastic experiences, especially at that time. For instance, I was the last person to run BA’s internal services into Berlin because whilst we were there the wall came down and it became a unified country without the very strange system whereby internal air services had been run for 40 years into West Berlin. After leaving BA, I became marketing and sales director of the Royal Mail and then worked for Legal and General Insurance before chancing upon an advert for managing director of the London Tourist Board and I was lucky enough to get that job where I spent the last 7 years of my career. AP: What would be your one bit of advice for Geography students graduating in the next 5, 10, 15 or 100 years?
PH: I think one of the things that I found was the importance of quantitative skills and one bit of advice would be to take the quantitative stuff very seriously because it is useful in all sorts of ways in modern life; numbers talk. But I think my overwhelming advice would be to enjoy what you do and find something that continues to give you that very good understanding of how the world works, which is what Geography does. If you can, try to take a job that enables you to have that width of approach that Geography encourages rather than being pigeon-holed. I’m sad when I see geographers who have narrowed down to become very restricted professionals in a very specific niche in accountancy or something – that seems to me to be a bit of a waste of the wide-angled view that Geography affords you. Keep your horizons wide and I think, fundamentally, follow your interests. Also don’t hesitate to move if you don’t like it – life’s too short to continue doing something that isn’t right for you so if you get the opportunity to move on, don’t hesitate. The flexible approach to employment these days means that people aren’t going to worry if you’ve just spent a year somewhere whereas in my days if you’d been through 3 or 4 jobs, you’d have thought that that person couldn’t hold a job down. Geography is a great subject and I have never, ever for one minute regretted having read it – it gives you a wide-angle view and, despite the fact that, as we said at the beginning, it might be seen as being ‘on the margins’, it is actually a very good and very useful subject to read. ■
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Modernist Urbanism: Examining the geographies of the planned city By Zoe Osterloh, Third Year HSPS Student at Newnham
Anyone who has ever spent a little time walking around Cambridge will be no stranger to 20th-century modernist planning. Compared to King’s College Chapel or the charm of the Market Square, it’s perhaps unsurprising that few people are espousing the aesthetic wonder of the Sidgwick Site, University Library or Churchill College. These modernist buildings are only small blips on the Cambridge landscape, but elsewhere in the world, caught up in the high-modernism of the 20th century, grand visionary architects planned, and in some cases even built, entirely new modernist cities, precisely designed to eradicate the squalor, disease and unrest that came as part and parcel of 19th century urban living. The architects may have dreamed of utopia, but how did the first residents actually react to living in a modernist city? ▶
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Growing up in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, modernist architects would have experienced, or at the very least been aware of, the disadvantages of city life - a combination of high density housing and poor hygiene often lead to outbreaks of disease, such as Hamburg’s 1892 cholera epidemic. The sensible solution to these problems, according to modernists, was an entirely different kind of city life. One of the leading figures of high-modernist urban design from the 1920s to the 1960s, Le Corbusier believed that “where order reigns, wellbeing begins.” As such, his plans were, above anything else, simple in nature: he used clean, repetitive lines, favouring the right-angled intersections of the grid system. He also argued for the principle of strict functional separation, with different zones for workplaces, living, shopping and government activity. Moreover, Le Corbusier advocated “the death of the street,” arguing that separating pedestrians and vehicles would increase efficiency and safety, policing would become easier, whilst residential tower blocks would remove life from the pollution, noise and dust of the street. Le Corbusier applied the logic of the factory to city life, and he believed that residents would enjoy being a cog in the machine. Yet for the residents of such cities, life wasn’t quite so simple. The inhabitants of Brasilia, the closest built example of a high-modernist city, expressed feelings of
“Le Corbusier believed that “where order reigns, well-being begins.” unhappiness and loneliness. Failing to warm to the homogeneity and isolation of apartment buildings, they coined the term “Brasilite” (Brasilia-itis) to explain the anonymity and monotony of life in the city. Brasilia may have been radically designed, with zones spatially segregated and streets and squares, the sites of everyday interactions, eliminated, but it failed to transform the minds of residents. James C. Scott, the author of Seeing Like a State, recounts how when a class of primary-school-aged children were asked to draw a “home,” all drew a traditional detached house, despite never having lived in one. Moreover, the spatial segregation actually ensured the continuation of class boundaries, with elites congregating in the centre and the poor confined to the peripheries - wealthy residents simply circumvented the state ownership of apartment buildings by building private houses. Eradicating the street, and chance human interactions, does not just cause residents unhappiness. One of the most influential critiques of Le Corbusier came from Jane Jacobs, who argued that the “chaotic” street, where neighbours can meet and
watch out for each other, makes communities safer, not more dangerous. Unlike Le Corbusier, Jacobs thought that functionality could not be derived from aesthetic order, but rather that order must be found at a deeper or more intrinsic level. She believed that a multiplicity of functions was vital both socially and economically purely business zones would essentially shut down outside of working hours, for example. Finally, one key problem that Jacobs associated with urban plans was their static nature - built for one moment in time and unwilling to change. As times move on, and technologies change, the needs of residents and the purpose of cities changes also. Many urban plans fail to allow necessary adaptation, such as for unpredictable population growth. For this reason, many prefer the unplanned city, created slowly over time in a necessarily higgledy-piggledy fashion by different people with different intentions, to the planned city. High-modernist planners may have had grand and noble intentions. They hoped to banish the disease, disorder and squalor of 19th century urban life. Such visionary plans made sense to architects such as Le Corbusier, who took a negative view of the city, and of the society it creates. But ultimately, the end result was cities that were disliked by their own residents. To make sense in practice, and not just in theory, cities must be multifunctional and adaptable - able to change alongside the needs of its occupants.■ LENT 2019 | COMPASS | 19
Geographies of Education By Anjali Gupta, Third Year Geographer at Emmanuel
Education is inherently geographical: a phenomenon bounded and controlled by the nation-state, it has profound implications for the formation of identities on both a community and individual scale. Its evolution throughout time can be analysed in relation to society’s - with pertinent debates surrounding the marketisation of education becoming entangled in the system through neoliberal ideologies and governance. Such ideas can be propagated and reinforced via schooling and schools, and we cannot neglect the potential impact that educators can have on prevailing discourses and narratives in society. Its scalar variation is also interesting, with the hierarchies of education becoming closely linked to issues of power and politics. The broad lens of Geography can lend itself to analyse all kinds of facets of society, however in this instance it is not only apt, but incredibly useful. Despite the value that such studies could bring to the discipline, it is rarely explored in depth within the literature.
