Research Seminars for 2018-19

Both external and internal speakers are invited to the School of Geography, Geology and the Environment to present the latest results of their research. Everyone is invited, so please come along!

Semester 1

DateSpeakerTitle

3rd October 2018

1pm-2pm

F75a Bennett

(GG)

Dr Alexander Baker

University of Durham

Resistance and Removal: The Development and Distribution of Eviction Enforcement

The global expansion of displacement has been accompanied and sustained by a growth in secondary agencies and industries of eviction that facilitate and produce forms of violent eviction. From ‘hired goons’ to specialist police units and digital technologies, eviction technologies are proliferating and producing new markets. Research into eviction enforcement in England reveals a relationship between the development of political technologies of control and forms of organised and informal resistance operating at multiple scales. The work of bailiffs, police, and housing officers illuminates the development of eviction enforcement at a local level, and produces a starting point for informing how and why eviction enforcement tactics and strategies are reproduced across national boundaries and state spaces, and transform into global infrastructures of eviction and resistance.

4th October 2018

1pm-2pm

G72 (TA2) Bennett

(GL)

Dr Dave Waters

University of Oxford

The story of Mt  Everest: metamorphism, deformation and the 1933 summit attempt

The high-grade, partially melted metamorphic core of the Himalaya formed at depth after the collision of India with Asia, was extruded southwards at about 25 and 15 Myr ago, and now forms a slab of crystalline rocks (the Greater Himalayan Sequence) along the full length of the Himalaya. It happens that its upper boundary, a system of extensional faults and ductile shear zones (the South Tibetan Detachment System), passes through Mt Everest, where the summit is of Ordovician limestone, while the base camps are in granite and migmatitic gneiss. On the 1933 British Everest Expedition, L.R. Wager, later Professor of Geology at Oxford University, collected more than 60 samples across the transition in the Rongbuk Valley and on Everest itself. After retracing his steps (in the virtual realm) to relocate the samples, I have combined structural and metamorphic studies on them, along with existing data, to produce the most complete account to date of the mechanism and timing of the ductile shear zone responsible for exhuming the Himalayan metamorphic core.

10th October 2018

1pm-2pm

F75a Bennett

(GG)

CANCELLED

Professor David Evans

University of Sheffield

CANCELLED

The politics of food qualities: Fresh perspectives on sustainable food systems

This presentation explores the industrial production of ‘freshness’ (cf. Freidberg 2009) as a quality of food in the UK and Portugal. Freshness is a paradoxical concept when applied to food insofar as the availability of produce that is thought to be ‘fresh’ (and by extension safe, healthy, wholesome and so on) relies on processes that are often anything but ‘natural’ (relying as they do on technological innovation and organisational interference). Drawing on a range of empirical materials – including key informant interviews with retailers and technical experts, archival sources, and observations with supply chain actors and households – I address the multiple and mutable meanings and uses to which the term ‘freshness’ is put. Rather than seeing these differences as contrasting perspectives on essentially the same thing, or as social constructions, I approach ‘freshness’ as a matter of enactment. The analysis considers the ontological politics of food qualities by exploring how different enactments of ‘freshness’ – temporal, technological, statistical, sensory – clash with but also collaborate and rely on one another. Focusing on the development and application of Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP), and on competing sources of fresh food provisioning (supermarkets, greengrocers and so on), attention is paid to the enrolment of consumers in particular enactments of freshness; the distribution of responsibilities for health and sustainability outcomes, and the (moral and political) economic realities that are modulated through these performances of qualities. Crucially I suggest that the articulation of value permits the alignment of different ontologies and thus interpret the paradox of industrial freshness as a matter of convention and public secrecy. To conclude I return to the environmental consequences of this stabilization and argue that the slipperiness of qualities combined with the stickiness of conventions poses a particular challenge (and calls forth new responses) to the sustainability of food systems.
David Evans is a Professorial Research Fellow in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield. His work is located in the geographies and sociology of consumption and material culture, with particular interests in food and sustainability.

11th October 2018

1pm-2pm

G72 (TA2) Bennett

(GL)

Dr Ross Anderson

University of Oxford

The rise of eukaryotes: Environmental controls on the early fossil record

The Neoproterozoic–earliest Palaeozoic emergence and diversification of complex eukaryotic life is one of the most fundamental transitions in the history of life on Earth. Fossils provide the only direct way to test hypotheses for the sequence of evolutionary events, yet the early fossil record is compromised. Before organisms with biomineralised parts like shells or skeletons were common, we are reliant on environmental circumstances in which decay-prone organisms can be preserved. The rarity of these circumstances means fossils are similarly rare; and our limited understanding of the preservation processes mean we unable to know whether the ecological and temporal ranges of fossil organisms are real or artefacts of changing preservation potential. Here I investigate the role clay minerals, both in the surrounding sediment and when attached to organic remains, in Burgess Shale-type (BST) fossilisation, one of the most common pathways for the preservation of decay-prone organisms. An improved understanding of BST fossilization will enable vital new fossils to be found and enhance our palaeobiological understanding of these important assemblages.

