Hi everyone, 

The Cultural Geography Study Group is delighted to announce a wide range of sessions and activities we are sponsoring for this year’s combined IAG-NZGS Conference, in Sydney, 6-9 July. Full details are below.  

Abstracts are due 5th April. Please send these direct to the session organisers (contact emails listed below). Please indicate in your abstract submission if, at this stage, you plan to attend in-person or online.  Further details about the conference are available here: https://www.sydney.edu.au/science/news-and-events/events/iagnzgs2021-conference.html 

Additional activities, including a 30 year celebration of the Cultural Geography Study Group, and pre-conference workshop, will be announced in the coming month. Stay tuned!  


Best wishes, 

Kaya, Michelle and Michele 

Cultural Geography Study Group Convenors 



Here is the list of exciting sessions:  

New and Emerging Research in Cultural Geography 

Session organisers: Cultural Geography Study Group, convened by Michelle Duffy, Michele Lobo and Kaya Barry. (k.barry@griffith.edu.au)  

In this session we provide a forum for researchers at all levels - postgraduates, early career researchers and research leaders - to showcase cutting-edge research in Cultural Geography. Cultural geography comprises a wide-ranging group of geographical sub-disciplines that engages with the arts, humanities, natural and social sciences. Cultural domains of geographical research continue to grow in breadth and depth, with expanding theoretical formulations, methodological approaches and fields of interest. Cultural geographers embrace the historical, material, digital, discursive and affective to advance understandings of place, space and the environment. We welcome your papers that expand the horizon of Cultural Geography and that respond to this year’s conference theme: ‘Remembering, reimagining geography’. Standard papers or alternative presentation formats welcome.  



Remembering, Reimagining Political Space 

Session organisers: Ari Jerrems and Adam David Morton (ari.jerrems@monash.edu)  


Political space, understood as the frameworks, infrastructures and geographies through which politics is exercised, has long been the site of intense contestation. In recent times, dominant constellations have been challenged by an array of social movements with diverse objectives, from contesting extractivism to forging spaces of autonomy and defending Indigenous sovereignties. At the same time, there have been numerous violent reassertions of state power often upholding colonial hierarchies and the interests of capital. To make sense of the current political landscape this session builds on the conference theme, bringing together papers seeking to remember and reimagine political space. On the one hand, papers will analyse the constitution of dominant notions of territory and sovereignty, from the violent bordering practices through which they are defended to the colonial imaginaries and violent histories underpinning them. On the other hand, papers will attempt to think political space otherwise, building on the imaginaries and practices of diverse thinkers, movements and anti-colonial struggles.    



Actually existing digital geographies in the antipodes (and elsewhere)  

Session organisers: Jess McLean and Soph Maalsen (jessica.mclean@mq.edu.au)  


Digital technologies are changing the co-production of people, place and space in multiple and uneven ways. The digital is not an overlay but a specific form of entanglement of technologies with humans and non-humans, in contexts ranging from the mundane to the spectacular. From challenging how we understand spatialities and materialities, to generating new methodologies and epistemologies, ‘the digital’ is affording rich opportunities for geographic research. The digital variously produces, augments and mediates our day-to-day, and we are interested in these daily encounters and the possibilities and challenges that they hold. The emerging subdiscipline or subfield of digital geographies is capturing our understanding of these changes (Kinsley et al 2020) and this call for papers invites contributions that speak to this moment. For this session, we invite scholarship that engages with critical, feminist, decolonial, more-than-human and generative readings of actually existing digital geographies (Shelton and Lodato, 2019). These may include analyses of smart cities, smart forests, the Internet of Things, digital sustainability, social media, digital methods, digital infrastructures, rural and urban digital geographies, prop tech, platform labour, Indigenous digital innovations, digital geographies of the Global South, and more.    



