Dr Cheryl McGeachan
- Lecturer in Human Geography (School of Geographical & Earth Sciences)
I am an historical and cultural geographer interested in researching the lived experiences of mental ill-health in historical and contemporary contexts. My work is grounded in uncovering worldly encounters with people, place and objects and I have worked with numerous archives, collections and community partners to develop stories of mental ill-health that are often overlooked and ignored.
Current research includes working in partnership with Glasgow Museums on the Art Extraordinary Collection, a unique collection of Scottish 'outsider art', to create new stories of mental ill-health and creativity. Working in collaboration with Leverndale Recreational Therapy Department, Barlinnie Prison, Project Ability and Gartnavel Hospital we have developed a range of community curated exhibitions and we are currently in the process of developing Glasgow Museums first ever fine art Handling Kit and a permanent exhibition for Kelvingrove Museum.
I am part of the International Green Academy, a collective of researchers from the University of Glasgow and University of Arizona, as well as schools at Glasgow (Boclair Academy & Drumchapel High School) and Tucson (Tucson Unified School District), working together to build new worlds through developing school gardens.
Key Research Interests
- Geographies of mental ill-health
- Asylum and Post-Asylum geographies
- biography and life-writing
- R.D. Laing
- Outsider art
- Forensics and crime fiction
- Criminal-medical histories and geographies
- History of psychiatry
- Psychoanalytic and psychotherapeutic geographies
- Experiences of mental ill-health
- Medical humanities
- Marion Milner and art therapy
- School gardens and ecological anxiety
Current and Recent Research Projects
A Distinctly Scottish Surgeon? Uncovering Police Surgery in 19th Century Scotland
Funded by the Carnegie Trust (2018/19) and in collaboration with Ross McGregor (Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow)
The nineteenth century figure of the police surgeon undoubtedly played a significant role in the development of forensic medicine in Britain, innovatively fusing legal and medical worlds, yet very little is known about the role and its practices. This project seeks to uncover the practices of the police surgeon in the nineteenth century in three key cities across Scotland (Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh) through the figures of Sir William Macewen, Sir Henry Duncan Littlejohn and Dr Francis Ogston. In doing so, this project seeks to develop a ground-breaking understanding of the key practices of Scottish police surgery during the period and to uncover the geographies of the practice in Scotland.
A Tapestry of Tales: Investigating the Historical Geographies of Art Therapy and 'Art Extraordinary' in Scotland (1950-1980)
Funded by the British Academy BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants (2014/16)
This research programme investigates the historical geographies of art therapy and 'Art Extraordinary' in Scotland from 1900 to the present. In particular it examines the different institutional sites and spaces where art therapy and 'Art Extraordinary' was being produced in order to shed new light on the complex histories and geographies of mental health care in Scotland during the period.
I am currently working with the Open Museum on a number of initiatives connected to this project including community exhibition work with Leverndale Hospital and Barlinnie Prison.
Encountering R.D. Laing's Archive: Mental Health, Care and Creativity
Funded by Wellcome Trust Small Grant in Medical Humanities
2014 marked an exceptionally significant year in the history of mental health in Glasgow, being the bicentenary of institutional care, and this set of events that took place in September and October 2014 sought to open up conversations about these issues through one of Glasgow's most famous psychiatrists Ronald David Laing.
Through a creative writing workshop, a conference and a film showing these events aimed to bring together a range of individuals from across different academic disciplines, professions and communities to share reflections on the changing nature of institutional care.
Debating the First Principles of Transcultural Psychiatry (collaborator)
An Exploratory Award under the Science in Culture Theme funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (PI-Dr. Gavin Miller, University of Glasgow).
The Transcultural Psychiatry project cultivates critical reflection upon the first principles of transcultural psychiatry, a field in which culture, as well as the brain, is understood as essential to the understanding and treatment of mental illness. The project brought together a number of collaborators from different disciplines and backgrounds, and asked them to generate and reflect upon what they saw as fundamental questions for the field of transcultural psychiatry. The project had a total of eleven collaborators, both clinical and academic. Position papers and podcasts can be found on the results webpage.
ESRC Funded PhD Research
Enticing Ghosts to Life: Exploring the Historical and Cultural Geographies of R.D. Laing (2010)
McGeachan, C. A Distinctly Scottish Surgeon? Uncovering Police Surgery in 19th Century Scotland, Carnegie Trust 2018-2019.
Miller, Gavin (PI), McGeachan, C. (Co-I), White, R. (Co-I) and Xenofontos. S. (Co-I). Other Psychotherapies - across time, space, and cultures, Wellcome Trust Small Grant in Medical Humanities 2016-17.
