This summer is proving a busy one for members of the research group as they are attending conferences around the world to disseminate research findings. Below are details of who is doing what and where (chronological order).


51st Academy of Marketing conference: Marketing the Brave– University of Stirling, 2-5 July 2018.


Placing the Hardy angling brand: investigating the symbolic British landscapes that have made a global icon


Tom Mordueand Oliver Moss


Founded in 1872, Hardy ( is the world’s oldest manufacturer of high quality angling products. Still operating out of a small manufacturing plant in Alnwick, Northumberland (itself home to some of the best game fishing rivers in Britain), the Hardy brand remains not only from, but distinctly of, the angling world. Though several general histories of Hardy exist, none has explored the specific ethos and provenance of the Hardy brand. Nor has any critical academic research been carried out into the ways in which the Hardy brand and its associated values are preserved and cultivated. It is this deficiency that we seek to remedy in this paper. Drawing on previously unseen materials from the Hardy archive and interviews with current and former Hardy staff, including two Hardy-sponsored game-angling guides, the paper will proceed through three sections. First, we interrogate the means by which place and landscape narratives underpin a brand whose iconicity has grown at the vanguard of modern angling. Second, by exploring how locales such as the rivers Tyne and Tweed are represented and evoked by Hardy in international marketing campaigns, we shed light on the ways in which a particular (northern) British rurality can speak impactfully way beyond its regional and national borders. Third, and finally, we explore how the Hardy brand is, and is intended to be, embodied, situated, articulated and performed by anglers in an interplay between, inter alia, branded equipment, sporting, didactic and local expertise, and the consumption of landscape, place and nature.


European Conference on Sustailability, Energy & the Environment (ECSEE) – Brighton, 6-7th July 2018


Business Models for Vehicle to Grid (V2G) 


Richard Kotter


The variable nature of renewable energy has consequences for electricity supply control and management. The control of the electricity grid is premised on the ready availability of high energy density fossil fuels. The use of such fuels for electricity production, including for electrified transport, is leading to adverse environmental impacts. Lately, there has been significant progress to using renewable energy sources for electricity generation. However, these energy sources are low density and variable. This has implications for grid control and management. Given the projected further rise in the use of Electric Vehicles (EVs), there is a considerable interest in the impact of this on grid control and in the idea of using the energy storage capacity of EVs as a means for helping with grid management.

EV battery can provide an important service to the grid by using it as storage to both import and export power from/to the grid. This is known as Vehicle to Grid (V2G). Other methods of regulating the intermittent nature of renewables is to use (in addition) stationary batteries. V2G means that the battery of an EV can be used for peak lopping and frequency stabilisation. The technologies for such power sharing are developing and few commercial demonstrators are under test. However, for this approach to be successful there needs to be a business model (or models) that ensure that EV owners are rewarded for allowing their vehicles to be used. This is because EVs cannot then simultaneously be used for transport use (thus reduced convenience) and EV batteries may experience additional battery degradation . In addition, there needs to be a system for ensuring that EVs that are used for grid management are sufficiently re-charged in order to meet the EV user needs.


This is part of the ongoing SEEV4City EU Interreg project (where I am Deputy PI for Northumbria) across Engineering, Computing and (Human/Environmental) Geography)


Association of Borderland Studies World Conference– Vienna & Budapest 10-14 July 2018


Brexit, autochthonic politics of belonging and everyday life


Kathryn Cassidy, Perla Innocenti and Hans-Joachim Bürkner


Panel: Citizenship, statelessness and minorities


Brexit is not only re-shaping the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union through shifting geopolitical positioning(s) and the (re)introduction of barriers and boundaries; it is also challenging British and EU citizens to revise their everyday sense of belonging. Assuming that border-making, citizenship and belonging do not only take place at the level of high politics but also through everyday cultural, economic, political and social activities, the scope of such revision cannot be overestimated. Brexit incorporates emergent and contested political projects of belonging; determining anew who belongs and who does not, and is raising questions about who will be constructed as belonging in a post-EU Britain. At the same time, for British citizens the EU is shifting from an “inside” to an “outside” position. This implies altered perspectives on “non”-entities and groups: non-Britain, non-EU, non-European, etc. Negative definitions of the outside not only entail reinforced discrimination and exclusion of outsiders, as triggered by a wave of re-nationalisation and political objections to permissive “EU” attitudes towards immigration, they also render everyday concepts of belonging highly political.