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So where have we seen educative themes before? Well, we can begin with Foucault himself, seeing the school as a disciplinary institution with close ties to the state, or refer to Geography’s own Linda McDowell, discussing the role of schooling on masculinities and future prospects for workingclass boys. Let us take History education as a key example of the ways in which Geographers are well placed to offer insights. Heated debates surround the History curriculum in the UK which came to a head in 2013, when Michael Gove announced a new, chronological, curriculum. His idea was to start with the dawn of humankind in reception, and keep going until the World Wars were completed by GCSE. It was tailored to be suitably patriotic, seeking to instill a sense of pride in Britain’s history and be used as a tool for building national identity through a shared heritage. As you can imagine, the backlash was significant, with over 14,000 complaints being registered by teachers and campaigners alike. As stated by Eric Hobsbawm, a patriotic curriculum is difficult
in the UK because it requires “too much belief in what is patently not so”. An unrealistic representation of historical issues such as the slave trade or colonialism would serve not only to alienate those students who are not reflected in the story, or, even more dangerously, reinforce stereotypes that could only have harmful ramifications later on. Hence this one, seemingly small, part of education in general, is located in the eye of an intellectual storm with escalating impacts. Another geographical theme reflected in this educational debacle is activism and active citizenship. Those teachers who complained succeeded in influencing government policy in 2013, working
collectively and through certain repertoires to create meaningful change. This is further reflected in the existence of civil society groups, such as the Black and Asian Studies Association, who work tirelessly in order to influence the government and exam boards to
include more diverse histories of migration and global change on the curriculum. Heritage groups and NGOs are intensely involved in education at all levels, as well as filling gaps left by the government as it has retreated through austerity. People are trying to counter the inequality that is growing in our current climate - using schemes such as mentoring in order to make a difference to disadvantaged students. Unfortunately, as well as providing an opportunity to demonstrate active citizenship, inequality in society is rooted in education - yet another actuality that Geography could help to understand. This brings us onto neoliberal educations, which needs no introduction to university students in 2019 who are seemingly accumulating debt even with the mere thought of
“The school as an institution serves to create a whole person - not just to fill a brain.”
attending a lecture. What started as charging for university has in fact trickled down the education ecosystem - now we can see how privatised secondary education is becoming - even in the state sector. Multi-Academy Trusts are conglomerates of state schools, often being run centrally and sometimes privately-owned. It has been argued that they remove the individuality of schools, dictating not only the system by which they are run but even the content that is taught. They may improve efficiency and exam results but it removes power from teachers, alongside their ability to tailor what they teach in order to stimulate and interest pupils. The specification of too much content and emphasis on rote learning invites further study too - are students simply viewed as future “human capital”?
Lessons in behaviour, interaction and citizenship are taught outside of the classroom, and the school as an institution serves to create a whole person - not just to fill a brain. Overall, many aspects of Geography can be applied to the study of education, and I think the two disciplines interact far more than is evidenced by the literature. They intersect and interweave: political, social and economic themes are evident in education as we know it today. Geographic study could centre on the school and expand upwards and downwards in the educative hierarchy, there is ample room to explore the power dynamics and wider societal ramifications of them. ■
It is not only the academic part of school that shapes who we are and what we become. So many topics in Geography trace back to what we have been taught through interactions with society, and how many of those things are misleading. Sociocultural Theory dictates that our surroundings mould us into the people we are today - but we don’t acknowledge how many hundreds of formative hours we spend in school throughout childhood and adolescence.
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Is citizen science the future of research in the Himalayan region? By Beth Barker, Geographer at St Catherine’s, 2015-2018
“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” -Mahatma Gandhi As a child, a frosty weekend at the end of January always brought the ‘Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ (RSPB) annual Big Garden Birdwatch. We would set up the camp chairs, grab a thermos of hot chocolate and wrap up warm to count garden birds. For my brother and I, filling in and posting our tally to the RSPB was a proud moment and even though we did not know at the time, we were participating in citizen science. The RSPB claim that their Big Garden Birdwatch is the biggest wildlife survey in the world, it has provided 39 years of data on the population trends and spatial distribution of British garden birds and also engages the British public.
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‘Citizen Science is the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collective project with professional scientists’ (Oxford English Dictionary). The term was first used in the mid-1990s; however, the concept is older much than that. Citizen science has gained recent popularity through its use in disaster mapping. For example, after the 2015 Nepal earthquake, OpenStreetMap helped thousands of volunteers from around the world to turn satellite imagery into maps. The maps identified passable roads and badly impacted areas and were used by humanitarian organisations to deploy aid more effectively. Citizen science is gaining some momentum in other research areas too, including natural resource management in the Himalayan region. For example, the Grantham Institute (Imperial College London) carried out a project where they used Citizen science to investigate water insecurity in the Upper Kaligandaki Basin, Nepal. The local people derive a lot of their water from snowfall which is becoming less reliable. The Institute asked the local citizens to monitor water resources, land-use change and resource management practices. This data was then use for better decision-making, leading to more a sustainable water management system. My three-months with the Centre for Ecology, Development and Research (CEDAR) has reacquainted me with citizen science, which is central to the NGO’s research approach. CEDAR is a boundary-spanning research organisation which focuses on tackling the challenges of natural resource management ◀ Citizens of Nainital collecting water from a public source. The photograph was taken as part of CEDAR’s urban water security research. Source: CEDAR.
The OpenStreetMap contribution to mapping Nepal. The data created or updated by volunteers since the earthquake is in colour. Yellow is the newest data. Source: MAPBOX, OPENSTREETMAP.
in the Himalayan Region. I learnt from CEDAR’s Dr Vishal Singh, a translational ecologist, and his colleagues about their future plans for Citizen Science. For CEDAR, the citizen has always been a very important part of their research. Dr Singh described how he came from an academic background where citizens were kept out of any scientific debate, their knowledge was seldom used and their demands rarely considered. “I got interested in citizen science, not by reading about successful case studies, but by witnessing the value added to our research by talking to citizens” explained Singh. Most recently CEDAR has been applying citizen science to their urban water security research in Uttarakhand (a relatively new state in India). In response to growing concerns amongst some citizens about water shortages in their rapidly urbanising towns, CEDAR carried out research in Nainital, Mussoorie and Haldwani. CEDAR involved citizens in the collection of primary and secondary data including drain mapping, water level monitoring and photographic evidence. The next stage was sharing the results with local stakeholders and receiving feedback.