17th October 2018

1pm-2pm

F75a Bennett

(GG)

Dr Paul Robinson

Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)

Earth Observation: Is the UK public sector analysis ready?

The EU’s Copernicus Programme is now generating unprecedented quantities of data from a suite of satellites that is released under an open data policy. This session will provide a background of work being done to enable access to pre-processed, analysis ready, forms of that data as well as details of the ongoing research programme aiming to utilise that data to meet policy requirements across the UK environment sector.

18th October 2018

1pm-2pm

G72 (TA2) Bennett

(GL)

Professor John Gulliver

University of Leicester

Assessing human exposure to air pollution - do we have the correct tools for the job?

In May 2018 the EU Commission referred France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania and the United Kingdom to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to respect agreed air quality limit values. This decision is based on data from a network of air pollution monitoring stations that are geographically distributed across Europe. Most people however spend most of their time indoors at home, and the remainder of their time travelling, at school/work, or elsewhere, where air quality is not necessarily the same as measured at the monitoring stations. Do we therefore need more appropriate methods to inform EU law on air quality and to better understand human exposure and health effects of air pollution?

24th October 2018

1pm-2pm

F75a Bennett

(GG)

Dr Jenny Goldstein

Assistant Professor, Department of Development Sociology, Cornell University

A critical physical geography of peat fire within socio-biophysical landscapes in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia

Widespread drainage of Indonesia’s peatlands used for plantation agriculture has resulted in near-annual landscape-scale fires, causing severe air pollution, economic losses, and health impacts for millions of Southeast Asia residents. Yet not all fire in peatlands transition from a surface fire to a sub-surface peat fire, the latter of which is the source of the most dangerous air pollution. While draining peatlands creates the biophysical conditions that enable peat fires, specific fire occurrence depends on the interaction of biophysical and socio-political factors that create and respond to those conditions. Based on cross-disciplinary field research with collaborators in a degraded peatland ecosystem in Central Kalimantan province, I take a Critical Physical Geography approach to argue that sub-surface peat fire behavior is dependent on a range of site-specific socio-political and biophysical dynamics that extend beyond peatland drainage and human-led fire ignition for agricultural land clearing. In particular, I analyze water table levels and available flammable surface vegetation as co-produced socio-biophysical dynamics in the landscape that are crucial for determining whether and where a surface fire transitions into a sub-surface peat fire. I then put these findings in context of the current politics of fire more broadly in Indonesia, and discuss implications for Kalimantan’s residents and future severe fire seasons.

25th October 2018

1pm-2pm

G72 (TA2) Bennett

(GL)

Dr Crispin Little

University of Leeds

A 3.77 (or possibly 4.28) billion year history of microbial communities associated with marine hydrothermal vents

Modern hydrothermal vents provide diverse environments for microorganisms. Here there is a large phylogenetic and physiological diversity of bacteria and archaea, occurring in a wide range habitats. An assumption is that similar communities of microorganisms have been present on Earth for an extremely long time, given that there is direct evidence of marine hydrothermal activity going back to the Archaean eon (which began 4 billion years ago), and the hypothesis that life may have originated in these environments. In this presentation I will review the fossil record of microorganisms at hydrothermal vents, which comes from two different rock types: volcanogenic massive sulfides (VMS), which formed at high temperature vents, and jaspers (iron-silica rocks), which formed at low-temperature, sulfide-poor vents. Occurrences of microorganisms in VMS go back to the Paleo-archaean era (3.235 billion years ago) and in jaspers to the Eo-archaean (3.770, or possibly 4.280, billion years ago), with the latter being the oldest organisms yet discovered on Earth. These very dates suggest that life may have been possible on Mars during its equivalent aged warmer period, and that life may be found at putative hydrothermal sites on the icy moons with liquid oceans (e.g. Europa and Enceladus).