This paper discusses the construction of political and everyday senses of belonging implied by public debates on Brexit, and critically examines the shifts in attitude towards received citizenship and different degrees of social exclusion. Exclusion will not simply be discussed in traditional terms of ethnicity, xenophobia, racism or othering relating to migration or cross-cultural encounters, rather, it will be theoretically reflected at a more general level. It will be conceptualized as an outcome of situated gazes related to in-/exclusionary social practices and inherent ideas of autochthony. The felt imperative to decide who is a rightful autochthonous member of society, or who commands a natural link to British society, takes othering and the formation of we-groups to another level. It suggests a more universal mode of in-/exclusion which seeks to shape the foundations of society, rather than its margins. Autochtonous belonging might prove to be an even more powerful imaginary than former ideas of ethnicity, culture or race. Consequently, we argue that it is not only important to research the effects of rebordering for minorities and the intersectional nature of inequality they experience. In our view it is also important to scrutinize majorities for their sense of belonging and its variations. One possible outcome of such scrutiny might be a deeper recognition of the holistic – and therefore more powerful – form of exclusion that impacts upon minorities during periods of rebordering. In particular, it might relieve concepts of “exclusion by intersectionality” from theoretical constraints generated by merely summing up axes and indicators of inequality. This study seeks to explain exclusion from an emergent stream of ideation that is informed by constant and contingent reshaping of a general sense of belonging, which gives individual axes of inequality a particular orientation.


IGU-CAG – Quebec City, 5-8 August 2018


Regional responses to asylum seeker dispersal and privatization of asylum seeker accommodation in the UK


Kathryn Cassidy


Panel: Rethinking responsibility and identity in urban governance and development


In this paper, I explore the ways in which third sector organisations and local councils, primarily in the North East of England, have been working together to improve the accommodation and living conditions of asylum seekers dispersed into the area and housed by private firms contracted by the UK Home Office. Environmental Health departments within local councils are tasked with ensuring housing in their area meets minimum standards, but in the case of the UK’s ‘no choice’ asylum accommodation, their efforts are often undermined by national contracts known as the Commercial and Operational Managers Procuring Asylum Support Services(COMPASS), which have been in operation since 2012. Not only do these contracts present challenges on a local level to governance of urban housing, but the concentration of housing in post-industrial urban spaces, where low-cost accommodation attracts the highest profits for the contractors, also undermines efforts to reshape these spaces and fractures community participation by increasing diversity and transience in the local population. The paper is based upon two years of participant observation with a campaigning and advocacy group based in the North East of England, as well as analysis of public and policy discourses relating to asylum accommodation across the UK since 2012.


Emerging forms of community unionism and the spatial politics of labour organising