“A very important aspect of this consultation process is presenting the research in an accessible way without the scientific jargon and putting it on multiple platforms, including social media so that it reaches a wide audience” said Singh. Following consultations, it was the citizens, supported by CEDAR, who took the research forward to the policymakers and pushed for implementation. Riyan Habeeb, an urban planner and CEDAR researcher, explained that “using a citizen science approach gives the citizens, the end users of natural resources, ownership of the research and ultimately leads to far more impactful research.” Citizen science has many advantages which make it attractive to researchers. First, it increases stakeholder engagement in scientific research. Scientific issues permeate many public policy issues and therefore, good scientific literacy amongst citizens is important. Furthermore, engagement in research means that researchers become more accountable to the public; they must strive to fulfil their objectives and make their research useful for citizens. In this way, citizens can influence the research agenda and make it work for them, rather than the being neutral recipients of scientific knowledge. For example, the
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World Park Congress BioBlitz held an event at the Sydney Olympic Park in 2014 and invited scientists, adults and children to become citizen scientists for a day. Participants collected data on urban biodiversity using the iNaturalist App and even recorded some species which were new to the area. This event collected useful data, engaged the public and allowed citizens to express their priorities for urban conservation. This is something strongly advocated by CEDAR, “our research questions are demand driven, they are not based on what we are thinking behind closed doors in our office”, stated Singh. A second major advantage is that citizen science is a cost-effective approach which allows a large quantity of data to be collected, on a spatial and temporal scale that a small research group could not achieve. “We live in a time where a lot of data is needed and citizen science can meet this requirement” said CEDAR researcher Anvita Pandey. Modern technology has been a game changer in this respect; as Manya Singh, a budding researcher at CEDAR, said “a phone can now do tasks that previously needed a whole lab”. Anyone with a smartphone or computer can collect and submit data. For example, in India, the number of smartphone users is now 339.95 million; this rise in smart technology has unleashed the potential for citizen science across India. However, possibly the greatest triumph for citizen science is that it challenges the tyranny of scientific experts. For a long time, the scientific discipline has maintained its pedestal by building a strict boundary between scientific knowledge and other forms of knowledge. This relies on the received wisdom that scientific knowledge
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is free from human error and should be accepted above simple anecdotal stories coming for local ‘non-scientific people’. Citizen science challenges this received wisdom, it shows that the citizen can meaningfully contribute to research. “Local knowledge has evolved over ages, it is not simply gathered over a short period of time during an experiment” commented Yashi Gupta, who specialises in human-forest relationships at CEDAR. Dr Singh explained that he believes, “local knowledge is not respected because it is not validated. Therefore, efforts should be made to validate it through citizen science, not simply dismiss it.” However, citizen science is not without its critics. For example, David Weinberger from the Berkman Centre for the Internet and Society at Harvard University said, “These people are not doing the work of scientists...they are doing the work of scientific instruments”. These comments represent a pervasive perception that the data collected by citizens will be of a lower standard and that citizens can only carry out simple data collection because they are not ‘scientists’ with ‘scientific training’. This perception is bolstered by those publications which will not publish papers which contain research collected by citizens. Singh commented that “this is particularly a problem in South Asia; I think often people do not consider citizens as important The barefoot march undertaken by over 1000 citizens in June 2017 to raise awareness for the degradation of Naini lake and to demand action from decision makers.
sources. So, there is still a battle to be won. But we are starting to see some change.” However, citizens must be involved in a meaningful manner and not just included for cosmetic reasons, as many committees tend to do. CEDAR believes that citizens can collect good quality data and that they “often spot gaps in the research, not seen by our researchers because they have a different perspective” explained Manya. This is echoed by the Office of Environment and Heritage (Australia) who, in 2018, reviewed several papers investigating the quality of citizen science data and found that volunteers consistently perform equally or almost as well as professionals in many research areas. Furthermore, observer error and sampling bias are present in all observational data, not just the data collected by citizens. Citizen science should not be understood as a challenge to scientific expertise but rather a way of enhancing research in terms of scale and local specialisation. “It offers a collaborative research approach which is likely to far more transformative on the ground for many research areas. The success of a scientist is often measured in the number of papers they publish not by the usefulness of their research. This needs to change” stressed Singh. However, it is important not to romanticise citizen science, it is not without its challenges. First, citizen scientists need to
be recruited and trained. This takes significant initial resources and time. Furthermore, it can be difficult to maintain engagement as citizens have many other commitments and this can cause inconsistency in the data collection. The safety net for this phenomenon is that the large dataset should overcome these anomalies. However, the observation that humans are inherently short-termist may explain why citizen science has been used more successfully in responding to humanitarian crises, like the Nepal Earthquake, than when used in longer term research projects. For many researchers mobilizing citizens to engage with problems like climate change where action is required now but the main crisis phase feels distant can be challenging. Therefore, citizen science should not be embarked upon without thorough thought about how to maintain commitment and high standards. One final caveat is that although technology offers an efficient approach to data collection, it can exclude some citizens. Some people may choose not to use smart technology or may not have access to it. If these citizens are excluded the research quality may suffer. Therefore, any research group embarking on citizen science must carefully consider their approach to citizen recruitment and data collection to make it accessible to citizens of different social backgrounds. Careful planning and significant resources will certainly be required for CEDAR’s plans for citizen science. CEDAR would like to build an online multifunctional platform focused on water security for cities across the Indian Himalayan region. It would serve as a data depository for climatic data, critical water zone maps and water supplydemand figures. “There is so much valuable data gathering
Dr Vishal Singh speaking live on Radio Khushi, a community radio station about urban water security. This was an initiative setup to increase communication with stakeholders.
dust in government offices. Access needs to be open so that citizens can become informed and approach the right decision makers” commented Pandey. CEDAR also plans for there to be online forums containing experts, stakeholders and decision makers where open discussions can take place. “One crucial element would be recruiting citizen leaders for each city who can spread awareness for the platform and facilitate its use” emphasised Singh. This PanHimalayan platform would also contain stories, news reports and demystified academic papers. Dr Singh asserted that it is an incredibly ambitious idea which would take time, technological expertise and a huge commitment from CEDAR. However, the possibilities are endless, for example such a platform could be used for crowd-sourced mapping of forest fires and biodiversity. He adds “If this collaborative platform was achieved it would transform research and behaviour, it would create ownership and it would be a major contribution to sustainable development in the Himalayan region.”