31st October 2018

1pm-2pm

F75a Bennett

(GG)

Dr Rory Padfield

Oxford Brookes University

 

Co-producing a research agenda for sustainable palm oil

Co-design of research processes and co-production of knowledge are key elements of transdisciplinarity, a way of conducting research that integrates different disciplinary perspectives whilst incorporating stakeholder views into the research design. Focusing on the topic of palm oil – a much-maligned yet generally misunderstood vegetable oil – this paper presents the findings of a global multi-stakeholder engagement exercise in order to identify priority research questions for the study of palm oil sustainability.  In addition to an analysis of the highest priority research themes that emerged, the papers explores the similarities and differences towards the questions between different stakeholder groups. The paper concludes with a number of recommendations to help re-align current research efforts towards those deemed to be the most urgent.

31st October 2018

2pm-3pm

G72 (TA2) Bennett

(GL)

Professor Mauro Rosi

Professor of Volcanology

University of Pisa

1st November 2018

1pm-2pm

G72 (TA2) Bennett

(GL)

Professor Alan Haywood

University of Leeds

Can models simulate warm climates of the past?

7th November 2018

1pm-2pm

F75a Bennett

(GG)

Professor Rob Wilby

University of Loughborough

Responding to the threat of deadly heat within homes and workplaces in Ghana

8th November 2018

1pm-2pm

G72 (TA2) Bennett

(GL)

Dr Olly Shorttle

University of Cambridge

Abiotic chemical cycling on Earth and beyond

14th November 2018

1pm-2pm

F75a Bennett

(GG)

Professor Louise Bracken

University of Durham

15th November 2018

1pm-2pm

G72 (TA2) Bennett

(GL)

Professor Jens Zinke

University of Leicester

Taking the pulse of the tropical oceans through the coral’s lens’

21st November 2018

1pm-2pm

F75a Bennett

(GG)

Dr Karen Anderson

University of Exeter

22nd November 2018

1pm-2pm

G72 (TA2) Bennett

(GL)

TBC TBC

28th November 2018

1pm-2pm

F75a Bennett

(GG)

Dr Nick McGlynn

School of Environment and Technology, University of Brighton

Bearspace: geographies of fat stigma in a gay/bisexual men’s subculture

The UK is said to be grappling with an ‘obesity epidemic’ – an explosive and dangerous build-up of fat bodies framed as inherently unhealthy, irresponsible, unproductive, and sexually repulsive. Unsurprisingly fatness is highly stigmatised, with resultant serious mental/physical health impacts. Men are increasingly affected by fat stigma and it is known to be intensified in gay/bisexual men’s spaces. Yet the impacts of fat stigma on men’s health or sexuality have received little academic attention – particularly within geography. My research aims to uncover the role of geography in the marginalisation and/or empowerment of fat gay/bisexual men in the UK.

I bring together space, fatness and sexuality through work in the ‘Bear’ community - a large global subculture of large-bodied gay/bisexual men. ‘Bear spaces’ such as bars, clubs, and events are often experienced as ‘safe spaces’ for men excluded from both ‘mainstream’ (due to sexuality) and gay/bisexual men’s spaces (due to fatness). In this seminar I will discuss the Bearspace Project which tackles these issues. First, I explain the project’s intellectual origins in historical writing on the Bear subculture, and in research on fat geographies. Second, I outline the project’s progress to date and programme for future work.

29th November 2018

1pm-2pm

G72 (TA2) Bennett

(GL)

Dr Oliver Lord

University of Bristol

The Volatile Planet ; Carbon, Water and the Deep Earth

5th December 2018

LT1 Bennett

Early Evening

Professor Patricia Daley

Professor of the Human Geography of Africa

School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

ANNUAL GEOGRAPHY LECTURE

6th December 2018

1pm-2pm

G72 (TA2) Bennett

(GL)

Emeritus Professor Ian Fairchild

University of Birmingham and Trustee, Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust

The birth, demise and reincarnation of Snowball Earth

Snowball Earth constitutes a theoretical framework for extreme glaciation at times in Earth history when glaciers extended to sea level in the tropics. A rich array of hypotheses have been generated and tested. Tested propositions include the storyline that ice ages were discrete, long-lasting episodes during which atmospheric carbon dioxide builds up to a level that ultimately leads to their demise. Physical evidence exists, within geological successions located in the tropics, of extreme cold arid environments like those of modern Antarctica (and sometimes used as Mars analogues).  Variations in ice cover related to Milankovitch forcing was also a feature of the later stages of a Snowball event and may also be influential in the build-up phase in those rare cases where sedimentary deposition continues during major sealevel fall at the onset of glaciation.  Snowball Earth continues to provide an extreme testing ground for our theories of Earth system behaviour and organic evolution.

12th December 2018

1pm-2pm

F75a Bennett

(GG)

Dr Doreen Boyd

Earth observation and plant conservation

University of Nottingham

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T: +44 (0)116 252 3933
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