McGeachan, C. A Tapestry of Tales: Investigating the Historical Geographies of Art Therapy and 'Art Extraordinary' in Scotland (1950-1980), British Academy Small Research Grants 2014/16.
McGeachan, C. Encountering R.D. Laing's Archive: Mental Health, Care and Creativity, Wellcome Trust Small Grant in Medical Humanities 2014.
McGeachan, C. Narrating the Archive: A pilot study into student use of archives in Glasgow, Learning and Teaching Development Fund 2013-14.
Current PhD Students
Lauren Farquharson - 'Fearful landscapes': parochial asylums and poorhouse lunatic wards - where the Scottish poor and Lunacy Laws collided.
Co-supervision with Professor Chris Philo.
Eleanor Martin - Building the Clubhouse: the geographies of 'working communities' as spaces of mental health recovery in the UK.
Co-supervision with Professor Hester Parr
Gillean McDougall - Creative writing and mental health (Doctor of Fine Arts)
Co-supervision with Dr Carolyn-Jess Cooke and Dr Zoe Strachan (Creative Writing)
Rose Ruane - Exploring research-based creative writing as an ethical strategy for amplifying silenced voices from asylum archives (Doctor of Fine Arts)
Co-supervision with Dr Zoe Strachan and Professor Matt Smith
Mette Bruinsma - Collecting Worlds, Learning Geography: Disciplinary History and Knowledge Production in the Undergraduate Geography Degree.
Co-supervision with Professor Chris Philo
I would like to develop undergraduate and postgraduate projects with students interested in the following:
- Crime fiction and forensics
- experiences of mental ill-health and asylum spaces
- Historical geographies of war, trauma and death
- Geographical biographies and life-writing
- ecological (in)justice and ecological anxiety
- Patient narratives from the institutional and/or deinstitutionalised landscape
- Sites of death and disease in the 19th century city
- creative writing and mental (ill)health
- outsider art and collections
- Bruinsma, Mette
Collecting Worlds, Learning Geography: Disciplinary History and Knowledge Production in the Undergraduate Geography Degree
- Farquharson, Lauren
L720 ‘Fearful landscapes’: parochial asylums and poorhouse lunatic wards – where the Scottish Poor and Lunacy Laws collided
- Martin, Eleanor
Building the Clubhouse: the geographies of ‘working communities’ as spaces of mental health recovery in the UK.
- McDougall, Gillean
'Madness to Memoir: Creative Writing in the Asylum Space.'
- Ruane, Rose
Exploring research-based creative writing as an ethical strategy for amplifying silenced voices from asylum archives
Louise Boyle - Running into the SAnD: a social and anticipatory geography of Social Anxiety Disprder (SAnD) in on- and offline worlds.
Co-supervision with Professor Chris Philo.
Kim Ross - The Locational History of Scotland's District Lunatic Asylums, 1857-1913.
Co-supervision with Professor Chris Philo and Professor Malcolm Nicholson (completed 2014)
Hazel Morrison - Unearthing the Clinical Encounter: Gartnavel Royal Mental Hospital 1921-1932.
Co-supervision with Professor Chris Philo and Professor Malcolm Nicholson (completed 2014)
Cristin Sarg - Scottish-Jewish 'Madness'?: An examination of Jewish admissions to the royal asylums of Edinburgh and Glasgow, c. 1870 - 1939.
Co-supervision with Professor Chris Philo (completed 201
I teach on a number of courses throughout the Geography Degree programme including:
Geography-1 Lectures 'A World of Conflict'
Geographical Techniques 'Visual Methods' and 'Documentary Sources'
Geography 4 Beyond the Academy
Geography Summer School
MRes in Human Geography
I am the Convenor of the Geography-3 and the Geographic Thought Programme
I am the Senior Adviser of Studies for Geography
● Historical Geographies: Care, Conflict and Confinement (this option will next run in the 2020/21 academic year)
This course critically considers the ways in which the sub-disciplinary field of historical geography has explored the geographies of people, places and environments in the past and their reverberations in contemporary times. Using examples from work on colonial lives, pirate tales, family biographies and (sometimes unsuccessful) experiments on bodies and minds, this course will examine some of the central theoretical debates in historical geography. A significant section of this course will be devoted to the practice of historical geography and time will be spent rooting around in 'archives' of varying kinds. Dealing with a variety of historical materials such as manuscripts, film, diaries, photographs, objects, novels and maps, this course enables you the opportunity to build a set of core skills in conducting research on the past and a critical awareness of the complex processes involved. In doing so, this course aims to promote a deeper understanding of the different ways in which the past has been (re)presented in geographical work and provides you with the chance to reflect personally on the different ways in which you may wish to story past lives and past places.