Citizen science has a huge amount of potential as shown by the many successful examples of its use across the world. One could argue that it is the right and only way to do some research, particularly into human management of natural. The scientific discipline has remained bounded for too long, rejecting multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder approaches and keeping its research locked up in academic papers. This was a major frustration during my time at University; I found myself constantly having to justify the multidisciplinary approach which Geography brings to the sciences to those who still believe Geography is a secondary subject and that scientific issues are best handled by scientists. There should be space for both approaches. It is time the scientific community fully embraced new research approaches like citizen science. CEDAR believes that “Scientific research should be done for society and that the future of science lies with the citizens.” While I completely support CEDAR’s emphasis on citizen science, I think there is still a long way to go in really making science accessible to all citizens. For example, at one stakeholder meeting I attended in India there were no women present apart from CEDAR’s female researchers. I suspect the more vulnerable and less empowered members of society are still being left out. Therefore, I believe CEDAR must continue to reach out to every corner of the community and in particular work hard to give silenced members of society a platform for their voices. Without this emphasis on inclusion CEDAR’s citizen science will be limited to the privileged few and not that different from the status quo. Therefore, it will only be the future of research in the Himalayan region if it is truly inclusive citizen science. ■
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On Ozone and Optimisation:
Building Machine Learning Parameterisations to Speed Up Climate Change Simulations By Ellie Ong, Third Year Physics Student at Jesus College, Oxford
The distribution of ozone is highly variable, and can be inﬂuenced by factors such as stratospheric circulation and catalytic cycles in which CFC breaks down ozone molecules. This modulation in ozone concentrations has a significant inﬂuence on radiative feedbacks, atmospheric dynamics and the biosphere. Therefore, changes in ozone (‘ozone feedbacks’) play a significant role in climate change simulations, affecting climate sensitivity estimates and atmospheric dynamical responses. In reality, comprehensive atmospheric chemistry models needed for calculating ozone feedbacks are notoriously expensive. Calculations of atmospheric ozone concentrations involve looking at around 160 chemical species, whose concentrations are themselves complexly interlinked with each other. Even on the fastest supercomputers (which can compute a quadrillion calculations per second), the computational time for General Circulation Models is around 6 months without comprehensive ozone calculations – this time could increase threefold if we were to include them. Thus, only 26 | COMPASS | LENT 2019
periodic ozone values averaged over time, otherwise known as climatologies, are used in current major modelling projects, rather than an interactive ozone chemistry scheme. One may ask: What is wrong with using averaged ozone values? Why must we include the more nuanced ozone variations?
of the ENSO cycle, a climate mode that is pivotal to global climate and weather. There have also been other studies showing that excluding interactive ozone chemistry schemes would affect the modelling of other major atmospheric circulation and oscillation patterns. An accurate representation of the changing climate is of utmost importance in predicting future climate trajectories, and leaving out ozone changes can have significant effects on climate projections, which ultimately has an impact on decisionmaking by and between governments. There is clearly a need to develop faster methods to represent ozone feedbacks consistently in simulations, as well as to find a balance between computational speed and accuracy.
“An accurate representation of the changing climate is As pointed out of utmost in a letter to Nature (Nowack importance et al., 2014), in predicting not only does the omission future climate of these ozone changes limit trajectories, the studies that can be carried and leaving out out using ozone changes comprehensive modelling of can have ozone, it also significant has serious consequences effects” in standard ‘climate sensitivity’ simulations. This is especially true for global warming projections, as ozone feedbacks respond to modiﬁcations within atmospheric circulation under climate change. Ozone feedback also appears to be a major contributor to the uncertainty in future changes
To tackle this particular issue, I helped improve on a machine-learning regression algorithm to develop representations (‘parameterisations’) of ozone feedbacks during a summer internship at Imperial College London. As one of the simplest forms of machine-learning, this regression method captures the relationship between temperature input data and ozone concentrations during the ‘training’ of the algorithm, similar to drawing a line-of-best-fit through a series of data points. This relationship, or ‘line-of-bestfit’, can then be applied to unseen data to predict ozone feedbacks, without having to compute the concentrations of the hundred-odd chemical species that could interact with ozone. This parameterisation is a promising approach to optimising the accuracy and speed of ozone feedback calculations, providing an alternative to the common use of ﬁxed ozone climatologies in idealised simulations, without adding the high computational cost of comprehensive ozone models. However, as with many experiments, these methods are not always successful. With a particular focus on ensuring the transferability of the ozone parameterisation from one climate model to another, our eventual aim is to be able to predict the output of chemistry schemes using a parameterisation trained on another scheme, as climate models developed by different
teams can produce different results even when given the same starting conditions. Although certain variations of the basic algorithm have succeeded when looking at pre-industrial conditions, differences in carbon dioxide forcing have increased the difficulty of the problem. When engineering parameterisations using past data, new forcing mechanisms are unlikely to be taken into account. Hence, adjustments would have to be made and other methods attempted. Machine learning is extremely useful, but it is most definitely not an all-purpose tool. It does not have the magical ability to fix broken puzzle pieces in the complex jigsaw that are general circulation models. Progress in this intersection of machine learning and atmospheric science, like in the rest of the sciences, can be incremental and undergo significant trial and error. Regardless, it is exciting to see how such methods are entering the world of climate modelling, possibly enabling the efficient representations of processes that otherwise would not be included, or maybe using causal networks as a method of analysing relationships between them. Climate modelling is a fundamental part of the collective effort in tackling global warming and climate change. Looking at the bigger picture, the whole field of climate modelling is still growing: from just
atmospheric and oceanic modelling back in the 1960s, to the representation of biogeochemical cycles in the 2000s, and to the inclusion of atmospheric chemistry schemes starting in the 2010s and the budding uses of machine-learning within all this. Adaptation and mitigation efforts are informed by our ability to extrapolate future regional and global climate change effectively, efficiently and accurately. With scientists piecing the jigsaw together, and policymakers acting on their insights, one day we may be able to see an ever more complete picture of a planet that we all cherish. ■
This summer project was funded by the Laidlaw Scholars Programme at the University of Oxford Careers Service, with supervision by Peer Nowack and hosted by the Department of Physics and Grantham Institute, Imperial College London. References: Nowack, P., Braesicke, P., Haigh, J., Abraham, N., Pyle, J. and Voulgarakis, A. (2018). Using machine learning to build temperature-based ozone parameterizations for climate sensitivity simulations. Environmental Research Letters, 13(10), p.104016. Nowack, P., Luke Abraham, N., Maycock, A., Braesicke, P., Gregory, J., Joshi, M., Osprey, A. and Pyle, J. (2014). A large ozonecirculation feedback and its implications for global warming assessments. Nature Climate Change, 5(1), pp.41-45.
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‘Bring the kids and the wellies’: The Value of the Outdoor Classroom for Geography Education.
By John Hartshorne, Director of Albion Outdoors: Fieldwork and Ecology There is ample evidence for the continued disassociation of children – and older people – from the natural world. The classroom, rammed with technology and smart boards, is now a comfort zone for most young people. Even teachers regard the process of taking children outside to learn about geography and biology as an additional burden of organisation and form-filling. But how can we seriously teach physical geography or ecology on a smart board? I work for Albion Outdoors, an outdoor learning centre 28 | COMPASS | LENT 2019
in Northumberland. All our qualified teachers have the experience to develop courses which capture the interest of young people as well as fulfilling the curriculum - addressing this crucial disconnect that the younger generation are facing in a fun and engaging manner. We offer single day and residential field trips throughout the North-East for all phases of education. Each course is individually developed to address the
needs of the students and staff. It may be taxonomy, coastal processes, statistics, or even prescribed practicals for A- level students. Northumberland is a fabulous place to work in. It contains a full range of river systems, the Whin Sill ridge, Lindisfarne, magnificent coastal geomorphology, the final stronghold of the red squirrel, the igneous complex of Cheviot, and extensive peat lands. The region also faces some complex ecological
◀ Coring the mire: taking a peat core on the marshland.
challenges, including attempts to mitigate the impeding effect of Kielder reservoir on salmon migration, and the controversial potential for opencast coal mining and gravel extraction. The list could go on and on – I will not even mention fracking!