Paul Griffin


Panel: Work, Workers, and Workplaces in an Age of Authoritarian Austerity


This paper aims to consider the wider political dimensions of emerging forms of labour organising in the North East of England (NE). It will combine an analysis of experiences across case studies of community union organising, including: campaigns against zero hour contracts, organising against austerity/welfare sanctioning and wider education projects. The research presented is based upon a series of interviews with key organising figures relating to these cases. The paper engages with the diverse forms of work related organising that have expanded the remit of existing trade unionism through community union branches and engagements with ‘unemployed workers’. In this regard, established labour geography understandings of community unionism have largely been built upon notions of reciprocity and capacity building through an economic lens (e.g. Wills, 2001), but have yet to fully foreground the wider implications of organising groups beyond the workplace. The emerging forms of community union organising in the NE indicates explicitly political forms of agency across multiple grievances against increasingly punitive employer and state practices. Consequently, the organising emphasis found is centred upon ‘raising expectations’ as well as the continuing challenging of particular work place practices (McAlevey, 2012).This engagement with a wider political realm, alongside disputes directly engaging with working conditions, suggests a more complex and nuanced understanding of labour demand making. Thus, this paper advances an understanding of community unionism activism as contributing towards a wider ‘working class presence’ shaped through diverse and intersecting spatial practices and political demand making.


Nordic Migration Research Conference 2018

Norrköping, Sweden 15–17 August 2018


The emotional geographies of the Zimbabwean diaspora: change hope uncertainty


John Clayton


The ’emotional turn’ (Anderson and Smith, 2001) has brought renewed attention to the role of affective registers in constituting and transforming socio-spatial relations. For migrants, such emotions are particularly significant vis-a-vis ongoing processes of inclusion/exclusion and the everyday reconstruction of translocal subjectivities. However, consideration must also be given to the emotional dimensions of more seismic geo- political change (Pain, 2009) as actively navigated ‘from a distance’. In this paper we draw on research examining the resignation of the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe in November 2017, from the perspective of Zimbabweans living outside of Zimbabwe. In the immediate aftermath, the overwhelming impression conveyed by media was a powerful yet complex response: initial excitement tinged with frustration and exhaustion, disbelief, celebration and then hope measured with uncertainty. Such reactions, fed by decades of repression are actively re-working the contours of citizenship and belonging for Zimbabweans. However, what is perhaps less clear is how this is being experienced by a diverse, dispersed and ‘fractured’ diaspora (Pasura, 2011) in ways that might inform practices of translocal lives (Brickell and Datta, 2011). This paper discusses some of the initial findings of exploratory research into the reactions and consequences of these events for those now living through a range of (trans)national contexts.

RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018– Cardiff, UK 28-31 August 2018.

Re-writing creative and digital work: governmentality, methodologies and policy discourse


Panel: The geography of creative industries revisited


Jon Swords, Ewan MacKenzie and Paul Vallance


The aim of this paper is twofold. First, to critique prevailing discourses that have come to define the ‘creative industries’ in the context of economic growth policy in the UK and beyond. Second, to highlight how these discourses and associated rationalities can contribute towards social and economic inequality by prioritising economic objectives. We draw on findings from the AHRC funded Creative FUSE project in the North East of England which sought to “drive innovation and growth” in the creative and digital sectors. We highlight how policy-driven discourses and methodologies were at odds with the perceptions and experiences of some creative and digital workers. Drawing on interviews and a large scale questionnaire, we illustrate the role of policy discourse in privileging particular labour markets and sectors, which in turn fails to account for or value creative and digital work located outside of economic growth criteria. By adopting the concept of governmentality as a form of representation in a discursive field in which exercising power becomes a process of rationalisation in itself, we assess the costs involved in such recent policy interventions. From these insights, and by drawing inspiration from the anti-precarity movement, we explore the possibilities for adopting socially progressive approaches to understanding and encouraging creative and digital work.