This course compliments the following courses run in GES:
Exploration - Simon Naylor
Embodied Social Geographies - Hester Parr
Population - Chris Philo
Research into Teaching
• Storying learning experiences: using narrative inquiry in teaching geography, co-authored paper with Dr. Geraldine Perriam (University of Glasgow), to the RGS-IBG, London (2014).
● Learning and life stories: Narrative iquiry in the classroom and fieldwork setting, co-authored with Dr. Geraldine Perriam (University of Glasgow), to the 6th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference University of Glasgow (2013).
● Inspiring Critical and Imaginative Learners: An Interactive Workshop on Creative Geographic Writing, co-authored session with Dr. Geraldine Perriam (University of Glasgow), to the 5th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, Empowering Student Learners in Higher Education, University of Glasgow. (2012).
● Staff and GTA Collaboration in Tutorial Design: Responding to Student Feedback, co-authored paper with Dr. Joanne Sharp, Geraldine Perriam and David Beel (University of Glasgow), to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Symposium. (2008).
Current Book Reviews Editor for the Journal of Historical Geography
Part of the Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces Cluster
Collaborator Medical Humanities Research Network Scotland
Research Conference Papers
A Tapestry of Unknown Tales - paper presented at the British Society for the History of Medicine Conference, Leeds (2015).
Co-convenor with Anna Schliehe (University of Glasgow) of the Troubling Institutions: Exploring Spaces of Security and Care event. University of Glasgow (2014).
'R.D. Laing and the Ghosts of Gartnavel's Refractory Ward' - paper presented at the Gartnavel Royal Hospital and the History of Scottish Psychiatry Symposium (2014).
Convenor of the Encountering R.D. Laing: Mental Health, Care and Creativity Conference, University of Glasgow (2014).
'Self/(body-world): examining social entanglement, psychotherapy and psychosis' - paper presented in the Co-productions of Psychoanalysis and Geography: Worlding psychoanalysis session at the RGS-IBG (2014).
'An attempt to realise loneliness': exploring R.D. Laing's work with family narratives' - paper presented at the Emotions Seminar Series, School in Health and Social Science, University of Edinburgh (2014).
"A Way of Keeping a Diary": Exploring the Experimental Narratives of Marion Milner (Joanna Field) - paper presented at the 'Attentive Writers': healthcare, Authorship, and Authority Conference, University of Glasgow (2013).
"There were many ghosts walking with me": (Re)remembering through the archive - paper presented at the International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies, University of Groningen (2013).
'The work of words: exploring Foucault, Laing and the colours of 'mad' words' - paper presented at the Medical Humanities Research Network Scotland Symposium 2 on Mental Health and Dependency, University of Glasgow (2013).
'Exploring the Experimental Therapeutic Spaces of R.D. Laing and Aaron Esterson' - paper presented at the Deinstitutionalisation and After: Post-War Psychiatry in Global Perspective Conference, University of Strathclyde (2013).
Co-convenor with Professor Chris Philo (University of Glasgow), Professor Sarah Curtis (Durham University) of the Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces - Contemporary and historical perspectives on 'shelter, treatment and care' event. University of Glasgow (2013) and Durham University (2012).
'Seeking asylum, somewhere': R.D. Laing and the alternative spaces of asylum - paper presented at the Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces - Contemporary and historical perspectives on 'shelter, treatment and care' Conference, University of Glasgow (2013).
'The world if full of big bad wolves': 'policing', sanity, madness and the family - paper presented at the RGS-IBG Conference at the University Edinburgh (July 2012).
Re-imagining the Childhood City of R.D. Laing - paper presented at Situating and Interpreting States of Mind, 1700-2000 Conference at the University of Northumbria (June 2012).
More than a footnote: Unsettling Moments in the Archive - paper presented at the RGS-IBG Conference in London (August 2011).
Unpicking the geographies of R.D. Laing - paper presented at the AAG Conference in Seattle (April 2011).
The Geographies of R.D. Laing: Exploring the Micro-geographies of Psychitaric Army Life - paper presented at the AAG Conference in Las Vegas (April 2009).
Blog Posts for the Centre of Medical Humanities
"Absent Presences and Present Absences" (Reflections on the International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies). (2013) http://medicalhumanities.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/absent-presences-present-absences-reflections-on-the-international-interdisciplinary-conference-on-emotional-geographies/
All Divided Selves, Review of Luke Fowler's R.D. Laing Documentary (2012)http://medicalhumanities.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/all-divided-selves-review-of-luke-fowlers-r-d-laing-documentary/
Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival Awards (2012) http://medicalhumanities.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/scottish-mental-health-arts/