“These first-hand experiences of the outdoors offer a completely different way of learning, that helps children to reconnect with nature.”
At Albion Outdoors we try to demonstrate the relevance of ecology and geography in education, for example getting kids involved with monitoring and tracking roe deer and red squirrels. They also undertake botanical survey work and upload the data onto the National Biodiversity Network Gateway, enabling students to see the value of the work they do with us. Moving onto human geographies, they can witness the impact of historical lead mining in the Allen Valley and its continuing phytotoxicity. They can speak to forestry rangers who cull the deer, and appreciate that conservation is the result
of effective management a careful balancing act in a crucial and inherently spatialised debate. These first-hand experiences of the outdoors offer a completely different way of learning – a way that helps children to reconnect with the natural world, something that is chronically absent from today’s education system. ■
Fun in the Northumberland dunes
Peat is one of the key issues that we focus on. We link it to carbon capture and have a peat auger which is capable of coring right though the mire to the boulder clay below. Children are fascinated when we bring up pieces of perfectly preserved timber that are at least 7000 years old. We access a wide range of habitats through negotiated access with the Forestry Commission, National Trust, Northumberland National Park, Northumberland Wildlife Trust and other land owners. The involvement of these stakeholders displays the interest of the wider community in getting students outside and rekindling that connection with nature. LENT 2019 | COMPASS | 29
The fact and fiction of wildlife in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Interview by Eswyn Chen, First Year Geographer at Wolfson 30 | COMPASS | LENT 2019
Meet the Grad: Eswyn Chen interviews PhD student Jonathon Turnbull, discussing his PhD on the flora and fauna thriving in the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power station site in northern Ukraine.
Autumn in Pripyat, Ukraine. Hugh Mitton
EC: What is your PhD on? JT: My PhD project is on the wildlife that has emerged in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, and the human-animal relations and practices of care that have emerged there with it. In particular, I’m interested in three members of the Canid family – dogs, wolves and foxes that now dwell in the Nuclear Disaster Zone. The project takes Chernobyl as an example of the increasingly common contaminated environments that populate the Anthropocene world – our current era in which humans have become a planetchanging force. Animals are often the ones left to dwell amidst these contaminated ruins, and it is a phenomenon of the Anthropocene that toxic waste dumps are home to particularly endangered animals. These wasteland sites are therefore not empty or desolate but often filled with animal and plant life; for some, the nature in Chernobyl can be considered to be flourishing. These sites may even play a role in conservation, as can be seen on the Belarusian side of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, which spans both the Ukraine and Belarus. So how do we relate to the ‘contaminated Canids’ in these spaces? How might we practice care towards them under contaminated circumstances? And what might the role of contaminated sites be in conservation? EC: What brought you to this topic? Is there anything from your degree at Oxford that initially inspired you to take on this project?
JT: Animal(s’) geographies was the sub-discipline of my Geography training that captivated me most, and I knew I always wanted to do research in this field. I was lucky enough to conduct my master’s thesis on sacred cows in India. When I decided to do a PhD, I wanted to tell another unique animal story; the weirdness and unfamiliarity of the nature at Chernobyl drew me in immediately. EC: Can you tell us about the fieldwork? JT: I’m currently developing my fieldwork plans. I’ll be spending the month of June in Chernobyl with some scientists that are working with the birds. Mainly, though, I will be spending time with the Clean Futures Fund – a US-based NGO that runs the ‘Dogs of Chernobyl’ project. With them, I will be supporting their work as an assistant as they catch, spay and neuter the dogs, and I will be logging information on the impacts that the radiation is having on the dogs. I hope to also spend time with tourists and tour guides in the Zone, understanding how they relate to the foxes and other animals they encounter in the Zone. And finally, I will be working with people that track the wolves and monitor their populations and radiation exposure in the Zone to understand how the wolves themselves are dwelling in Chernobyl and beyond. EC: In what shape may we expect to see the wildlife, especially the Canids, in Chernobyl? JT: The dogs have a very interesting history. They are rumoured to be the descendants of the dogs that were abandoned in 1986 during the evacuation of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and thus ‘went feral’ before going ‘sort of wild’ before being redomesticated as they came back into contact with people and
workers in the Zone. The dogs’ life expectancy is lower than that of housed domestic dogs, and they are subject to predation by larger carnivores that inhabit the Zone. Their exposure to radiation in certain hotspots also means they carry radioactive material but the impacts on their genome and life are still being studied. Today, puppies are being rehomed in the USA by an NGO that brings vets to the Zone. I hope to work with this NGO during my fieldwork. The foxes occupy the liminal space between domestic and wild and it will be interesting to see how they’re inhabiting the Zone. There are a number of particularly friendly foxes that seem to exhibit unusually tame behaviours, coming to tourists and being fed by them. And finally, the wild wolves. Chernobyl has a population of wolves seven times greater than any of the surrounding uncontaminated nature reserves and a wolf has recently been tracked leaving the Zone and making its way into other parts of the surrounding areas. They seem to be healthy and populous in the Zone. Researchers have tracked the wolves and used dosimeters to monitor their radiation exposure simultaneously with their GPS-position. This will allow them to see how they move through differentially contaminated places to see if and how their health is affected. EC: Chernobyl has been quite extensively portrayed as a ‘postnuclear Eden’ by the media in recent years, as the wildlife there, freed from direct human pressure, seem to be flourishing. Where would you envision humans within such a paradoxical setting? JT: Whilst wildlife populations are ‘flourishing’ in numbers, it is still unclear as to how the effects of radiation (especially in ‘hot spots’) is affecting the health of individual animals.