Building Immersive Memoryscapes


Jon Swords


Panel: Geographical Considerations of Digital Landscapes


Memoryscapes is an interdisciplinary research project which brings together researchers from geography, computer sciences, architecture and the humanities to work with Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (a museums and archives service) and FaulknerBrowns Architects (an architectural firm). It explores how immersive digital technologies can be used to re-contextualise heritage assets from museums into public spaces by augment urban landscapes to produce heritage-led immersive experiences. The aim is that such experiences increase accessibility and participation with heritages beyond institutional setting in the places from which they gain meaning. But the diverse disciplinary and practical knowledges involved in generating immersive memoryscapes, the media through which they are experienced, and the places they are installed present epistemological and methodological challenges the research team has needed to overcome. Drawing on work which acknowledges the discursive nature of heritage as plural and contested (Smith, 2006; Ashworth, et al., 2007) and interpretation as a ‘writerly’ exercise (Barthes, 1987; Pickles, 2004), this paper reflects on the processes undertaken to understand and embrace the diverse vocabularies, constraints and working practices of organisations working in the heritage, ‘place-making’ and digital technology sectors to produce interactive digital landscapes. This paper explores these ‘productive tensions’ which accompany colliding epistemologies (Brown and Knopp, 2008) through the concept of an immersive platform stack and present an optimistic account of bringing together, and learning from this range of organisations.



Landscapes of Hate


John Clayton is co-convening this session with Ed Hall (University of Dundee, UK) and Catherine Donovan (University of Sunderland, UK)


The incidence of reported ‘hate crimes’ – related to ‘race’, religious belief, disability, sexuality and transgender identities – has increased significantly in recent years, with a notable spike after the 2016 Brexit referendum. Studies of hate crime have been dominated by criminological, psychological and sociological perspectives. Despite spaces and places featuring explicitly in hate crime incidence, and the above studies, as well as important contributions in relation to discrimination and exclusion, there has been a limited contribution from geographers with an explicit focus on ‘hate’ (Browne et al, 2011; Listerborn, 2015; Clayton et al, 2016; Hopkins, 2016). The session seeks to open up the hate debate beyond criminology; encapsulate a range of marginalised and stigmatised groups; consider the intersectional dimensions of incidence and experiences of hate (and those who perpetrate hate); map the geographies of hate, and its relationship with broader social exclusion and marginalisation; engage with and critique theoretical and conceptual aspects of ‘hate’ (for example, identity, encounters, relationality, emotions and affect); consider relevant methodologies for studying hate; and examine policy and practice around prevention, reporting and support.



Geographies of Institutionalised Childhood


Tom Disney is co-convening this session with Anna Schliehe (University of Cambridge, UK)


The everyday micro-scale worlds, materialities, subjectivities and mobilities of childhood and youth have long been of interest to geographers (Horton and Kraftl 2006), yet, extant research in this area has often focused on somewhat ‘mainstream’ childhoods from minority world contexts. What of those children deemed ‘problematic’ or in need of care and correction? Many children and young people are subject to institutional interventions that seek to ‘‘design’ and ‘produce’ particular and improved versions’ (Philo and Parr 2000: 513) of their everyday, which is markedly different from the ‘mainstream’. For example, in England last year over 50,000 children were subject to child protection plans, over 70,000 were in residential care (DfE 2016) and over 1000 were experiencing Young Offenders Institutes (MoJ 2017).Such significant interventions see children and young people’s worlds shaped and remade by statutory services. These attempts and techniques can be traced to the ‘traditional’ institutions that seek to alter problematic behaviour, such as prisons, asylums and orphanages, but also ‘institutions’ now operating in a more ‘dispersed spatial form’ that have yet to be addressed. Examples of which might be young people receiving care from children’s services or mental health care at home and in the community. In short, there is a geography of institutionalised childhoods that requires our attention.In this session we want to focus on children and young people as an under-researched subgroup within carceral geography while also building on research from other disciplines. This session seeks to shed light on the everyday worlds of children experiencing significant interventions, both in ‘traditional’ institutions and those that might be understood to be operating in a ‘dispersed spatial form’.



