Seasonal Cultures: Elements of Change

Published: 31 January 2023

RGS-IBG Annual Conference - Call for Papers for a session hosted by the Living with SAD team

a view of several autumnal trees with oranged leaves as the seasons change

The Living with SAD project team will be organising a session at the annual RGS-IBG Conference (Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers) on the topic of 'Seasonal Cultures'. We're hoping to start new conversation in cultural geography on lived and embodied experiences of the seasons, seasonal rhythms and disrupted seasonal experiences in an era of anthropogenic climate change. Our full call for papers is available below - and please get in touch with any questions or proposals!

In-person paper presentations

Convenors: Hester Parr, Shawn Bodden (University of Glasgow), Hayden Lorimer (University of Edinburgh)

Seasonality is a meaningful part of everyday life, language, custom and culture. The seasons are a unit of measure against which experience, change and progress can be read, giving a founding structure and calendrical shape to work, holidays, schooling, community, economy, faith, infrastructure, landscape and locality. As well as being a system for parcelling up time, seasons are affective phenomena in which we dwell, forming distinct modes of human being. We embody and enculture the shifting seasons, drawing out distinctions, celebrating their colour, atmosphere, light, tone and spirit. We are expectant for their emergent ecologies: tracking the arrival and parting of migrant species, watching the garden bloom and the tree shed its leaves. All this amounts to the known-world, though one which we find increasingly unfamiliar and on which we can no longer confidently depend. Winter feels less like Winter. Summer seems an intensified but more mutable version of itself. We process the predictions and projections for 2050 and wonder what future the seasons hold in store for us…  

Examining how we encounter, or re-make, seasonal culture and seasonal change is one response to the planet’s changing climates. What does it mean to acknowledge slow shifts in folk-knowledge and collective memories of winter cold or summer heat? When the rhythm of the seasons, our deeply socialised building blocks of time and calendar, no longer make full sense or seem scrambled, who is impacted and how? Cultural reference points with a cycle of four seasons might be commonplace, but the world is more patchworked than this, so what can be gleaned from those cultures more sensitively attuned to a pattern of micro-seasons? What sorts of social practices, activities and events are taking place that reclaim seasonal cultures, or champion new seasons? What might it mean existentially if our sensibilities and values no longer take their measure from a deep sense of seasonality? These new geographies of seasonal experience command academic attention and are the concern of this RGS-IBG conference session.

We invite paper-presentations addressing a variety of thematic concerns that include:

  • exploring changing ways of knowing and being in- , or, out-of- , season
  • witnessing or anticipating versions of scrambled seasonality and what this brings to bear in local, material worlds
  • engaging with shifting seasonal cultures conceptually, informed by geographical and social theory
  • addressing questions of just what is at stake socially and culturally in a world of uncertain or disturbed seasonalities
  • considering the ways that mental health and well-being are connected intimately to seasonal life
  • reporting on research practice that is utilising creative or experimental methods to engage with seasonal life-worlds
  • storying the complexities of changing experience through seasons of place, and, places of season

Session format: in-person presentations at the RGS-IBG conference, London 29th August–1st September 2023.

Submitting an Abstract: Please send your presentation title and abstract (maximum 200 words) to by 15th March 2023.


First published: 31 January 2023