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Wild fox in Pripyat, Ukraine, G. Meyer
This is a challenge for conservation as governing spaces of wildlife, especially contaminated ones, can involve trade-offs between population â€˜successâ€™ and individual health. The global phenomenon of finding endangered animals in toxic waste sites poses conundrums for clean-up projects and conservationists, which can be brought into strange and difficult conflicts. So, the role of humans in these paradoxical settings, of which Chernobyl is a prime example, is extremely interesting. Key questions emerge surrounding the responsibility of humans to care for the animals and to conserve wildlife more generally, as well as their role in de-toxifying the space to avoid further contamination and
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These wasteland sites are not empty or desolate but often filled with animal and plant life; for some, the nature in Chernobyl can be considered to be flourishing.
leakage outside the Zone. This was exemplified neatly in the mediaâ€™s response to the wolf that recently transgressed the Zone and was represented as a mutant that could spread genes to the adjacent wolf populations. The main human-wildlife relations that emerge in Chernobyl are through tourism, scientific researchers, the aforementioned NGO, as well as the 100 or so residents that continue to live in the Zone. Each group interacts differently with the wildlife for various reasons. So, the place of humans within this paradoxical setting is varied and will continue to change as more research is conducted. The most interesting part is negotiating the balance of responsibility, conservation
and care for the ‘wildlife haven’ as it continues to emerge and ‘flourish’, if that is what it’s doing. EC: Nuclear disaster-ridden places like Chernobyl are often depicted in science fiction and only made imaginable to many people through fictional writing. Are these literary productions of any value to you in your research? JT: Jamie Lorimer wrote somewhere that Jan Zalasiewicz, chair of the Anthropocene Working Group, remarked, “the scientific question of the Anthropocene can only be answered through an act of science fiction”. So, these narratives are often very useful in thinking through and even anticipating how we might interact with and govern these
spaces of contamination. Mutants feature heavily in sci-fi narratives of post-apocalyptic nuclear landscapes and offer a route into thinking about how we might care for and be responsible for the lives of animals that must dwell in the anthropogenic ruinous spaces of contamination. Jeff VanderMeer’s writing is particularly inspiring. His use of the ‘new weird’ in his stories, including The Strange Bird, allow for a certain capacity to transcend the human-animal divide and to understand the shared worlds in which we live. The Southern Reach Trilogy is also very interesting; depicting Area X, an uninhabited and abandoned area in the USA that ‘Nature’ has begun to reclaim. The similarities with Chernobyl are striking,
which helps in figuring out how human-animal interactions are place specific, and how life will continue in some shape of form with or without the presence of humans – this appreciation of otherness is particularly important in the current era of extinction and ecological homogenisation. Stories like this can also create networks of people that are interested in a particular place, issue or event. They are useful for inspiring change in the world. As part of the project, I hope to collaborate on a film about the Chernobyl Canids to tell a particular story to raise awareness of the impacts of contaminated spaces on animals as they continue to proliferate in the Anthropocene. ■
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Welsh? In Patagonia? By Ben Peart, Third Year Geographer at Trinity Hall
Welsh? In Patagonia? I hear you asking. I didn’t realise there were Welsh settlers here until this time last year, and I would never have thought I would visit their settlements. My dissertation research probably took me further south than any other Part II Geographer, but south doesn’t mean hot. July in Cambridge was so warm, the summer heatwave meant ice creams from Aromi, swimming at Grantchester and picnics on Jesus Green. Only a short while later, I was skiing, hiking and sitting in tea shops eating Welsh cake in the Andean foothills of Argentina.
Dissertation research doesn’t just mean work – far from it. You become a proper geographer, an explorer, and have lots of time for fun and interesting experiences. I spent a week in Buenos Aires on the way to Patagonia, sightseeing, dancing the tango and even took the ferry to Uruguay for the day. It certainly is a city with character,
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though I advise you go with a friend in their summer months for the best experience. It’s a real city – crime is common – I suffered an attempted mugging in La Boca neighbourhood - do your risk assessment kids and have zip-up pockets! Buenos Aires was character building and I would love to have spent more time there, but escaping to the mountains seemed to be a world away. Landing in Esquel, I didn’t know what I had got myself in for. Barren scrub smothered the ground, and a wooden shed like building was the terminal building. The 100-seater plane dwarfed the terminal, and there was no city of Esquel to be seen! There was next to nothing on the roadside during the 30 minute journey from the airport to the city, just bulbous hills sporadically placed, and long
brush-strokes of dirty green across the entire landscape. This was my home for a week. I went skiing, visited an indigenous settlement via steam train and explored the national park, as well as interviewing Welsh descendants, teachers of Welsh, and those in the community. Wandering the city, people-watching, and chatting to locals filled up the rest of my week. I felt a lot safer here, even though constant protest was occurring and our bus to the ski resort was actually stopped by these protestors, who refused to let us pass. My next stop was Trevelin, a Welsh village in the Andes located about 20km away. I spent my third week here. The people were so friendly, inviting me to their homes, driving me around the landscape and showing me around the town.
They talked at length on their Welsh heritage and identity, the relationship with the Mapuche people, and more generally about their lives and experiences. I had plenty of time to explore, going on long walks, climbing the hills and even visiting Chile (only 50km away) for one day. The landscapes are what stays with me most vividly â€“ one morning I met a Welsh descendant before sunrise and I interviewed him in his car, on his way to his family farm. Just as we were ascending the hill towards Trevelin, the sun rose, and the spectacular valley below was illuminated in gold and orange. The landscape is so dramatic â€“ Wales on steroids, no wonder the Welsh settlers chose here. â–
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A makeover for the beauty industry?
By Charlotte Brinkley, Third Year Geographer at Trinity Hall “But what exactly did you do for your dissertation?” This is a question I’ve been asked a lot since returning from my three-week trip to New York, and I can completely understand why. Looking at ‘visual culture in the beauty industry’ doesn’t exactly sound like a research project, and certainly not one worthy of being fully funded. “So you just sat in Times Square and walked around Sephora for three weeks?” Mostly, yes.
A lot of my time in New York was spent walking in 34-degree heat taking photos of billboards, subway signs, store windows, product displays, and products themselves, to build a portfolio of the visual culture of beauty in New York City. I also spent quite a lot of time scrolling on Instagram, again searching for images which were in any way beauty related, which has surprisingly become a very significant part of my research. But I also managed to attend two trade shows, speak to the Senior Vice President of Yves Saint Laurent Beauty, interview two professors at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and bag some samples of makeup from some of the PR companies
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I also interviewed. I came home with information on all the latest and future beauty trends, a bunch of interviews with various members of the beauty and cosmetic industry, and a lot of images needing to be meticulously analysed over the following term. Apart from conducting interviews, then, my research process was quite unstructured. One of the perks of this kind of research was being out and about all day, every day, meaning that most days I didn’t have to choose between being a tourist and being a student. I managed to see the sights without really trying. The PR and Advertising agencies I visited were quite literally all over the place, so I was always hopping on and off the metro between the different districts, which also meant that I managed to stumble across some of New York’s best food spots as I travelled around the city. Being a huge Cake Boss fan, I couldn’t resist popping into Carlo’s Bakery for a slice of cake the size of my face. Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown served me the best crispy chilli beef I’ve ever eaten, and I’ve been dreaming of Junior’s famous cheesecake every day since I’ve been back. When I wasn’t eating out, I’d instead eat a homemade lunch in either Bryant Park or Central Park. These pockets of greenery acted as the perfect refuge in a city which often felt overwhelming and at
times, quite alienating, but never enough for me to fall out of love with it. I feel extremely lucky to have been able to go to New York. I managed to experience so much in three weeks on top of my research. I attended my first Yankee’s game and pretended that I understood baseball for 4 hours, I managed to get tickets to see Drake and Migos at the Barclays Centre, and I nearly cried watching Childish Gambino perform in Madison Square Garden, all because my Director of Studies genuinely believed that my obsession with the beauty industry could somehow be turned into a dissertation. You can make anything geographical if you really try. Which leads onto one final question about my research: what’s the point? This is the question that I have had to justify the most. I haven’t yet been able to articulate this in 10,000 words, but I’m definitely getting there.