Reclaiming failure in geography: academic honesty in a neoliberal world (1) Reclaiming Failure across the Higher Education Landscape, (2) Research Methods and Fieldwork


Tom Disney is co-convening this session with Thom Davies (University of Warwick, UK) and Eleanor Harrowell (Coventry University, UK)


From fieldwork mistakes, to article rejections, to troubled pedagogical experiences, and missed academic opportunities; failure is everywhere within geography. So why is it a largely unspoken part of academic life? Despite our well-crafted resumes and polished publications, failure is a ubiquitous and unseen part of practicing the discipline of geography (Horton 2008). There have been some recent attempts to normalise failure in academia through ‘CVs of failure’ and theoretical explorations of the term (Halberstam 2011); but admissions of failure within our discipline remain rare, and the ‘toxic shame’ (Gill 2009) of failure can be professionally and emotionally debilitating for geographers at all career stages.Failure can, however, be an emancipatory and powerful resource (Harrowell, Davies and Disney 2017). It can provide a means to resist the dominant neoliberal ideology that pervades the higher education system and demands “success” at all costs (Halberstam 2011). In an academic landscape that is increasingly measured and scrutinized through metrics or ‘REF outputs’, it has become increasingly difficult to talk about times and spaces where things go wrong. Yet there is so much to learn from these experiences. How do we as critical geographers reclaim failure? How can we incorporate failure into our everyday geographic practices in meaningful ways? Can failure become a means of doing geography better? Could honesty about failure be a means of resisting neoliberalism?This session provides a safe place for speaking about failure. It invites papers that reflect openly and honestly about moments, feelings, experiences, senses, and spaces of failure within our discipline. Here we aim to reclaim failure. By facilitating an open discussion from a range of geographers at different career stages to reflect on how they have coped with, overcome and benefitted from failing in their career, the session will push back against the isolation created by the fear of failure. This session aims to cross the disciplinary divide within geography, drawing upon insights and vignettes from both physical and human geographers, to explore the diversity of experiences in the discipline.


C-MUS Conference – (em)Powering Mobilities– Aalborg University, Sweden, 29-30th August 2018


‘Not the Blue Mosque. Where would you like to take me?’ Destination Branding through the narratives of taxi drivers in Istanbul.


Dr Sharon Wilson, Serkan Uzunogullari and  Dr James Johnson


This paper investigates the ways in which visitors experience Istanbul through narratives of taxi drivers. Taxi drivers whilst not identified as official `cultural brokers’ can act as unofficial tour guides influencing how tourists interpret and experience the city (Bae et al 2014; Garcia-Almeida & Klassen 2017, Cetin and Yarcan, 2017). Tour guides are an established part of the tourism industry yet as a profession tour guiding has received relatively little attention in tourism literature (Ap &Wong, 2001; Huang, Hsu, and Chan 2010) with previous research focusing on the role of tour leaders (Luoh &Tsaur, 2013), emotional labour (Wong & Wang, 2009) and quality of service (Heung, 2008; Mak et al., 2011, Min 2016). Acting as cultural brokers tour guides often work within an official message of a destination brand with tours consisting of trained itineraries and structured routes that capture established and must see tourist icons (Yu, 2017). It is noted that such scripted tours may lack authenticity (Obrador and Carter 2010). This study explores how taxi drivers “commonly assumed to be passive and guided by established rules” (De Certeau 1984: xi) juxtapose ‘official’ must see attractions, with the logic of navigating fares, the ebb and flow of the city and in doing so may provide an alternative pathway through or vision of the city which exist outside of official brand narratives.


This qualitative study consists of interviews with 15 registered taxi drivers in Istanbul during July 2017, interviews were conducted in Turkish and translated into English. Results indicate that Istanbul taxi drivers consider themselves a reflection of the city, that they are well versed in knowledge about the city.  As a representative of the city Istanbul taxi drivers felt they have an obligation to share knowledge with the tourist passenger, however language barriers can prohibit meaningful communication. By asking taxi drivers, ‘Where would you like to take me?’ we have been able to establish how routes are negotiated in the temporary relationships between drivers and passengers as social, cultural and economic relationships orientate representations of place. In this paper we consider the moral compass of the taxi driver who, whilst operates within regimes of institutionalised destination images, due to their autonomy can also constitute alternatives by taking their customers ‘off the beaten track’.