Alternative Urban Imaginaries 1: Counter mapping and creative cartography 

Session oragnisers: Rachel Iampolski, Alex Faustino, Prof Wendy Steele, Libby Porter (rachel.iampolski@rmit.edu.au)  


In this session we seek papers that critically consider the potential of counter-mapping and creative cartography for re-imagining the contemporary city, and the possibilities for more empowering and emancipatory encounters with participants in research. Cartographic systems of categorising static and material heritage have historically served as tools of colonisation, ownership and exclusion, and more recently the surveillance and policing of public space. Important counter-narratives and imaginaries often go undocumented through more traditional research methods which can ignore or undervalue alternative modes of knowledge including emotions, memory and affect. Critical and creative forms of counter mapping aim to subvert the expert nature and authority of the researcher by appropriating the methods and aesthetics of mapmaking to engage communities differently. Activists and community organisers such as the ‘Counter Cartography Collective’ for example use these visual methods to ‘destabilize centred and exclusionary representations of the social and economic’ and ‘construct new imaginaries of collective struggle and alternative worlds’ (see https://www.countercartographies.org/). We invite papers that explore the diverse, creative ways geographers are seeking to subvert dominant urban narratives through research that is deliberately attentive to alternative urban imaginaries, histories, stories, practices, relationships, memories and rituals. 



Alternative Urban Imaginaries 2: Storying Radically Interdependent Counter-Cities 

Session organisers: Ashraful Alam, Donna Houston, Michele Lobo (ash.alam@otago.ac.nz)  


Cities play a crucial role in imagining hopeful post-pandemic and planetary futures if openness, radical interdependencies and justice that include and go beyond the human are considered. Imagining these futures are necessary, particularly when western colonial and capitalist (il)logics and promises have failed to deliver diverse, equitable and just cities. How can we come together to design and imagine cities otherwise? Urban geographers are at the forefront of accepting the urgent challenges of the present and seeking alternative imaginaries so that cities are places of radiant and plural becomings. This session is an invitation to conceptualise and think with the Counter-City. We call for storying that values collaboration, interdependencies and experimentation through ideas, performances and case studies that explore city living and collective urban futures. The agenda is to rewrite cities of the Global North/Global South beyond conventional, expert and elitist frames. These ethical-political inquiries might use a representational/more-than representational or human/more-than-human lens to focus on the urban/digital commons, urban infrastructures and undergrounds, social difference (gender, disability, ethnicity, race, sexuality, religion etc), animal/multispecies care/justice, food security/alternative food practices, viral/microbe mobilities, and so forth. 



Border Studies in Australian and New Zealand Geography 

Session organisers: Andrew Burridge, Umut Ozguc, Ari Jerrums. (andrew.burridge@mq.edu.au)  


In 1961, 60 years prior to this year’s IAG conference, the late Victor Prescott arrived in Australia, and took up a position at the University of Melbourne in Geography, perhaps the most influential figure in international border studies in Australia, publishing works including The Geography of Frontiers and Boundaries in 1965. Much has changed since this time, notably through the development of critical border studies, significantly expanding the scope and diversity of the ways in which we conceptualise borders. Despite growing prominence of border studies within geography, it remains a marginalised area of research in Australia and New Zealand. While across the globe there are numerous border studies groups, conferences, and associations, in Australia and NZ there are still fewer connections that bring border scholars together. In response to the theme of this year’s conference, ‘remembering, reimagining geography’, we are seeking submissions for a paper session that critically examines both the past and future of border studies in Australian and NZ geography. This includes border studies scholars working from Australia/NZ, and/or on Australian/NZ borders. Topics might include: - The history and/or future of border studies in Australia/NZ - Researching and/or teaching border studies in/from Australian/NZ institutions - Colonial and frontier borders - Indigenous borders/border studies - Onshore and offshore detention - Pandemic and quarantine borders. 



Roundtable on geography under ‘change plan’: experiencing, adapting to, and resisting university restructuring 

Session organisers: Natalie Osborne, Donna Houston and Ilan Wiesel (ilan.wiesel@unimelb.edu.au)  


Universities across Australia are undergoing significant restructuring – including large scale forced redundancies – in response to the reduction in high-fee paying international students due to Covid19 border closures, and the exclusion of universities from government assistance programs such as JobKeeper. Concurrently, the Commonwealth Government’s higher education fees reform is driving further restructuring that will have significant implications for geography students and enrolments. The aim of this session is to facilitate an open, interactive, roundtable conversation about the impact of these ongoing events on Australian geography and geographers, including both academics and students. Participants are invited to share their experiences and insights on: how university ‘change plan’ and restructuring have impacted geographers; critical geographical perspectives on the drivers of such restructuring, including factors that long precede Covid19; and, examples of ways in which geography staff and students are resisting or adapting to restructuring, redundancies, and early retirements. Our goal is to support co-learning and relations of solidarity to help us imagine and prefigure better, more just ways of thinking and learning together within and beyond the university. 