Despite being subject to significant criticism in the past, the beauty industry has undergone somewhat of a makeover in recent years, becoming the new face of celebration, self-expression, and empowerment. The beauty community has proliferated and diversified significantly, becoming the ultimate space for self-acceptance, as well as becoming a powerful platform for change. Far from being trivial, then, beauty is inherently political. The visual culture of beauty in its many manifestations therefore represents a set of complex, contradictory, and still contested discourses, which should definitely be acknowledged. Let’s just hope I can at least start to untangle these by the 23rd April. ■
The human experience is now more visual and visualised than ever before. Visual culture is not just part of our everyday lives – it is our everyday lives. Whilst some scholars and activists have begun to recognise the harm which can be caused by certain types of advertising, the everyday aesthetic experience is often overlooked as an object of study. Yet, it is precisely the benign nature of this aesthetic experience which makes it so potentially damaging, a fact which I have recognised more and more throughout my analysis of the visual culture of beauty.
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An All-Inclusive Holiday and the ‘Tourist Gaze’? By Anthony Gray, Music Student at Robinson, 2015-2018 & Molly Cook, Third Year Geographer at Robinson
We recently took the ultimate tourist plunge and went on our first all-inclusive holiday. The attraction of this is self-eminent in its ease and simplicity of organisation, as well as the joy of no stress about paying in local currencies and bartering on busy shop corners as you hold onto your bumbag just a little tighter. The resort itself, in Marrakech, Morocco, was not your typical all-inclusive destination by the sea with banana boating, ice cream aplenty, and a token Irish pub. Rather, we found ourselves inside a walled complex on the fringe of the bustling city, featuring a number of buildings all built to conform with a Western stereotype of north African architecture. The resort was abundant with luxuries (bottomless cocktails, allyou-can-eat meals, evening shows) but very secluded from the clear relative poverty and deprivation of the surrounding streets, through which our large air-conditioned coach 38 | COMPASS | LENT 2019
drove on day one. Whilst seeming like one’s perfect vision of a week doing not very much, Marrakech’s tourist industry was seemingly entangled in a problematic set of power relations. Our package deal was sold to us as an ‘immersive experience’, in which we could experience authentic Moroccan culture. It is true that the restaurant featured large tagines of wonderful local food packed with unfamiliar vegetables, meats and fishes. However, move along to the next counter, and you’re faced with large pepperoni pizzas, lasagnes and chips. Whilst giving the guest some of the experience of the local culture, it still very much felt like a peculiar novelty in the context of what one might expect from an all-inclusive holiday in destinations dominated by British tourism, such as Benidorm. The separate restaurant featuring ‘authentic local cuisine’ was a welcome addition. Here we ate from a traditional terracotta tagine
whilst a local man serenaded us with the music from an antique-looking lute. Yet, in the context of a walled complex clearly removed from its immediate surroundings, it felt like these local customs were being exploited for a distilled, tourist-friendly version. This was reinforced in the evening shows that we went to see, which were spectacularly dramatic, but presented performers from a variety of African, Asian and Australasian countries, selling difference and ‘the alien’ rather than true Moroccan heritage. It clearly pays to exploit the tourists’ curiosity, and simplify ideas of authenticity in the cultural imaginary. One facet of a luxury, allinclusive resort is that you simply do not have to leave the comfortable surroundings of it; everything is on hand. However, taking an excursion to the local city centre showed further how tourism had diluted local custom and practice, playing on Urry’s concept of the ‘tourist gaze’
and bringing MacCannell’s ‘back room’ to the centre of our attention. These two theoretical concepts describe techniques used in the tourist industry to cater for our consistent desire to experience true authenticity. Companies actively seek to reveal ‘every day, local life’, which often means it comes to be performed in order to make money. Although we chose not to join a larger group from the resort, who had a charismatic tour guide, but to experience the city’s labyrinth-esque souks ourselves, it was no surprise that the market was full of Western tourists, selling Western brands, Manchester United merchandise and knock-off Hugo Boss items. Men with monkeys outside the souk clamoured to have their domesticated helpers clamber over you, so that you might take a photo and pay him for the privilege. Our experience of this tourism model serves to create clear boundaries between the tourist and the
local population, therefore creating a significant divide between demographics, who are economically and socially disparate from the outset. As alluded to, much has been written on tourism and the effects it has on local populations, businesses and communities but it was striking to see it so startlingly in the flesh. Of course, once we’d removed our academic lenses, our Moroccan experience was highly enjoyable. One of the highlights of the trip was experiencing the beauty of the Moroccan landscape whilst quad-biking through the Atlas Mountains. We drank local tea, learnt about the fauna of the region, and had a break from Westernised Morocco. It is true that local villagers came speeding towards our procession of quad bikes, offering to sell jewels, gems and other handmade products from the local area, and evidencing that the tourist industry had even affected the tiniest of rural villages.
However, this felt far more like a genuine offering of local product and custom than in the souk. As such, there are clearly economic and perhaps sociological advantages to local economies embracing the tourist industry and even the all-inclusive model. However, there is a significant danger that this comes at a cost to the local culture and society. Some clearly benefit as jobs and economic growth expand greatly, but do local communities suffer from the pressure of constantly being on show? Do they worry everyday traditions will be forgotten and replaced by these packaged versions? Ultimately, that is for local people to comment on rather than us with our highly critical ‘academic gaze’. It is clear though, that travel companies make vast amounts of money from distilling local culture into a dose acceptable to the tourist looking for a week of stress-free luxury. ■
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The Search for an Identity in Britain By Hannah Mendall, Third Year Geographer at Fitzwilliam
BRIT(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging.
By Afua Hirsch, Jonathan Cape £16.99
British society has perhaps never been as divided as today. Within this landscape of division and divide, what does being and feeling British actually mean? Afua Hirsch engages in an honest, open and thought-provoking debate on identity politics and explores her connections to Britishness from the perspective of an ethnic minority woman, in her book BRIT(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging. The author begins by reflecting on a question which she has been asked throughout her life in Britain: “Where are you from?”. The author’s consideration of her ‘sense of place’ in Britain has not only been shaped by her nationality, but also by her ethnicity, class and gender. Hirsch’s paternal grandfather was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, and her maternal grandparents were political exiles from Ghana in the 1960s. She was raised in an affluent family in Wimbledon, and received a leading education from Oxford University. Given her background, Hirsch questions: why do people assume that she is not truly British?
