Welcome fellow postgrads to RGS-PGF’s latest interactive event – Local Geography Week. A big thank you to everyone who shared pictures of their local geographies. Why however, did we choose to focus on local geographies? Surely in 2020, people are tired of their local spaces due to multiple lockdowns and restrictions on travel? Aimee, the Chair of the postgraduate forum explains the thinking behind local geography week:
“As a committee we recognised that this year has been difficult for geographers as many of our opportunities to travel and get outside for fieldwork have been curtailed. But we also realised from our own experiences that there’s so much to appreciate on or near our own doorstep and that our postgraduate community should have a chance to showcase their favourite local spots. We hoped that Local Geography Week would encourage people to look back over the months they’ve had getting to know their local area and reflect on the places which have become important to them – hopefully, it’s also shown there’s still so much more to see!”
Taking for granted the influence of the local, is surprisingly, not a recent habit of geographers. Briault (1953) notes how local geographies were often ignored in school-level education and advocated local studies to activate and engage young geographers in the world around them. Describing a local geography as:
“the study of a small area in which individual features and details of the human and physical aspects of geography can be investigated”
Briault (1953: 30)
By making the focus local we can refocus on information that is part our everyday lived experience. From there, we can consider how these localities fit within broader regional, national or global scales. How many of us have used our nearby cities or counties when collecting data for undergraduate projects? Or the classic example of early geographical learning of taking a walk through a wood, observing the shape of a valley or counting how may cars and pedestrians go past. Sometimes, we need to focus on the local to understand bigger phenomena.
During COVID-19 we in the UK talk about the impacts on a regional scale such as the new tier system for lockdowns. We talk about the R number on a national scale as the health of the overall nation-state. We discuss the creation of vaccines on a global scale as a network of knowledge production. Nevertheless, COVID-19 impacts us all and our local geographical positioning can influence how we see the world around us. So, for local geography week we wanted to see how fellow geographers embraced and understood their localities. Aimee, our Chair, summarises perfectly the content that was produced during local geography week:
“We had contributions from across the UK and it was great to see what activities people have been enjoying. I was heartened by people’s appreciation for the small things – staying at home hasn’t always been the easiest, but our contributors showed us there is still beauty and novelty to be found, even when a place is so familiar. Each day brings something new and with the seasons changing we’ve had chance to watch the world outside our windows flourish in spring, come alive in the summer sun and provide a gorgeous autumnal showcase – I think our contributors’ posts reflected these changes really well. It was also interesting to see everyone’s interpretations of the ‘local’ too, and I’m sure there’s many discussions to be had around what we define as ‘local’ and how we construct notions of our ‘local’ landscapes or use them to connect to other parts of the world… but perhaps that’s a chat for another time!”
And on that note, thank you again if you contributed and please continue to send us pictures of your everyday views to our Twitter or Instagram if you would like to. As a community, now more than ever, we want you to know that you can always find a bunch of likeminded geographers through the Postgraduate Forum. Please enjoy a selection of the fantastic content that was sent to us during Local Geography Week.
Joining @PGF_RGSIBG local geography week from London: fab parks making up for no garden, local communities providing excellent signage & my dining table/office with a background which reminds me to be kind to myself on bad days – PhD work during a pandemic ain’t easy! #pgfhome pic.twitter.com/J0RZ0Qr2JP— Emily Hopkins (@emilyhopkins__) October 20, 2020
Thanks for reading!
PGF Blog Editor
Briault, E. (1953). THE STUDY OF LOCAL GEOGRAPHY AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE SCHOOL COURSE. Geography, 38(1), 29-32.