Regenerative, Resilient and Really Diverse, New Economic Geographies 

Session organisers: Stephen Healy, Katharine McKinnon, Kelly Dombroski (stephen.healy@westernsydney.edu.au)  


Just as ecological diversity produces resilience, so too does economic diversity. This has become obvious in times of COVID-19. In a short time span we’ve learned about the vulnerabilities that come with over-reliance on single sectors—e.g. tourism, education. At the same time, we come to appreciate the remarkable capacity for mutual aid in some communities, and creative adaptation in others. Diversity enables resilience but in return it requires our care and attention. We need to think with and accommodate for difference, the multiplicity of ways that economies, ecologies, infrastructures and built environments work to sustain us (humans) and others (more than human) who are here, as well as those yet to come. Scholarship in the subfield of diverse economies explores the possibilities for regeneration and resilience that lie in diverse economic practices. For instance, The Handbook of Diverse Economies (Gibson-Graham and Dombroski 2020), Reimagining Livelihoods (Miller 2019), and Birthing Work (McKinnon 2020) share an insistence that effective responses to the most pressing challenges, including climate change, care delivery in the context of a pandemic, and the work of building more just and liveable cities, must take place by articulating and acting on common concerns in the context of cultural, and cosmological difference. 



'Geographers Declare Action' Workshop 

Session organisers: The Geographers Declare Working Group, contact: Susannah Clement (susannah.clement@gmail.com) 


This workshop will be an interactive session to ‘action’ the ‘Climate and Biodiversity Emergency Declaration by Geographers in Australia’ launched at the plenary session (see separate application), as a response to the recommendations of the Strategic plan for geography, ‘Geography: Shaping Australia's Future’ (NCGS, 2018), and contribute to the conference theme of ‘Remembering, reimagining geography’ through a focus on the ‘big issues’ i.e. climate change, social justice and biodiversity loss. The declaration will be a public statement that acknowledges and foregrounds the interlinked crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and social inequalities. The workshop will be an opportunity to devise a plan of activities and actions to give life to the declaration. What can you/we/the discipline/policy makers do and how can we lead, enable, support, lobby and assist in making desirable change happen? Join us and find out during what is designed to be a collaborative discussion, learning from the experience of those involved in other declarations (such as Planners Declare), and with the end goal a programme of bold actions. All geographers, geography educators, allied professionals, practitioners and members of cognate disciplines are welcome to join us for a rewarding reimagining-focused session. 



Rethinking Counter-Urbanisation – Explorations into Australian internal migration away from the cities 

Session organisers: Caitlin Buckle and Nick Osbaldiston (caitlin.buckle@sydney.edu.au)  


There has been an upsurge in media interest in recent times on the idea that people are fleeing the cities for life in regional Australia. Across the world movement out of the cities has been discussed under the guise of counter-urbanisation, amenity migration, lifestyle migration and even voluntary simplicity. Such interest echoes earlier times in the early 2000s when the supposed ‘seachange’ phenomenon held national interest (Burnley and Murphy, 2004). However, despite the media attention there is skepticism over this supposed new wave of migration. As Bernard et al. (2020) have suggested in a recent report, internal migration will be influenced by local and national economic conditions. Furthermore, regional Australia is not a homogenous space with several pockets attracting significant population increase (such as the Gold Coast) while others find population turnaround a more difficult task. In this proposed session we seek to define and explore counter-urban migration further by investigating the past trends and what occurred, through to current movements of people before and during the pandemic lockdowns. We propose inviting contributions such as those that seek to: define and investigate ‘counter-urbanisation’ trends, explore motivations and lived experiences of counter-urbanisation, ask questions about whether the ideal of remote working will sustain this trend, and investigate the impacts of counter-urbanisation on climate and communities