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RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2012

July 23, 2012

This year’s RGS-IBG conference was held a Edinburgh University from 3rd – 5th July and packed in a massive 279 sessions!
I came up to Edinburgh on the 2nd as the RGS-IBG Post-graduate forum held a training day. The day itself was very useful, dispelling myths on what a viva actually entails and suggesting career options after PhD. It was also great to meet up with friends made at previous conferences, to see how everyone was getting on with their research and of course, network and meet new people. The Post-graduate forum was well represented through-out the main conference programme with several sessions on ‘New and emerging themes in post graduate geography’ and a new trail session on ‘Challenges and connections in your research’; the latter of which I presented in. It was an interesting session as although aimed primarily at post graduate researchers, it was well attended by seasoned academics. The session took the form of a round table discussion and then a series of focus groups based around the emerging themes. The session continued into the pub and I certainly found it very useful to get fresh opinions and methodologies from others who are in totally different research areas.

It was good to see documentary climatology represented in the form of Alex Berland’s (University of Nottingham) PhD research on the climate history of Antigua. His paper, titled ‘”Another visitation of elementary strife”: climate and crisis in a colonial Antigua’ focussed on the occurrence of extreme weather events, namely drought and/or hurricanes that had massive impacts on the islands population at the time and some of his early results show a close correlation between extended periods of extreme climatic conditions and civil crisis. His research is archive based and draws on a number of sources including government records, plantation papers and missionary correspondence.
Alex’s abstract can be found below, along with other papers presented during the session. Unfortunately George Adamson (University of Brighton) was unable to make the conference which was a pity as I was looking  forward to hearing his presentation.

While in Edinburgh I took the time to have a search of the archives held in the National Library of Scotland and National Museum of Scotland. William Scoresby Jnr (Whitby whaling captain and scientist) went to university in Edinburgh and was later made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. While there was no manuscripts belonging to/or relating to Scoresby, the library held Sir John Franklin’s original field diary from 1821 when he and his crew became trapped in the ice while searching for the fabled North West Passage. The diary is written in pencil and very faint. A lot of it is indecipherable but  the sections that are legible give an air of grave concern regarding the situation with many of the crew not surviving the perilous conditions. A fascinating document of a national hero which gives a truely personal insight into the human endeavour of the sailors who entered this region.

The conference was so well organised and fluid it was hard to tell it was as big as it was. Thanks to RGS-IBG and Edinburgh University for a very interesting and enjoyable few days….see you RGS-IBG ac2013!


More information on this conference and the full program can be found here:

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