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Hirsch’s personal experiences of living in Britain, where she receives countless questions about her ‘place’ in society, reinforce her belief that ‘Britishness’ as a national identity is in crisis. Through a series of examples, Hirsch argues that no one really understands what Britishness actually is, resulting in her feeling a lack of ‘home’ in Britain. She feels and decides that her true ‘place’ is in fact in Africa, given her mother’s ancestry. She outlines that she became increasingly connected to her cultural and ancestral ‘roots’ whilst living in Senegal and Ghana as The Guardian’s West Africa correspondent. She also (re)connects through marrying a Ghanian man. Underpinning this memoir is one of Hirsch’s central arguments: identities, in the face of threat, do not collapse, but instead grow stronger. It was only through experiencing alienation that Hirsch reunited herself with her family’s heritage, and found the ‘home’ for which she had longed. Whilst relocating to Africa for several years enabled Hirsch to reconnect with her ‘roots’, this does not resolve her negative feelings of ‘otherness’ living in Britain “I’ve grown up feeling alienated and othered in my own home [Britain].” She explores this in relation to her upbringing, where several particularly uncomfortable moments surfaced during her education. In History, the students were taught about the arrival of Caribbean people on the Empire Windrush in 1948, forcing white Britons to encounter a hidden colonial history for the first time. The author also recounts how lessons about William Wilberforce were taught with the impression that the British only took part in the transatlantic slave trade so they could later abolish it.
Over time, Hirsch’s sense of alienation in Britain has intensified. The author’s university experiences in Oxford were tainted by casual racism. When entering into Oxford colleges, the Porters would stop and ask for her ID card as proof that she ‘belonged’ to the university. Her white friends were not questioned. Such incidents generated a feeling of ‘otherness’ and the wealth of examples resonates with Paul Gilroy’s (1987) earlier book, There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack. The vicissitudes, challenges, and prejudice faced by Britain’s black community are still alive, thirty years later. To conclude, Afua Hirsch brings to light the many unspoken and avoided truths about Britishness. She proposes that our failure as a nation to grapple with what Britain really stands for is creating a void, filled with toxicity and hatred. This has created an urgent crisis for British identity. In Hirsch’s mind, the only way forward is to talk about our nation, our history, and what we are becoming. Tackling difficult and uncomfortable subjects will fill this void with positivity and dialogue. BRIT(ish) brings to light the complexities of having a British identity, culture and heritage. The book is in part an autobiography, reportage and memoir, which provides Afua Hirsch with a way of coming to terms with her identity, and pinpointing where her sense of belongingness lies in society. The author successfully exposes many crucial issues attached to Britishness which must be addressed, during a time of increasing political uncertainty and change. ■
Can We Solve the Migration Crisis?
By Johnathan Lancaster Third Year Geographer at Gonville & Caius civilizational movements such as those of the Mongols, before she considers smaller colonial flows of settlers - with only 100,000 British colonists living in India by the end of the 1800s. The third phase Bhabha identifies are post-colonial exchanges between former powers and colonies which reversed the flow – movements epitomised in mentions of “Windrush” or Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech. Throughout all of these eras, Bhabha argues that a fourth mode of migration has been present: individuals and their families moving to seek a better life.
Can we solve the migration crisis?
By Jacqueline Babha, Cambridge: Polity, £9.99
Whether it’s Iranians attempting to cross the English Channel, Saudi women fleeing their families, or desperate migrants drowning in the Mediterranean, it is difficult not to have at least a liminal awareness that a significant proportion of the global population is on the move. Much will continue to be written regarding the ‘migration crisis’ as politicians and academics alike wring their hands, unsure how to respond to the plethora of issues associated with the mass transgression of national borders. In this short book – essentially a long essay – Jacqueline Bhabha argues for a compassionate approach to migrants that would transform existing stances towards migration by seeking not only to mitigate disasters, but to encourage a developmental approach which eliminates the economic and social stresses which she claims forces the majority of migrants to emigrate. The first of four chapters places the current ‘migration crisis’ in the long history of migration. The scale of current migrant flows into Europe is compared to large
In a welcome addition to mainstream debate, Bhabha contributes an overview of religious attitudes to “the alien”, suggesting that although a duty of care exists, human fallibility means that too often this has not been adhered to. There are complications, and Bhabha does well to provoke the reader to consider their own moral standpoint, asking through the Parable of the Good Samaritan whether it is sufficient to provide aid to the displaced rather than bring them into one’s home. Although space is limited, it would have been interesting to discuss nuances between accepting refugees (rights-based systems) and accepting guests (cultural duty). In the third chapter Bhabha identifies the main push factors that prompt people to migrate – conflict, environment, poverty, demographics. Faced with issues of such magnitude she can hardly be expected to provide an approach to manage them, but briefly outlining them further cements this short book’s utility as a sound introduction to global migration and the institutions which structure and intersect these flows. The final chapter turns to grapple with the migration crisis and
presents a handful of policies seeking to make migration safer or less necessary. Firstly these concern humanitarian reactions, such as ensuring safe passage for existing migrants and providing work permits and opportunities for employment in low-cost enterprise zones – as trialled in Jordan. But the crux of Bhabha’s argument is that migration must be managed by reducing incentives to migrate. This wide-ranging, utopic vision would be achieved chiefly by reducing poverty (the principle cause of distress migration), and enabling individuals to live lives where they can achieve, progress and have all their human rights met. She offers some attractive proposals: instead of spending US$66bn on a border wall, the US could fund counter-gang policing in Honduras at a trifling $100m per year. Even more refreshing she suggests that the oversupply of educational places in the Global North could be made available to poorer students from the Global South, lauding the Erasmus programme as a successful forerunner. Given the emphasis on the importance of a personal sense of progression in migrants’ motivations and the vast numbers of migrants stuck in a continual state of waiting, Bhabha disappointingly makes no mention of how jobs can be created in migrant source countries to relieve poverty; improving education is all very well but without meaningful work, the argument falters. Overall, this book is a great introduction to the political and moral complexity of migration in which Bhabha presents an aspirational vision of the future. This is a clear and empirically rich overview but as with any issue of this magnitude, it is difficult to avoid utopia and provide concrete answers grounded in place. ■
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â€œIt is a grand world we live in, full of beauty, interest and pleasing prospects. Who would not be a geographer with this whole, wide, vivid panorama as his field, places and peoples and occupations, and all the sights and sounds and smells that combine into an atmosphere peculiar to each part?
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The aim of the Geographer is to see clearly and to see whole; to climb the peak for the whole view, not to dally in the pleasant valleys below.â€? Frank Debenham, 1949
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