Professor Hayden Lorimer
- Chair of Cultural Geography (School of Geographical and Earth Sciences)
Cultural and historical geography
Histories and philosophies of geography
In my research, I explore the social history of geographical ideas and topographic cultures.
My attentions focus on the not-too-distant past and the almost-present, considering the geographical dimensions of a series of themes: landscape, nature, fieldwork, science, memory, mobility and biography.
Some of these themes featured in two series of essays ('The Naturalists' and 'Running the World') broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 2009 and 2010.
I'd like to develop postgraduate research projects with students interested in the following areas:
Sites of special interest
I’m interested in projects of cultural reconnaissance and recovery that centre on notable or overlooked landscape features (e.g. paths, gates, stiles, dykes and walls, flagstone steps, sheep pens, cattle grids, shooting butts, bus shelters, bothies, scarecrows, gang-huts). Such folk geographies of things-in-places would focus on narratives, tales, memories and material remains of the not-so-distant past. For example, I’m currently supervising an AHRC-funded postgraduate research project on drove roads and droving.
Along with Chris Philo, I’m interested in designing postgraduate projects that explore relations between human and non-human animals, and the particular places, specialised skills and knowledge-practices that bring such ordinary experiential worlds into being. These kinds of interaction and encounter can be historical and/or contemporary. For example, currently we co-supervise AHRC-funded postgraduate research projects focusing on taxidermy and camouflage, and an ESRC-funded postgraduate project on species re-introductions.
I’m interested in developing postgraduate projects that bring geographical and biographical research inquiry into closer correspondence. Such ‘bio-geographies’ are concerned with finding ways to creatively narrate and re-place life stories; these might be the biographies of recognised geographers, or of lesser known people with a peculiar passion for place. For example, I’m currently co-supervising a postgraduate research project which fuses the biography of a short-lived geography journal, its various academic contributors, and the autobiography of the student doing the research.
My on-going research projects include:
Hinterland: a cultural geography of biography
This project, supported by a research leave award from the AHRB, draws together various elements of my current research to address critically the relationship between biography and cultural geography. Five biographical studies – located in the Cairngorm mountains, 1945-1960 – draw the concept of biography into dialogue with different themes current in cultural geography, namely: spaces of knowledge; sites of narrative; embodied practices; visual and material artefacts; and legacies of landscape presence. Each study also scrutinises different formations of geographical knowledge: popular and academic; human and non-human; visual and sensual; rooted and routed; terrestrial and extra-terrestrial.
Herding memories of humans and animals
This project, funded by the RGS-IBG, examines human-animal geographies emerging from the re-introduction of reindeer to Scotland in 1952. I investigate ideas of human-animal movement, landscape dwelling and indigenous knowledge by focusing on the activities of Mikel Utsi and Dr Ethel John Lindgren. The pair’s herding experiment combined two distinctive backgrounds: Utsi’s in Lapp reindeer herding and Lindgren’s in anthropological/geographical research on nomadic peoples. Oral history, archival documents and material objects reveal how intimate engagements with reindeer were brought into dialogue with scientific theory, nature conservation and modern celebrations of Christmas.
Revisiting fieldwork practice, Glen Roy, Scotland
This collaborative project – with Nick Spedding – revisits a 1952 family expedition based on an examination of The Parallel Roads of Glen Roy. The family expedition falls within a longer history of situated scientific inquiry: where the Roads have been a landscape puzzle of fluctuating interest in the formulation of theories on questions of climate change, the growth and decay of glaciers, and the behaviour of water in proximity to those glaciers. A unique field notebook, and an oral history of the expedition, allow for localised conditions of field practice to be understood through different aspects of family life: travelling, story-telling and dwelling. Drawing insights from the spatial turn in science studies and the history of science, the family expedition is our base for wider commentaries on networks of knowledge and cultures of physical geography.
Pedestrian geographies: walking, knowing and placing Scotland’s mountains
This project, funded by the ESRC, casts Scotland’s mountains as complex and hybrid spaces where people negotiate a variety of relationships with, and knowledges of, the natural environment. Informed by inter-disciplinary dialogues relating to nature-culture relations and the performance of place, and undertaken in collaboration with Tim Ingold and Katrin Lund, the project is grounded in participatory outdoor practice and ethnographic method. Our findings present hill-walking as a series of embodied and mnemonic acts – moving, navigating, collecting, framing, and recording.
Our project report to the ESRC is available on request.
Lorimer, H. (2012) Memoirs for the Earth: Jacquetta Hawkes's literary experiments in deep time. Cultural Geographies, 19(1), pp. 87-106. (doi:10.1177/1474474011432377)
Lorimer, H. (2010) Forces of nature, forms of life: calibrating ethology and phenomenology. In: Anderson, B. and Harrison, P. (eds.) Taking-Place: Non-Representational Theories and Geography. Ashgate: London, UK, pp. 55-78. ISBN 9780754672784
Lorimer, H. (2009) Caught in the nick of time: archives and fieldwork. In: DeLyser, D., Aitken, S., Crang, M.A., Herbert, S. and McDowell, L. (eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research in Human Geography. SAGE Publications: London, UK, pp. 248-273. ISBN 9781412919913
Lorimer, H. 2004-2005. Hinterland: a cultural geography of biography, £13,153 (AHRB RL/AN10518/APN16889).
Lorimer, H. and Ingold, T. 2001-2002. Pedestrian Geographies: walking, knowing and placing Scotland’s mountains, £41,000 (ESRC R000223603).
- Vanessa Collingridge (PhD candidate)
- Isla Forsyth (PhD candidate)
- Richard Lowdon (PhD candidate)
- Jo Norcup (PhD candidate)